Showdown in socialist Venezuela: U.S. presses world leaders to take sides; ‘No more games’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 27, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at UN challenged all nations to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela or admit they support tyranny.

“Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo said at the Jan. 26 meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. / Kevin Hagen / AP

Pompeo said socialist President Nicolas Maduro is part of an “illegitimate mafia state” responsible for the economic collapse that has led to a humanitarian disaster in Venezuela.

The secretary of state also denounced Russia and China for their continued support of Maduro, saying the two were “propping up a failed regime in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years.”

Russia had tried to block the Security Council meeting on the situation in Venezuela but was voted down with nine of the 15 members agreeing to go forward.

Russia also blocked a draft statement that would have offered full support to Guaido and called the National Assembly that he heads “Venezuela’s only democratically elected institution,” AFP reported.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said “Venezuela does not pose any threat to peace and security. The intention of the United States is to orchestrate a coup d’etat.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Guaido is supported by Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

European powers have said they will recognize Guaido as the nation’s president unless Maduro calls new elections within eight days.

“If within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president” so that he himself can call the vote, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised announcement.

Britain, France, and Germany followed suit, with French President Emmanuel Macron tweeting: “The Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide on their future.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected the ultimatum, accusing the Europeans of “putting themselves at the tail” of Trump.

“From where do you get the power to issue deadlines or ultimatums to a sovereign people?” Arreaza told the Security Council.

Guaido has offered amnesty to anyone in the military who disavows Maduro. Venezuela’s military attache to Washington, Col. Jose Luis Silva, announced on Jan. 26 that he was breaking with Maduro and called on his colleagues in the armed forces to follow suit.

Maduro said he still has the backing of the military, and to prove it oversaw a display of the army’s Russian hardware on Jan. 27.

The socialist strongman watched as a platoon of soldiers released volleys of rocket-propelled grenades, machine gun anti-aircraft fire and tank rounds at hillside targets at the Fort of Paramacay armored vehicle base, Reuters reported.

“Nobody respects the weak, cowards, traitors. In this world what’s respected is the brave, the courageous, power,” Maduro said.

The show of force was accompanied by a government publicity campaign online based on the slogan “Always Loyal, Never a Traitor”, the Reuters report said.


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