The United States will use all economic and political tools at its disposal to hold Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accountable for his country’s crisis and will make clear to Cuba and Russia they will pay a price for supporting him, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.
Pompeo made the comments in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, the final stop of a three-day trip to Chile, Paraguay and Peru, a clutch of fast-growing countries in a region where Washington’s concerns are focused on the Venezuelan crisis and China’s growing presence.
Maduro blames U.S. sanctions for the country’s economic problems and dismisses opposition leader Juan Guaido – who in January invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing the socialist leader’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate - as a U.S. puppet.
More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages and political crisis.
“The United States will continue to utilize every economic and political means at our disposal to help the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo said after visiting with migrants at a Cucuta shelter and touring border bridges and a warehouse storing humanitarian aid.
“Using sanctions, visa revocations and other means, we pledge to hold the regime and those propping it up accountable for their corruption and their repression of democracy.”
Cucuta receives a significant portion of Venezuelan migrants arriving in Colombia, many of whom come with only what they can carry.
Although most Western nations, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as interim head of state, Russia, China and Cuba have stood by Maduro.
“You watch the political and diplomatic noose tighten around Maduro’s neck,” Pompeo told reporters accompanying him on the trip before taking off for the United States.
“Cubans must understand too that there will be cost associated with continued support of Nicolas Maduro,” he said. “And we’re going to have that same conversation with the Russians as well.”
Washington has imposed a raft of sanctions against Maduro’s government in an attempt to dislodge him from power, but he retains the backing of the country’s military. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department added four firms and nine ships to its blacklist, some of which it said carried oil to Cuba.