Amid political unrest in Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that embattled President Nicolas Maduro is “ruling for the moment”, but cannot be part of the country’s future.
Pompeo reiterated Washington’s support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. He has been recognized as interim leader of Venezuela by over 50 countries, including the US, the UK and most in Latin America.
On the other hand, Maduro is backed by Russia, China and the leaders of Venezuela’s military.
“We’ve supported the National Assembly’s choice. Juan Guaido is the interim President and as you know, these things sometimes have bumpy roads,” Pompeo told ABC News on Sunday.
“(Maduro’s) ruling for the moment, but he can’t govern. There’s enormous poverty, starvation, sick children that can’t get medicine. This is not someone who can be part of Venezuela’s future and whether that change takes place today or tomorrow or a week from now, one can’t predict.
“Maduro cannot feel good about the security of his position today and he shouldn’t. Because the Venezuelan people will demand, ultimately, that he leave,” Pompeo added.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly in Venezuela declared Guaido as interim President in January, but months of demonstrations and US sanctions have not forced Maduro from his grip on power — even after a major uprising last week.
When asked if the US invasion of Venezuela was an option, Pompeo said: “Make no mistake, we have a full range of options that we’re preparing for.”
Asked if President Donald Trump believes he could intervene without congressional authorization, he said: “I’m very confident that any action we take in Venezuela would be lawful.”
Guaido, meanwhile, told the BBC that he is considering asking the US to launch a military intervention in the embattled country.
He said he would “evaluate all options” to oust Maduro and added that the US support for him has been “decisive”.
Last week, Guaido launched a failed attempt to spark a military rebellion and force Maduro out of power.
“I think President (Donald) Trump’s position is very firm, which we appreciate, as does the entire world.”
Asked whether he would like Trump and the US military to intervene, Guaido said it is “responsible to evaluate” the possibility of international intervention, adding: “I, as the President in charge of the Parliament, will evaluate all options if necessary.”
But Trump had said late last week that he wasn’t looking to get the US military involved in Venezuela.
The US President said that in a call, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had assured him that “he is not looking to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela”, before adding: “And I feel the same way.”
But Pompeo had much stronger words for Russia on Sunday, telling ABC News that “the Russians must get out”.
“It’s very clear, we want the Russians out, we want the Iranians out, we want the Cubans out.”