Pence: Venezuela election a 'sham'

Pence: Venezuela election a 'sham'
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence on Monday called Venezuela’s recent election, which saw President Nicolás Maduro win a second term, a sham.

“Venezuela’s election was a sham ­— neither free nor fair. The illegitimate result of this fake process is a further blow to the proud democratic tradition of Venezuela,” Pence said in a statement.

Turnout in Sunday’s election was drastically low, with half of the voters not casting ballots. Opposition leaders had called for a boycott of the vote to protest the current government.

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The vice president's comments come ahead of an expected statement by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE on Monday afternoon.

Maduro won nearly 68 percent of votes cast, giving him another six-year term.

Pence, who earlier this month called on Venezuela to suspend the elections, said that Venezuelans are “literally voting with their feet” as thousands flee a country that has been plagued with increasing poverty and oppression.

“The United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their brave people continues. America stands against dictatorship and with the people of Venezuela,” Pence said.

He also called out the Maduro government and said it must allow aid to enter Venezuela.

Pence's language mirrored that of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Pence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash MORE who tweeted about the election on Sunday, saying, "Sham elections change nothing. We need Venezuelan people running this country...a nation with so much to offer the world."

Last month, Pence pledged nearly $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled the nation. The money went to the Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. agency that assists refugees and displaced persons, and is intended to help Venezuelans who have fled to Brazil and Colombia.

Venezuela’s economy has greatly suffered because of falling oil prices and economic mismanagement. There are widespread food and medicine shortages in the country, leading thousands of citizens to leave the country in search of better circumstances.