Pompeo calls for Venezuela to be suspended from OAS

Pompeo calls for Venezuela to be suspended from OAS
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Pompeo’s staff cracks down on ‘correct use of commas’ at State Dept MORE on Monday asked members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Venezuela from the group of western nations.

Speaking at the 48th session of the OAS General Assembly in Washington, Pompeo called for Venezuela's suspension in the wake of the country's May presidential vote that resulted in the reelection of President Nicolás Maduro.

"There is no greater challenge [in the Western Hemisphere] today than the full-scale dismantling of democracy and the heartbreaking humanitarian disaster in Venezuela," said Pompeo.

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The explicit call for suspension from the multilateral body was previewed Friday in a McClatchy report where a White House official was quoted calling Maduro's government a "dictatorship."

Vice President Pence, who's taken a leading role in hemispheric relations, last month gave a speech at the OAS calling on Venezuela to suspend its elections.

Pence is expected to further address the issue at a White House reception for the OAS summit on Monday evening.

Pompeo told representatives of the 35 member countries at the OAS headquarters that Maduro had moved away from constitutional order and failed to live up to its OAS responsibilities, showing "unmistakable bad faith and [exhausting] options for dialogue under current conditions."

"For all of these reasons, Vice President Pence challenged member-states last month to do what the Democratic Charter asks of us when faced with an unconstitutional interruption in democratic order of a member-state: suspend Venezuela from this body," said Pompeo.

In addition to suspension from the OAS — which carries penalties such as suspension from aid granted by the regional development bank, the Inter-American Development Bank — Pompeo called for increased regional sanctions on Venezuela.

The United States has so far imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Venezuelan officials and bans on worldwide trading in Venezuelan debt, but has stopped short of imposing all-out sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry.