Pompeo: ‘It's time’ for nations to pick sides in Venezuela

Pompeo: ‘It's time’ for nations to pick sides in Venezuela
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoDiplomat who raised Ukraine concerns to testify in Trump impeachment probe Overnight Defense: Trump weighs leaving some troops in Syria to 'secure the oil' | US has pulled 2,000 troops from Afghanistan | Pelosi leads delegation to Afghanistan, Jordan Mulvaney faces uncertain future after public gaffes MORE on Saturday issued an ultimatum to the international community to support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's interim president over Nicolás Maduro.

“The time is now to support the Venezuelan people, to recognize the new democratic government led by interim President Guaidó, and end this nightmare. No excuses,” Pompeo told the United Nations Security Council.

“And now it’s 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.”

The comments come amid an escalating political crisis in Venezuela, as the Trump administration this week recognized Guaidó, the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, as Venezuela’s interim president. Canada, the Organization of American States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia all followed suit.

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However, Maduro, whom Washington has slammed as a dictator whose policies have fueled food and medicine shortages in the country, has vowed to hold onto power. He was sworn in for a second six-year term earlier this month, but much of the international community, including the U.S., declared his election illegitimate.

Pompeo on Saturday called out countries that still support Maduro, suggesting their support was a reflection of authoritarianism back at home. 

“Some countries have publicly taken former President Maduro’s side. China, Russia, Syria, and Iran are just four of them,” he said. “It’s not a surprise that those who rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits.” 

The secretary of State added that he hopes “free and fair” elections will occur as soon as possible.

Pompeo also issued a warning to Maduro against threatening any State Department employees in Caracas after the Venezuelan leader on Wednesday gave all U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention. Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our own people,” Pompeo said.

Washington ordered some diplomats to leave the country on Thursday amid security concerns over the leadership struggle.

Several European nations on Saturday said they would recognize Guaidó as the country's interim president unless Maduro calls for new elections within eight days.