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Pence calls on Venezuela to suspend elections

Pence calls on Venezuela to suspend elections

 

Vice President Pence used a keynote speech at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday to call on Venezuela to suspend its upcoming elections.

Venezuela is planning to hold its elections on May 20. President Nicolás Maduro is running for a second six-year term.

Pence said the elections, originally scheduled for April 22, "will be nothing more than a fraud and a sham."

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"On election day itself, the Maduro regime has already given every indication that it will resort to its authoritarian playbook," said Pence.

"In short, there will be no real election in Venezuela on May 20 and the world knows it. It will be a fake election with a fake outcome," he added.

Under Maduro, Venezuela's economy and democratic institutions have all but collapsed.

In 2015, after his Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) lost parliamentary elections, Maduro moved to strip the National Assembly of power through an internationally questioned censured constitutional assembly.

The European Union is also calling for a postponement of the elections.

Pence also announced that three individuals connected to the Maduro regime would be designated as drug kingpins.

The Trump administration has consistently criticized Maduro, who has led Venezuela since the death of Hugo Chavez. It has levied a series of sanctions on the country but has avoided a full oil boycott.

"As President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE has made clear, the United States will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles," said Pence.

The vice president also called on other countries in the hemisphere to cut off Venezuelan leaders from financial services, to enact travel restrictions on members of the government, and to "hold Maduro accountable for destroying Venezuela's democracy."

Maduro last week brushed off European and American criticism of his government, saying, "What the hell do I care what Europe and Washington say?”

The Venezuelan opposition boycotted the election, but Henri Falcon, a former state governor, has broken the boycott to compete against Maduro.

Updated at 3:11 p.m.