Acting Pentagon chief calls for Maduro to step down in Venezuela

Acting Pentagon chief calls for Maduro to step down in Venezuela
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Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE and Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez Tuesday called on embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to relinquish power.
In a joint statement after a meeting at the Pentagon, Shanahan and Ramírez said opposition leader Juan Guaidó is "the legitimate leader of Venezuela who is officially recognized by 54 countries around the world, and the democratically elected National Assembly."
Colombia is the United States' top ally in the region, and also the largest recipient of refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
By most estimates, Colombia has received more than one million Venezuelans, out of the estimated three million who have fled the country.
The United States and Colombia were among the first countries to recognize Guaidó's claim to the presidency, and have both called for Maduro to step down.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn't discussed at White House, contradicting Trump MORE last week alleged that Russian interference kept Maduro from leaving the country after Guaidó led a short-lived uprising meant to shore up military and popular support for the opposition.
Cuban humanitarian and security assistance is widely believed to be at the core of Maduro's stranglehold on military power.
Shanahan and Ramírez alluded to the Russian and Cuban support for Maduro in their joint statement.
"The U.S.-Colombia defense relationship is stronger than ever," they said.
"Together we stand committed to resolving the humanitarian crisis in our hemisphere, in stark contrast with malign foreign attempts to interfere militarily.  We look forward to the day we can rebuild a relationship with Venezuela’s military," added Shanahan and Ramírez.