An Update on the Situation in Venezuela

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U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks on the Venezuela in the Press Briefing Room, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2019.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks on the Venezuela in the Press Briefing Room, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2019.

An Update on the Situation in Venezuela

On March 11, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivered remarks to the press on the situation in Venezuela. The Secretary reflected on Venezuela's journey to its current dire situation -- one in which Venezuelans are suffering a massive electrical blackout as patients awaiting treatment in hospitals die, foods rot, and telecommunication networks collapse.

The Secretary noted that Nicolas Maduro had promised Venezuelans a better life in a socialist paradise, but that socialism has proved time and time again to be a recipe for economic ruin. He cited Venezuela's failing business environment, unafforadable food prices in the country, its hospitals which lack basic medical needs, and the nation's rampant poverty -- all a result of Maduro's socialism.

The Secretary emphasized, however, that the story in Venezuela wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the central role Cuba and Russia have played and continue to play in undermining the democratic dreams of the Venezuelan people and their welfare. 

Regarding Cuba's role to undermine democracy in Venezuela, Secretay Pompeo said, "No nation has done more to sustain the death and daily misery of ordinary Venezuelans, including Venezuela’s military and their families, than the communists in Havana. Cuba is the true imperialist power in Venezuela.” He continued, “So when there’s no electricity, thank the marvels of modern Cuban-led engineering. When there’s no water, thank the excellent hydrologists from Cuba. When there’s no food, thank the Cuban communist overlords.”

The Secretary noted that Russia has also played a role in creating the crisis in Venezuela: “It, too, for its own reasons is thwarting the Venezuelan people’s legitimate democratic hopes and their dreams. Moscow, like Havana, continues to provide political cover to the Maduro regime while pressuring countries to disregard the democratic legitimacy of the Interim President Guaido.” Russia, he added, vetoed the February 28 UN Security Council resolution calling for unhindered access in delivery of humanitarian assistance and the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Venezuela.

On the other hand, Secretary Pompeo emphasized, that the United States has given more than $195 million to help Venezuelan refugees, including $152 million in humanitarian assistance and $43 million in economic and development assistance.  In a briefing to the press on March 8, Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams explained that the United States’ humanitarian aid flights continue to Cucuta. Last week’s flight included lifesaving medical supplies for hospitals and clinics, and the U.S. continues to try to find ways to get aid into the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. has revoked more than 250 visas for individuals responsible for undermining Venezuela’s democracy and those who benefit from the regime’s corruption. And, on March 11, the United States sanctioned Moscow-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank, which is jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state-owned companies and which is helping perpetuate the misery in Venezuela.

Given the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, and the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff has become a constraint on U.S. policy, the Secretary announced, the United States will withdraw all remaining U.S. personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

Secretary Pompeo concluded saying, "Today, the United States is drawing a clear line between those who aid the forces of repression and those who give life to the Venezuelan people’s democratic dreams. There is no ambiguity here about the truth." The United States will continue to act in support of the needs of the Venezuelan people, and support those who give life to the Venezuelan people’s democratic dreams.

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