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We are with you 100%: Pence to Guaido


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US Vice President Mike Pence, on Monday strongly reiterated the United States' (US) support for Venezuela's self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido during the Lima Group talks held here to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Latin American nation.
"To President @jguaido of Venezuela, it is a great privilege to share this moment. I bring you and President of Colombia @IvanDuque a very simple message from @POTUS Trump & the United States of America: We are with you 100%," Pence tweeted, underlining that Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro "must go".
"To leaders around the world: It's time. There can be no bystanders in Venezuela's struggle for freedom. Nicolas Maduro is a usurper with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go," CNN quoted the US Vice President as saying.
He announced additional USD 56 million funding to support the United States' regional partners "as they come to the aid of the Venezuelan people," at Monday's talks held along with regional leaders over the hastening of Maduro's departure.
The Vice President also announced sanctions on three border-state governors and a member of Maduro's inner circle who allegedly played a role in the Venezuelan law enforcement's violent response towards the Guaido-mobilised attempt at bringing in aid to the nation despite Maduro's efforts to block all international humanitarian aid.
Pence also laid out a series of measures which can be undertaken by the global community to support Guaido, which includes freezing assets of Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to cut funding to the Maduro-led government of Venezuela - which has been labelled as the "usurping regime" by US-backed Guaido.
"These men worked to block aid for people in need and suppress peaceful protests, their actions will not go unpunished," Pence said at the event, held right in the aftermath of Saturday's violence in border towns of Venezuela. The clashes have reportedly left over 300 people injured while at least five lost their lives, according to the US Vice President.
Guaido, meanwhile, called for international support to oust Maduro, highlighting that the embattled President was only left with "paramilitary hitmen" who threatened lives.
"We will continue fighting for our country. We know that the outlaw regime only has left paramilitary hit men who threaten our lives. It's time to change the story, it's time to do something. And if it depends on us, know for sure that we will do it," Guaido tweeted in Spanish
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the violence in Venezuela on Saturday, calling for peace and calm to prevail.
Maduro, dismissing claims of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, has blocked all aid from entering the country. In fact, he believes that the crisis is a premise for the United States to lead a coup to dethrone him as the President of Venezuela. He blocked all major highways with neighbouring countries like Colombia to ensure that aid does not enter the South American nation.
Violent clashes erupted on Saturday when a group of supporters, mobilised by Guaido, tried bringing in aid into Venezuela from Colombia and Brazil- a move which was met with a violent response from Venezuelan law enforcement who have pledged their allegiance to Maduro in the political crisis.

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First Published: Feb 26 2019 | 2:26 AM IST

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