Washington — As part of a renewed campaign by the Trump administration to isolate Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo categorized the socialist South American government a "true threat" to U.S. national security.
"It is clearly the case that the former leadership of Venezuela — the Maduro regime — is a true threat the United States of America," Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing Wednesday, citing Russia's military and political support for the Venezuelan government, as well as the alliances between Maduro and other U.S. adversaries like Cuba and Iran.
The comments by America's chief diplomat came on the same day Vice President Mike Pence called on the United Nations to revoke the credentials of Maduro's representatives. After issuing a scathing rebuke of the Venezuelan government at a special session of the UN Security Council,the administration remained committed to considering "all options" when carrying out its strategy on Venezuela.
The vice president also announced that the administration was pledging to dispatch $61 million in additional humanitarian aid to the more than 3 million Venezuelans who have fled the crisis-stricken country in recent years because of widespread food and medicine shortages.
Despite a growing coalition of governments calling for him to relinquish power, Maduro has managed remain in office with the unwavering loyalty of the country's military. Since January, the U.S. has issued a series of sweeping economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government and state-affiliated companies. The Trump administration has also strongly supported the leadership challenge by National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by the U.S. and more than four dozen other governments as Venezuela's interim president.
Although Maduro and his socialist ruling party enjoy support from many poor and working-class Venezuelans, his government has been facing its toughest challenge to date from Guaidó, who has highlighted the country's plummeting economy, as well as the exodus of Venezuelans, in calling for Maduro's ouster.
Pamela Falk contributed to this report.