Fresh from a trip to South America to announce new sanctions against the Venezuelan leadership, Vice President Mike Pence dismissed an idea floated by the Venezuelan foreign minister that President Donald Trump and Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro meet.
“The only thing to discuss with Maduro at this point is the time and date for his departure. For democracy to return and for Venezuela to rebuild—Maduro must go #VenezuelaLibre” Pence tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
The remark comes after Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, addressed the U.N. human rights council Tuesday and suggested Trump and Maduro sit down to seek common ground.
On Monday, Pence flew to Colombia to meet with the internationally-recognized interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó and regional leaders to discuss how to further isolate the Maduro regime.
Pence called on members of the 14-nation Lima Group, that includes most of Latin America as well as Canada, to freeze the assets of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, and transfer any Venezuelan assets in their countries under Maduro’s name to the Guaidó’s representatives.
Arreaza has called the border fight between Venezuelan security forces and supporters of Guaido a failed coup and blamed the United States for denounced the US government for “organizing, financing and leading” the effort.
Pence said the United States was also sending another $56 million to Venezuela’s neighbors to help with the flood of migrants fleeing into their countries. He also promised additional humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela.
U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green, who traveled with
Pence to Colombia, told members of Congress Wednesday that approximately 195 metric tons of crucial relief supplies, including emergency medical kits, food aid, hygiene kits, and nutritional supplies are ready to be delivered.
“USAID stands in solidarity with Interim President Guaidó and those in Venezuela who seek a government that represents their interests and is responsive to their needs,” Green said. “So long as Maduro and his cronies continue to crush the people of Venezuela, their economy, and their hope, we know this crisis will continue.