UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – The United States urged regional leaders to take stronger steps to isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as they join a statement condemning the worsening humanitarian crisis and political repression in the South American country.
US Vice President Mike Pence told a summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, that there was a need for immediate action as Venezuela prepares for the May 20 presidential election, which many regional leaders have condemned as a farce to legitimize Maduro’s rule.
The United States for the first time endorsed a statement by heads of state of the Lima Group, which was founded last year to seek a peaceful end to Venezuela’s political turmoil. The statement called on Maduro to release political prisoners and hold free elections.
Despite an economic meltdown that has pushed an estimated 3 million people to flee Venezuela, a once prosperous member of OPEC, Maduro is expected to win the election next month.
Authorities have banned two opposition leaders who enjoy Venezuela’s biggest vote and government supporters dominate the electoral authorities. “The United States will not stand still and Venezuela will collapse,” Bens said.
“All the free nations gathered here must make a stronger move to isolate the Maduro regime. We all stand by our brothers and sisters who suffer in Venezuela.”
The Lima Group statement expressed concern about the flood of displaced people from Venezuela and urged governments to intensify work aimed at restoring democracy.