Toronto, February 26: Venezuela’s self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido is meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Colombia’s capital city Bogota to discuss the way forward as Venezuela’s ruler Nicolas Maduro has refused to allow international aid entry into the country.
Mike Pence has been dispatched to Colombia as Venezuela’s neighbouring countries have got together to discuss the country’s spiraling economic crisis that has led to an exodus of Venezuelans as well as the deteriorating conditions inside the country.
Juan Guaido was attempting to lead a convoy of aid trucks from the Colombian border into Venezuela however the military under order from Maduro refused to let the aid trucks go through. Guaido says at least 3 lakh Venezuelans are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in his country. The standoff at the border with Colombia and Brazil has seen dozens of Venezuelans die as the military resorted to firing to dissuade protesters who tried to push at the barricades.
Upon meeting with US Vice President Pence, Guaido was reportedly given US President Donald Trump’s personal greeting as he has emerged as the most credible face to lead Venezuela. Guaido has been recognised by the U.S. and certain EU countries as the interim president of Venezuela.
Pence reportedly said to Guaido, "I want to convey to you greetings from a great champion of freedom, President Donald Trump." "Saturday was a tragic day for the families of those who lost their lives, and we are in mourning. It was also a tragic day for the people of Venezuela, just one more day in Venezuela's journey from tyranny to freedom."
"President Trump has [also] asked me to convey a message to him, President Guaido: we are with you, and we will be until the freedom and democracy come back," he said.
The U.S. has also announced the imposition of additional sanctions on Venezuela in a further effort to isolate Venezuela’s leader Maduro. Pence announced, "As of today, the United States will impose additional sanctions on the regime's officials…President Guaido does not seek revenge, nor does the US want it, for all those in the armed forces of Venezuela: if they take the flag of democracy, President Guaido and the US will welcome their support," he added. Pence also asked Latin American nations to freeze Venezuela oil assets. "We call on all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze the assets of PDVSA," he said.
The meeting with Pence comes after Guaido said on Sunday he was heading to Colombia to ask allies to consider "all measures" in helping end Venezuela's humanitarian crisis. By “all measures” Guaido could also mean taking military support from the U.S. and Donald Trump has said in the past that he will consider a military intervention to remove Nicolas Maduro if the situation calls for it.
Meanwhile, Colombia's President Ivan Duque, called on regional allies to create a "more powerful and effective" ring around Maduro to facilitate the transition of power "demanded by the Venezuelan people."