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US tells Russia, Cuba to keep 'hands off' Venezuela

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published March 28,2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday warned Russia and Cuba to keep their "hands off" Venezuela amid an ongoing political stalemate in the Latin American nation.

"Maduro calls for hands off #Venezuela while he invites security forces from Cuba and Russia, so he and his cronies can keep plundering Venezuela," Pompeo said on Twitter, referring to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. "It is time for Venezuelan institutions to stand for their sovereignty."

"Russia and Cuba, #HandsOffVenezuela," he added.

The American top diplomat's comments come on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump's warning earlier this week that Russia should withdraw forces from the country, issuing a veiled threat of military intervention to break the political deadlock after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president in January.

The U.S. was the first nation to recognize Guaido as Venezuela's leader, doing so within hours of his proclamation.

Dozens of nations, including most in Latin America, have followed suit as Washington has ramped up diplomatic and economic pressure on Caracas, including sanctioning its state-run oil company.

Maduro, who is strongly supported by Russia and Cuba, has refused to cede power, instead insisting he is the target of a U.S.-orchestrated coup.

Moscow confirmed it sent two military planes to Venezuela last weekend that were reportedly loaded with troops and supplies.

The political stalemate comes as Venezuela grapples with a worsening economic crisis that has led to acute shortages of goods and which has repeatedly resulted in widespread power outages.

Its economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil, the country's main export.