US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Venezuela from the group and bolster sanctions against Nicolas Maduro‘s government.
In his remarks on Monday, Pompeo again condemned last month’s elections that returned Maduro to power as a “sham” and said the government had “exhausted all options for dialogue”.
Ejecting Venezuela “would show that the OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful message to the Maduro regime”, Pompeo told the 34-member OAS assembly in Washington, DC.
“Only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations,” he said.
Maduro calls the OAS a pawn of American foreign policy and said last year he would pull Venezuela out of the organisation.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused the US of violating international law.
“The aggression against Venezuela is brutal, it’s economic, it’s financial, it’s commercial, it’s political, it’s media, and we are going to press on and we will triumph,” Arreaza told the assembly.
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 4, 2018
Arreaza said the situation in Venezuela was a domestic one, placed on the agenda of an international meeting “in a spurious manner”. Other ministers disagreed.
“We must have a continent free of dictatorships,” OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, a stern critic of Maduro, said as he inaugurated the 48th annual meeting.
Since the May 20 election, Maduro has begun to free opponents jailed after violent anti-government protests last year, casting the move as a peace gesture and calling for international dialogue.
Monday’s war of words came after Canada slapped 14 Venezuelan leaders with sanctions, condemning the election as illegitimate and anti-democratic.
Last week, the European Union also called for new presidential elections and prepared to impose sanctions against officials from the South American country.