Speaking at the Washington Conference on the Americas, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the ongoing struggle in Venezuela between dictatorship and democracy.
Socialism has taken a heavy toll on the people of Venezuela, and it is time for Nicolas Maduro to go, said Vice President Pence:
“The Maduro regime’s socialist policies have shrunk their economy by nearly half. It is remarkable to think that in what was once one of the wealthiest countries in our hemisphere, that 9 out of 10 people live in poverty. ... Thousands of Venezuelan children are starving at this very hour. And infants in hospitals across Venezuela are dying for lack of basic medical care.”
But the former Maduro regime threatens more than its own people. It also poses a danger to the peace and security of the region, warned Mr. Pence:
“Drug traffickers, criminal gangs, terrorist groups seek to destabilize the region and profit from the misery of the Venezuelan people every day. And while the Maduro regime has stood aside as millions of its own people have fled in desperation, it’s been more than eager to accept the aid and comfort of regimes in Iran, and Russia, and Cuba.”
The Iranian regime has been working with Maduro to establish a safe haven for its terrorist proxies. Vice President Pence warned that Hezbollah is working to extend its network throughout Venezuela, and from there, throughout the hemisphere.
Russia, said Vice President Pence, is also seeking a foothold in the Western Hemisphere and has become Maduro’s biggest weapons supplier.
But no one has done more to support the corrupt former Maduro regime than the Communist leaders of Cuba.
Cuban agents control the levers of power in many government agencies, especially the military and intelligence services. Moreover, Cuba has robbed Venezuela of oil wealth, receiving, by some estimates, more than $35 billion worth of oil since 2005.
In an effort to meet the growing humanitarian needs of the Venezuelan people, the U.S. has positioned more than 546 metric tons of food and supplies on the Venezuelan borders with Colombia, Curacao and Brazil for immediate distribution, but the former Maduro regime has not allowed it to enter.
The United States, said Vice President Pence, reaffirms its commitment to the Venezuelan people and to its partners in the region. “We will continue to stand with the people of Venezuela until Libertad (liberty) is restored.”