US: Nicolas Maduro Only 'Ruling for the Moment'

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2019-05-05

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WASHINGTON —U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is only "ruling for the moment" despite last week's failed effort by opposition leader Juan Guaido to overthrow his regime.

The top U.S. diplomat told ABC News "This Week," "Maduro can't feel good about the security of his position." He said Maduro's days as the Venezuelan leader are numbered, but offered no timetable.

Guaido, the self-declared interim president of Venezuela, led thousands of his countrymen into the streets of the capital, Caracas, for two days last week in protest of Maduro's socialist government, but top military commanders did not heed Guaido's call to join him in seeking Maduro's ouster.

Five demonstrators were killed in clashes with police. Opposition leaders planned a memorial Sunday for those killed in last week's protests.

Venezuelan officials also continued to investigate the helicopter crash Saturday near Caracas that killed seven military officers who were headed toward a military base near the town of San Carlos.

Top U.S. officials throughout the week praised the efforts to overthrow Maduro government as its fall appeared possible. But Pompeo rejected the suggestion that the aborted takeover was a U.S. intelligence failure.

"No, not at all," Pompeo said.

He said the United States will continue to offer support for "restoring democracy for the Venezuelan people."

Pompeo called on Russia, Cuba and Iran to end their support for the Maduro regime. "We want everyone out," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. should "abandon its irresponsible plans" to overthrow Maduro.

Pompeo, as he has in recent days, declined to rule out a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. But neither Pompeo nor President Donald Trump has said under what circumstances the U.S. might send troops to the South American country.

"I'm very confident that any action we took in Venezuela would be lawful," Pompeo said, dismissing concerns that Congress would need to approve an incursion.

Guaido is considered Venezuela’s legitimate leader by the U.S. and 50 other countries.