As expected the Lima Group summit hosted in Bogota, Colombia on Monday became a collective Venezuelan regime change strategy session following the weekend showdown over US humanitarian aid entering the country, which led to riots on bridges at border points Saturday.
Previously promising to announce at the meeting of the over 12 American states — most of which have recognized US-backed Juan Guaido as “legitimate” leader of Venezuela —“concrete steps” and “clear actions”, Vice President Mike Pence underscored that President Trump stands behind Guaido “100 percent” after a face-to-face session with the opposition leader, the first since unrest began. Predictably Pence unveiled new sanctions targeting Caracas while calling on allies to freeze all assets of its state-owned oil company PDVSA, and further called for the United Nations Security Council to act.
Handout photo from Monday’s Lima Group meeting: Colombian President Ivan Duque (C), US Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido, via the AFP.
“We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy. But President Trump has made it clear: all options are on the table,” said Pence at the summit. He indicated the pressure campaign would continue ramping up, especially while calling for all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze PDVSA’s assets.
“In the days ahead… the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks,” Pence said, according to the AFP.
“We will work with all of you to find every last dollar that they stole and work to return it to Venezuela.” The US is seeking to put all Venezuelan assets under the control of Guaido’s government-in-waiting.
“In the Lima Group the consensus is that Maduro must be removed, but there is no consensus on how to do that,” political scientist Laura Gil told AFP.
Despite the many defections, Maduro seems to have won this round in the power struggle.
After Saturday’s events it is “not very clear” that Guaido has “massive” support in Venezuela, analyst Rafael Pineros told AFP. — AFP Report
In public statements Guaido, for his part, warned Lima group nations that “indulging” Maduro “would be a threat to all of America,”