Washington: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday (local time) claimed that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was preparing to leave the country for Cuba amid calls for his ouster, but the Russians talked him out of it.
“He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it and the Russians indicated he should stay,” Pompeo told CNN, adding that Maduro was headed for Havana.
Ever since the civil unrest and political chaos began in Venezuela, Russia has stood by the embattled regime headed by Maduro, and often criticised the US for interfering in the country.
“We have told the Russians and the Cubans that it [the support to Mudaro] is unacceptable. The nations of the regions and the Organisation of American States are all demanding that we get the democracy restored in Venezuela; that we get the dignity back in this once great nation,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s statement comes against the backdrop of clashes between anti-government protesters led by self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido and law enforcement officers in the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Tuesday (local time).
Earlier in the day, United States President Donald Trump threatened “highest level sanctions” together with an embargo against Cuba if it continued its military support to Venezuela.
This came after Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla had tweeted that the country was standing in solidarity with President Maduro.
Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis, which was accelerated when Guaido declared himself as the President of the nation in January.
The US immediately recognised him as the interim President and demanded that Maduro steps down.
Maduro continues to hold on to his post despite several countries calling for his resignation. Venezuela is also facing an acute economic and humanitarian crisis at the moment, which is worsened by repeated sanctions by the US.