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US State Department Announces New Actions Against Venezuela

As Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's inauguration is unfolding in Caracas, the Trump administration has issued a new threat against the oil-rich nation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for Maduro to step down, refusing to recognize his new term as president.

"It is time for Venezuelan leaders to make a choice", writes Pompeo.

"Now is the time to convince the Maduro dictatorship that the moment has arrived for democracy to return to Venezuela."

It's not clear if the Trump administration is pursuing direct military action against the South American nation, as Trump said he might do in previous years.

“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” Mr. Trump said in September 2017 after a White House meeting with his national security team.

During statements to the press about Venezuela at the United Nations General Assembly last September in New York, Trump again repeated the idea, commenting,

“It’s a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that.

“It’s a truly bad place in the world today.”

In addition to the U.S., Paraguay has broken diplomatic relations with Venezuela today, refusing to recognize Maduro's second presidential term. Paraguayan president Mario Abdo ordered all Venezuelan diplomatic personnel to immediately leave the country.

Several other Latin American countries, including Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Honduras, Peru and Colombia have indicated they would not recognize Maduro's new government. The U.S. controlled Organization of American States (OAS), which has had an aggressive agenda against Maduro for several years, has also declared Maduro's new term as "illegitimate".

US State Department Full Statement on Venezuela below andhere.

Press Statement

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

January 10, 2019

The United States condemns Maduro’s illegitimate usurpation of power today following the unfree and unfair elections he imposed on the Venezuelan people on May 20, 2018. The United States remains steadfast in its support of the Venezuelan people and will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.

Today, we reiterate our support for Venezuela’s National Assembly, the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people. It is time for Venezuela to begin a transitional process that can restore the constitutional, democratic order by holding free and fair elections that respect the will of the Venezuelan people.

To advance this goal, the United States has taken aggressive action against the Maduro regime and its enablers. Most recently, on January 8, the United States imposed sanctions on seven individuals and 23 entities involved in a corruption scheme to exploit Venezuela’s currency exchange practices. By rigging the system in their favor, these individuals and entities stole more than $2.4 billion as the Venezuelan people starved. We applaud the initiative by the new National Assembly leadership to work with the international community to recover these and other stolen funds and to use them to relieve the suffering of Venezuela’s people. The United States will continue to play an active role towards this end.

We also have implemented and will continue to impose visa revocations and other restrictions for current and former Venezuelan government officials and their family members believed to be responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses, acts of public corruption, and the undermining of democratic governance. We will not allow them to act without consequence or enjoy their ill-gotten gains in the United States – and urge other countries to act likewise.

It is time for Venezuelan leaders to make a choice. We urge those who support this regime, from every day employees getting by on food subsidies to the Venezuelan security forces sworn to support the constitution, to stop enabling repression and corruption and to work with the National Assembly and its duly elected leader, Juan Guaido, in accordance with your constitution on a peaceful return to democracy. The Venezuelan people and the international community will remember and judge your actions. Now is the time to convince the Maduro dictatorship that the moment has arrived for democracy to return to Venezuela.