'US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with allies in a tour of Latin America this week, in which he talked about stepping up US-led efforts against Venezuela.
The Trump administration has been increasingly hostile towards the Caribbean nation, escalating sanctions and even threatening a military “option.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is due to start his second term on January 10, having won re-election on May 20, but Washington and several right-wing regional governments have refused to recognize the election and may look to further isolate Caracas in coming days. For its part, Venezuela has repeatedly denounced what it terms US-led destabilization efforts.
Tensions have likewise heightened with some of Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors, especially Brazil and Colombia, with flashpoints surrounding Venezuelan migration and an increased military presence along the shared borders.
Pompeo’s tour, which was also meant to address concerns about China’s growing presence in the region, started in Peru. Following a meeting with Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Bardales, the former CIA director stressed the need to “increase pressure” on the Venezuelan government.
Pompeo then flew to Brasilia for the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro. In meetings with Brazil’s new president and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, he discussed joint efforts against the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Pompeo later told the press that he and his Brazilian allies shared a “deep desire to return democracy” to Venezuela.
A former army captain during Brazil’s military dictatorship, ultra-right Bolsonaro took office on January 1 following his election victory in October. In his first speech as president, he vowed to “value Judeo-Christian traditions” and that Brazil would be free from “socialism, a giant state and political correctness.”'
Read more: Pompeo Tours Latin America with an Eye on Venezuela Regime Change
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