US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defends sanctions against Venezuela, says Washington won't quit fight

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech in Santiago, Chile, on April 12, 2019. (AFP photo) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo...

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech in Santiago, Chile, on April 12, 2019. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended sanctions against Venezuela and said the United States would not "quit the fight" in the South American nation as it struggles with an economic and political crisis.

"The United States and its allies will not quit this fight," Pompeo said on Friday during an event in Chilean capital Santiago, adding that Washington would keep supporting Venezuela’s opposition.

"It's a historic opportunity when you have all but a handful of countries that are truly market-driven, democratic in ways that you haven't had in South America for decades," Pompeo told reporters earlier en route from Washington to Santiago.

The top US diplomat is on a three-day trip to Latin America, where he is visiting Chile, Paraguay and Peru, a region where Washington's concerns are focused on China's growing presence as well as the Venezuelan crisis.

Pompeo is also expected to briefly visit a Colombian border city receiving significant numbers of Venezuelan migrants.

Venezuela has been in political turmoil since US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed a raft of sanctions against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in an attempt to remove him from power.

Critics have warned that heavy sanctions could hurt ordinary Venezuelans, already suffering from hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages.

The Trump administration has also threatened to use military force to topple Maduro.


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