Pence plans Colombia trip to demand Maduro resign
Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia on Monday to speak with the Colombian president and regional leaders about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela and rally the international community behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
The White House said Pence will deliver remarks to the 14 nations that are part of the “Lima Group.” He’ll meet with Colombian President Ivan Duque and other officials from the Western Hemisphere “to define concrete steps that support the Venezuelan people and a transition to democracy.”
Senior administration officials said Pence will state plainly that “the time has come for Nicolás Maduro to step aside.”
Border closed: Maduro ordered Venezuela’s border with Brazil closed Thursday, part of his escalating effort to stop opponents from sending humanitarian aid into his poverty-stricken country, according to New York Times reports.
Guaidó, the parliamentary opposition leader who declared himself president of Venezuela last month, has vowed to bring tons of aid donated by the United States and others into Venezuela on Saturday. Maduro, who has called Guaidó an American lackey, has vowed not to let the aid in.
The Brazil-border closure, announced on television, followed a Venezuelan government announcement Wednesday that it would block air and sea travel between Venezuela and three Caribbean islands where the opposition said it wished to stage relief supplies.
Prominent defector: A former intelligence chief in Venezuela who is one of the government’s most prominent figures turned against Maduro on Thursday, calling him a dictator with a corrupt inner circle that has engaged in drug trafficking and courted the militant group Hezbollah.
In interviews with The New York Times, former Intelligence Chief Hugo Carvajal, 58, a congressman in the governing Socialist Party, urged the military to break with the president before a showdown with the opposition Saturday over Maduro’s blockade of aid shipments on the country’s borders.