Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro must be “fought against” to ensure that he leaves power, a top regional diplomat said Saturday after a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We have said always with dictators, with tyrants, we do not dialogue,” Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni told reporters. “Tyrants and dictators are combated, are fought against. We have to combat them in order to recover the basic liberties of the Venezuelan people so they can live with dignity again, once again.”
Pompeo traveled to the capital city of Asunción as part of a four-country swing through Latin America this weekend, where he is meeting with partner governments to fortify opposition to Maduro. Paraguay is a member of the Lima Group, a 12-country bloc of nations that coordinated with President Trump’s administration to denounce Maduro and recognized top opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president in January.
“We are convinced that all the diplomatic effort to isolate that regime will have results in a short time,” Castiglioni said when asked if Paraguay would support a military intervention against Maduro. “It’s going to have concrete results, and these results will be seen from the reaction of the people of Venezuela, of the very armed forces of Venezuela’s.”
Maduro has retained control of the Venezuelan military through the assistance of Cuban security officials, backed by diplomatic support from Russia and China. The Venezuelan crisis has occasioned a high-profile diplomatic fight between the three major world powers over who is intervening illegitimately into Venezuelan affairs.
“Everyone knows about Venezuela, the blitzkrieg change failed, but the Americans do not refuse the goal of overthrowing the legitimate president,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday, drawing an apparent analogy between Pompeo’s diplomatic efforts and the Nazi tactics used at the beginning of the Second World War.
“The Americans even dragged out the notorious Monroe Doctrine out of the woodwork,” said Lavrov. “They do not seem to understand that they are opposing themselves to the entire Latin American world and not only to the Latin American world.”
Pompeo derided those “hypocritical” criticisms throughout his trip. “It’s almost funny to say, right?” He told Voice of America on Saturday. “The Cubans own the security apparatus … the people of Venezuela, want their own security. They want their own democracy. They want Venezuelans to lead their nation, not people from a small island, not people from Russia.”
Castiglioni’s sharp rhetoric helped underscore Pompeo’s argument that Maduro is opposed by key regional nations, not just the United States. “It is also a commitment of Paraguay to defend democracy, public freedoms, human rights, will be beyond our borders,” he said. “It will be in the region, in the hemisphere, and in the whole world.”