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U.S. to increase pressure on Venezuela, secretary of state says

The United States is preparing a "series of actions" in the coming days to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Friday.

'Series of actions' coming, Mike Pompeo tells Fox News

'We're determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say,' U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News. (Michelle Gagnon/CBC)

The U.S. is preparing a "series of actions" in the coming days to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Friday.

"You'll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership folks, who are working directly against the best interest of the Venezuelan people," Pompeo said.

"We're determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say."

He did not give further details.

Last week, a U.S. official accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of "rapacious corruption" and operating "a kleptocracy" on a rarely seen scale that includes embezzling from the state-owned oil company and stealing from a government program created to feed millions of hungry people.

Marshall Billingslea, the U.S. Treasury's assistant secretary for terrorist financing, alleged at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that corruption by Maduro, his wife Celia Flores and their inner circle "have laid low a once-great nation, and impoverished millions."

The United Nations estimates 2.3 million people have fled Venezuela in the last four years due to poverty. 7:35

Crisis worsening daily

The UN's International Organization for Migration estimates that 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their country, desperate to escape economic and political turmoil, hunger and violence.

"The humanitarian crisis gets worse by the day," Feline Freier, a professor and researcher at the University of the Pacific in Peru, told CBC News.

"We know that thousands leave every day, so if you do the math, I think if we're not there [yet,] we'll be at the same scale of the Syrian displacement quite soon."

Earlier this week, Canada broke ranks with the majority of the Lima Group — an organization of nations trying to deal with the spiraling crisis — by refusing to sign a joint statement.

While the statement — in which member nations opposed military intervention in Venezuela — did not represent a sudden shift in Canadian policy, Ottawa's absence marks the first significant split among the group's 14 members over how far they might go to restore democratic government to the impoverished nation.

The United States is an observer nation of the Lima Group, which is also supported by the Organization of American States and the European Union.

The National's Adrienne Arsenault is at the Venezuela-Colombia border to see how police are trying to protect vulnerable Venezuelans from smugglers and stem the flow of illegal trade. 5:47

With files from CBC News and The Associated Press

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story mistakenly said that according to the United Nations International Organization for Migration, 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled since 2014. In fact, the UN's statistics on migration are cumulative and go back more than a decade. According to those statistics, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans lived outside the country as of June 2018, more than 1.6 million of whom had fled since 2015.
    Sep 20, 2018 10:28 AM ET