Pompeo Says Russia Stopped Maduro From Fleeing Venezuela
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was about to flee to Cuba on Tuesday amid the fierce political standoff with opposition leader Juan Guaidó — until Russia intervened and convinced him to stay, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Maduro and other senior Venezuelan officials were ready to end the chaos in the South American country by jetting off to the communist island nation, Pompeo told CNN.
“It’s been a long time since anyone has seen Maduro,” Pompeo said on Tuesday night. “He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it, and the Russians indicated he should stay.”
The secretary of state emphasized that the situation was fluid and urged foreign governments to allow a peaceful transfer of power.
“Maduro is surrounded by Cubans and has been supported by Russians there in Venezuela,” Pompeo said. “We have told the Russians and we have told the Cubans: ‘That’s unacceptable.’ ”
Meanwhile, President Trump threatened a “complete embargo’’ on Cuba if its military didn’t stop supporting Maduro.
“If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba,’’ Trump wrote on Twitter.
A group of Latin American nations and Canada joined the US in backing Juan Guaidó in his efforts “to restore democracy” to his country.