World Leaders Pick Sides In Venezuela Crisis U.S. diplomats are facing a weekend deadline to leave Venezuela, on orders of the embattled president. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to rally international support around their preferred leader.

World Leaders Pick Sides In Venezuela Crisis

World Leaders Pick Sides In Venezuela Crisis

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U.S. diplomats are facing a weekend deadline to leave Venezuela, on orders of the embattled president. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to rally international support around their preferred leader.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Venezuela is in the midst of a tense political standoff as two men claim to be the country's leader. Earlier this week, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's president. Meanwhile, the current president, Nicolas Maduro, refuses to step aside. The U.S. is trying to bolster Guaido's claim to power. Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was at the United Nations Security Council pushing countries to recognize him and declare Nicolas Maduro's presidency illegitimate, saying now is the time to pick sides. NPR's Michele Kelemen has this report.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary Pompeo says the U.N. Security Council meeting was long overdue. He described what he calls scenes of misery that are now the norm in Venezuela thanks to, quote, "Nicolas Maduro's socialist experiment."

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MIKE POMPEO: We're here because Maduro has reduced ordinary Venezuelans who once lived in prosperity to rooting through dumpsters to find something to eat.

KELEMEN: Russia's ambassador argued that the security council is supposed to discuss threats to peace and security, not the internal matters of member states. Vasily Nebenzya tried, but failed to block today's debate.

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VASILY NEBENZYA: (Through interpreter). The meeting which we are being forced to be present is another element of the strategy of the United States to effect regime change in Venezuela. We regret that in this an ethical ploy, the United States is involving the security council.

KELEMEN: Secretary Pompeo blasted Russia, as well as Iran, Syria, Cuba and others for supporting what he calls Maduro's mafia state.

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POMPEO: It's not a surprise that those who rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits, nor are these countries supporting international norms as they cynically claim. China and Russia are propping up a failed regime in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years.

KELEMEN: Venezuela's foreign minister accused the U.S. of leading a coup, but said his country is open to talks with the Trump administration. Russia's ambassador said U.S. officials are using, quote, "Bolshevik-style statements" about disconnecting the Maduro regime from its sources of revenue. Russia's ambassador is also questioning whether the Trump administration is preparing military options. Secretary Pompeo wouldn't address that, but did issue a stark warning to Venezuelan security forces about U.S. Embassy personnel in Caracas.

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POMPEO: Do not test the United States in our resolve to protect our own people.

KELEMEN: The U.S. has brought home family members and nonessential personnel, but Pompeo says the U.S. Embassy will remain open despite Maduro's decision to break off ties. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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