Pence Decries ‘Fake’ Venezuelan Elections, Political Imprisonments, Refusal of Foreign Aid

Calls on OAS to suspend Venezuela's membership

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Organization of American States (OAS) Monday and called on its members to suspend the membership of Venezuela, denouncing its government as undemocratic.

Pence railed against Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro for rigging elections, imprisoning political opponents, fostering the drug trade, and creating widespread hunger and a growing refugee crisis. Specifically, Pence declared Maduro is not allowing Venezuela's May 20 election to be a free and fair one.

"There will be no real election in Venezuela on May 20, and the world knows it. It will be a fake election with a fake outcome," Pence said. "Maduro and his acolytes have already ensured that their reign of corruption, crime, narco-trafficking, and terror will continue."

"Suspend this sham election," he told Maduro. "Hold real elections. Give the people of Venezuela real choices — because the Venezuelan people deserve to live in democracy once again."

Pence fully affirmed the declaration made earlier this year in Lima, Peru, in which representatives from other nations determined the upcoming election to be illegitimate.

Pence also announced that the Trump administration is sanctioning three prominent Venezuelans connected to Maduro, in addition to various economic sanctions already in place. Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, a former top intelligence official, and his associates Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza have been designated "narcotics kingpins" owing to their activity in the drug trade. Twenty companies tied to those men are also under sanction.

Pence also decried Maduro’s refusal to accept international aid even as the economic crisis endangers Venezuelans.

"The time has come to open Venezuela to international aid, and do it now," Pence said.

In Pence’s analysis, the crisis unfolding in Venezuela has international repercussions, especially for countries in the Americas. He said the spread of disease, chaos, and drugs associated with Venezuela's collapse shows "consequences will radiate around our hemisphere."

He said the OAS must respond to the crisis by removing Venezuela from its membership.

Pence also called on OAS member states to take "stronger action" on behalf of the Venezuelan people. He called on the body's members to take three concrete actions to apply pressure on Venezuela to democratize: cut off Venezuelan money-laundering, enact visa restrictions on Venezuelan leaders, and hold Maduro accountable for destroying democratic structures.

Current OAS members includes all 35 independent nations of the Americas.