Pompeo calls for Venezuela to be suspended from OAS

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the Organization of American States 48th General Assembly in Washington where crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela are likely to dominate

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the Organization of American States 48th General Assembly in Washington where crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela are likely to dominate

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called for Venezuela to be suspended from the Organization of American States for crushing democracy and causing a humanitarian crisis that has driven millions of people from the country.

"We seek only what all the nations of the OAS want for our people: A return to the constitutional order, free and fair elections with worldwide observation, and the release of political prisoners", Pompeo told the 34-member OAS's general assembly in Washington.

Arreaza said Venezuelans will fight for their sovereignty.

Under Article 21 of this Charter, an extraordinary general assembly of OAS member states can suspend a country from the body, the main forum for western hemisphere countries to develop shared democratic norms.

Pence is expected to further address the issue at a White House reception for the OAS summit on Monday evening. "But it would show the OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful signal to the Maduro regime - only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations".

Last year, Maduro announced that Venezuela will withdraw from the OAS after claiming that the group was dominated by Washington's interests.

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The United States has so far imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Venezuelan officials and bans on worldwide trading in Venezuelan debt, but has stopped short of imposing all-out sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won re-election in a May vote that the Venezuelan opposition, along with the United States and other Latin American nations, have decried as a sham cementing a dictatorship.

He also denounced what he called an ongoing USA aggression against Venezuela. Venezuela has maintained enough support from a handful of countries in the OAS - most of which have gotten subsidies from Venezuela for years - to block previous attempts to suspend it.

In his first remarks to the OAS as Secretary of State, Pompeo called on the foreign ministers and representatives of more than 30 member states to stand up for the Democratic principles they all agreed upon and kick out Venezuela in a vote Tuesday.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused the USA of meddling with his country's internal affairs and imposing illegal sanctions against the Maduro regime. "You don't have moral authority of any kind to try to undermine our government", Arreaza said.

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