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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Lima Group of nations on Monday in Bogota, Colombia, saying that the US stands with Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó, after a weekend of deadly violence.
Pence said the US government will provide an additional $56 million for the nations of the region to continue helping fleeing Venezuelans and announced new sanctions against Nicolas Maduro’s backers.
“It was inadmissible that Maduro blocked hundreds of tons of assistance for people who needed it in Venezuela and danced while trucks with food and medicines were set on fire,” Pence said.
The vice president explained that President Donald Trump said that the struggle for freedom in Venezuela had begun. “We are millions against 30 of them, 30 usurpers cannot deny freedom to 30 million people,” he said.
Additionally, Pence said that almost 200 officials of the National Armed Forces have defected since Saturday and recognized Guaidó as interim president.
Pence announced additional sanctions against Maduro backers and urged members of the military to take Guaidó’s offer of immunity, while they still could.
“To leaders around the world: It’s time,” Pence said. “There can be no bystanders in Venezuela’s struggle for freedom.”
“Nicolas Maduro is a usurper with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go,” Pence said.
Sanctions against four Venezuelan governors Ramón Carrizales, Jorge Luis García Carneiro, Rafael Lacava, and Omar Prieto were issued by the US Treasury Department.
“This action, taken in accordance with Executive Order (EO) 13692, is addressed to the governors of four Venezuelan states involved in endemic corruption and in blocking the delivery of critical humanitarian aid, which exacerbates the current humanitarian crisis caused for the illegitimate regime of Maduro,” a statement from the US Treasury Department said.
The sanctions block all assets and interests owned by the four governors in the US.
Guaidó said that allowing the continued usurpation of power in Venezuela means a risk for the region at the Lima Group summit.
“In one day, (referring to Saturday’s violence), the world saw what Venezuela has suffered for years,” Guaidó said.
“The only war that exists in Venezuela is that of a regime against its citizens,” he added.
“Thousands of Venezuelans who are dialysis patients are going to lose their lives because of the sadism of those who usurp functions of burning a truck with help,” he said.
Pence’s appearance before the Lima Group comes two days after a U.S.-backed effort to deliver humanitarian across the border from Colombia ended in violence, with forces loyal to Maduro firing tear gas and buckshot on activists accompanying the supplies and setting the material on fire.
Several people were killed and hundreds wounded during clashes on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the actions of Nicolas Maduro’s government and said the US would “take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in Venezuela.” Pompeo wrote on Twitter: “What kind of a sick tyrant stops food from getting to hungry people? The images of burning trucks filled with aid are sickening.”
Maduro on Saturday told supporters he was breaking all diplomatic relations with Colombia and calling for its ambassadors and consuls to leave Venezuela.
Colombia responded to Maduro almost immediately, saying that Maduro lacked legitimacy to order anyone out of the country.
Maduro was seen dancing on stage with his wife, while much-needed medical supplies and food was being burned by his forces at the Venezuelan-Colombian border. He had held a rally attended by hundreds of his militia and military and those who work for the public sector. Most of whom have the choice, either to attend the rallies or lose their jobs.
President Trump said last month that he recognizes Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
During Pence’s visit on Monday, the White House said Pence would voice the United States’ unwavering support for Guaidó and highlight the Venezuelan people’s fight for democracy over dictatorship.”
Guaidó, who has been recognized as interim president by the U.S. and more than 50 other governments who say Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate, has called on the international community to consider “all options” to resolve Venezuela’s crisis.
A close ally, Julio Borges, the opposition ambassador to the Lima Group, was more explicit Sunday, urging the use of force against Maduro’s government. But U.S. officials have avoided talk of military action.
On Monday afternoon, the United States asked the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss Venezuela.
Most Venezuelans reacting to Saturday’s burning of trucks carrying medical and food supplies are asking for military intervention on Twitter.
(©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)