US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington prefers economic sanctions over military intervention in its push for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Pompeo made the remarks during a speech about the US policy in Latin America on Monday at the University of Louisville.
The top diplomat reiterated US President Donald Trump’s assertion to fight socialism across the hemisphere but said his policy in Venezuela was “mixed with restraint.”
“We’ve seen folks calling for regime change through violent means, and we’ve said that all options are on the table to help the Venezuelan people recover their democracy and prosperity,” Pompeo said.
“That is certainly still true. But we’ve learned from history that the risks from using military force are significant.” He said the hard-hitting US sanctions that include curbs on Venezuela’s key export of oil have been “realistic, within the capacity of American power.”
He said Maduro will eventually leave power; however, it is not clear when.
“In July of 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu said capitalism would come to Romania when apples grew on poplar trees – and by December he was hanging from a rope,” Pompeo said of the communist ruler, who was executed by firing squad.
“The end will come for Maduro as well. We just don’t know what day,” Pompeo said.
For months, Washington has been demanding the resignation of Maduro, calling his re-election a fraud.
Pompeo has said that Washington will continue to use all economic and political tools at its disposal to oust Maduro.
Venezuela has been in political turmoil since US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January.
The Trump administration has imposed a raft of sanctions against the Maduro government in an attempt to remove him from power, putting the country’s economy on the verge of recession.
Maduro, however, has remained in power, with the army refusing to side with Guaido.