OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said the U.S. government and Canada should work together to hold Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accountable and to expose the influence of Cuba.
“We must continue to work together to hold Maduro accountable for his actions – to expose the malign influence of Cuba – and to stand with the Venezuelan people until freedom and democracy are restored,” Pence told reporters after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.
Trudeau has reached out to Venezuela’s longtime ally Cuba on behalf of the Lima Group, a bloc of mostly Latin American countries seeking a peaceful resolution to the Venezuelan standoff.
“Cuba can potentially play a very positive role in the well being and future stability of Venezuela,” Trudeau said.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to press ahead with street protests after talks with government officials hosted by Norway ended on Wednesday without progress towards resolving the South American country’s long-running political crisis.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a “full and complete embargo” on Cuba if it does not immediately end its military support for Maduro, charges Havana denies.
The United States has tightened an already decades-old embargo on Cuba to pressure the government, including allowing lawsuits for property confiscated after the 1959 revolution.
Trump tweeted last week, “We stand by the people of Cuba in their quest for freedom, democracy and prosperity. The Cuban regime must end its repression of Cubans & Venezuelans. The United States will not stand idly by as Cuba continues to subvert democracy in the Americas!”
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)