Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday evening that he finds Representative Ilhan Omar’s comments blaming the U.S. for the political crisis in Venezuela “disgusting.”
“The nicest thing I can say is, it is unbelievable ignorance. It’s just factually wrong,” Pompeo told Fox News. “The problems in Venezuela have been years in the making. It’s been a socialist regime, first with Chavez now with Maduro. And for a member of Congress, who, frankly — one who sits on an important national-security committee — to make a statement blaming America first in this way, it’s not only ignorant, it’s disgusting.”
Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked Wednesday by PBS’s Democracy Now! about the “U.S.-supported coup attempt against President Maduro,” to which the Minnesota Democrat responded that America’s push for regime change in Venezuela does not help the country’s citizens.
“A lot of the policies that we have put in place has [sic] kind of helped lead [to] the devastation in Venezuela,” Omar said. “And we’ve sort of set the stage for where we’re arriving today.”
“This particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States,” she added.
The U.S. has thrown its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, who this week announced “Operation Liberty,” calling on the Venezuelan people to take to the streets in an effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro. Clashes have broken out in the streets of the capital, Caracas, and armored military trucks of troops loyal to Maduro were caught on video Wednesday plowing into crowds of opposition protesters.
“The military didn’t fracture in the way that we would hope, but it is just a matter of time,” Pompeo said. “Structurally, there is no way for [Maduro] to stay in power. It is time for him to leave, and we need the Cubans and the Russians to follow him out the door.”