US invokes regional defense treaty over Venezuela crisis


Washington: The United States invoked a regional defense pact Wednesday with 10 other countries and Venezuela’s opposition after “bellicose” moves by Nicolas Maduro’s regime.

A request to invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) came from the Venezuelan opposition, said a statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, retweeted early Thursday by President Donald Trump.

“Recent bellicose moves by the Venezuelan military to deploy along the border with Colombia as well as the presence of illegal armed groups and terrorist organizations in Venezuelan territory demonstrate that Nicolas Maduro not only poses a threat to the Venezuelan people, his actions threaten the peace and security of Venezuela’s neighbors,” Pompeo said.

Venezuela was thrust into a political crisis in January when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president, in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority over the country from which millions have fled economic deprivation.

The opposition has branded the socialist leader a “usurper” over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

Pompeo said in the statement that invoking the TIAR is “recognition of the increasingly destabilizing influence” the Maduro regime has in the region.

“Catastrophic economic policies and political repression continue to drive this unprecedented refugee crisis, straining the ability of governments to respond,” he said.

“We look forward to further high-level discussions with fellow TIAR parties, as we come together to collectively address the urgent crisis raging within Venezuela and spilling across its border through the consideration of multilateral economic and political options.”

The US and more than 50 countries have recognized Guaido.