In Cucuta, Colombia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited a migrant center that held Venezuelan migrants that fled the country due to economic difficulties caused by the country’s hyperinflation. His visit was a part of a four-day tour around South America, intended to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Together with Colombian President Ivan Duque, Pompeo went to the border town of Cucuta, which happened to be near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, where Venezuelan security forces with riot gear stand guard.
Pompeo described a particularly moving encounter with a Venezuelan woman named Geraldine, who had to scavenge for food, medicine, and diapers for her children when she got to Colombia. She had been unsure about leaving her homeland but there was barely anything for her to get there and she decided to flee for Colombia. This motivated Pompeo to call for Maduro to lift the military blockade that has prevented the entry of humanitarian aid for the refugees. He appealed for the socialist leader to see the suffering of the people who are leaving the country, even requesting that he change his ways and step out of office.
The United States has opposed Maduro’s rule over Venezuela over how the elections he won prevented critics of his administration from running and, together with fifty other nations, voiced strong support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself the interim president. In spite of this, Maduro remains popular with the armed forces, which have often helped to decide in political disputes. Meanwhile, government officials in Venezuela have accused the United States of seeking out Maduro’s deposition.
The U.S. has given almost $275 million in aid to Colombia, Peru, and other continental allies to help receive the many migrants pouring out of Venezuela. While flying back to Washington D.C., Pompeo cited the terrible and pitiful state of the hungry migrants who were denied their food because of the blockade.