Pence calls Venezuelan opposition leader to express support

Pence calls Venezuelan opposition leader to express support

15/01 - 19:34 - Vice President Pence on Tuesday reportedly called Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in the latest administration display of support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's rival.

Pence told Guaido the U.S. backs the National Assembly of Venezuela as the "only legitimate democratic body in the country," a White House official told Reuters.

The call comes as reports indicate the Trump administration is considering whether to recognize Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly and head of the opposition party, as the country's leader. 
 
National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis in a statement to The Hill declined to comment on the deliberations over Guadió but said the administration continues to call for new elections in Venezuela.
 
“The United States has expressed its support for Juan Guaido, who as President of the democratically elected National Assembly has courageously declared his constitutional authority to invoke Article 233 and call for free and fair elections,” Marquis said in the statement. "The United States supports the National Assembly as the only legitimate democratic entity in Venezuela."
 
International groups, as well as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, have questioned Maduro's legitimacy since he began his second term last week.  

The recent election was boycotted by opposition groups and complicated by ballot irregularities.

Maduro's reelection was only recognized as legitimate by Venezuelan allies such as Cuba, Nicaragua, China, Russia and Syria.

President Trump has recently increased sanctions on Venezuelan officials and some companies tied to the regime while sanctioning the country's gold exports.

Pence previously called Maduro a "dictator" and his election a "sham." 

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