(Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence issued a video message of support to Venezuelans on Tuesday to encourage those who are protesting against President Nicolas Maduro and underline U.S. backing for opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Venezuela’s opposition on Wednesday plans to hold marches nationwide as part of an annual event that marks the fall of a military government in 1958. Government critics are increasingly comparing Maduro to dictator Marcos Perez، who was pushed from power that year.
In a taped video message in English with a few Spanish words and phrases mixed in، Pence، who has lashed out at Maduro before، declared him a “dictator” who has no rightful claim to power.
“On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people، let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you، the people of Venezuela، raise your voices in a call for freedom،” Pence said after offering a greeting of “hola،” which means “hello” in Spanish.
“Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election، and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”
Pence declared U.S. support again for Guaido، with whom he spoke by phone earlier this month، and the National Assembly، which he leads، as the “last vestige of democracy.” Pence said Washington supported Guaido’s decision to assert the body’s powers، declare Maduro a “usurper” and push for a transitional government to be established.