President Trump Backs Down From Tariff Threat After US and Mexico Reach Agreement

The United States and Mexico appear to have reached an agreement on the current immigration crisis which will avert the harsh and draconian tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to levy on all Mexican imports.

President Trump announced the agreement in two tweets:

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to … stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”

In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. “The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure,” said Secretary Pompeo.

Minister Ebrard appeared to be pleased with the agreement. In a tweet, he thanked Secretary Pompeo “for his valuable participation in achieving today’s agreement with the US.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also voiced his support for the arrangement in a tweet.

In a media note from the Department of State, the US and Mexican governments agreed to “work together to immediately implement a durable solution” and to crack down on “irregular migration” in their countries.

Mexico agreed to beef up immigration enforcement. Under the agreement, the National Guard will be deployed Mexico’s southern border and throughout the country. Mexico also agreed to allow the US to send immigrants claiming asylum back to Mexico while their asylum case is being adjudicated in the US and to provide migrants with jobs, healthcare, and education. For its part, the United States agreed to speed up the adjudication process for asylum claims.

United States committed to expand the practice of returning migrants seeking asylum at the southern border to Mexico while their asylum case works its way through the courts.

Both countries also agreed to continue to cooperate on security concerns along their shared border and to address the underlying issues driving migrants to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

While the tariff threat appears to be lifted for now, the agreement leaves much to be desired. The White House has not specified if it will require additional appropriation from Congress to increase border security to implement the new agreement or if everything can be accomplished under current allocated funding.

Additionally, the process of sending migrants who crossed into the United States to claim asylum back to Mexico, known as Migrant Protection Protocols, may violate several laws. According to the Washington Post, federal judge blocked the controversial policy in April noting that it probably violated the Immigration Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Furthermore, President Trump may decide to use this tactic of essentially extorting Mexico to change its domestic policy by threatening massive and indiscriminate tariffs in the future if Mexico is unable to sufficiently stop the flow of migrants coming from Central America.

So while the immediate issue may have been resolved, the underlining problem President Trump’s willingness to break norms and use threats of a trade war continues to undermine the relationship between the Mexico and the United States.

Deputy Prime Minister Borisov: Russia Does Not Plan to Send Additional Military Specialists to Venezuela

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that his country does not plan to send anymore military specialists to Venezuela, according to Reuters.

Russia sent military personnel to Venezuela in March. According to CNN, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the “specialists” were in Venezuela “in accordance with the provisions of the bilateral intergovernmental agreement on military-technical cooperation” between the two countries.

At the time, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged the presence of the Russians in Venezuela. “There have been Russians there before, so in that sense it’s not brand new, but as President Trump said I think two days ago now, they’ve got to go,” said Secretary Pompeo in an interview in late-March.

The announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Borisov came as the United States and its allies have been increasingly outspoken against Russia, China, and other countries for supporting the government of President Maduro

Standing alongside Secretary Pompeo in London on Wednesday, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed his country’s concern with the situation in Venezuela.

“Turning to Venezuela, I’m deeply concerned by the plight of the Venezuelan people, who have suffered so much at the hands of Maduro, and we must intensify pressure on the regime, including through potential further sanctions and condemn those who are propping up Maduro, particularly Russia, whose deployment of military personnel in Caracas will achieve nothing except prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” said Secretary Hunt. “So that’s why earlier today, the foreign office expressed our deep concern about the Kremlin’s actions to the Russian charge d’affaires.”

Transcript: Sec. Pompeo Remarks on ABC, CBS, and Fox News on May 5, 2019

The following is an edited transcript of the interview between Margaret Brennan of “CBS Face the Nation” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 5, 2019, related to Latin America:

QUESTION: You’ve got the whole world as your portfolio, so let’s move on to Venezuela and Russia. There was this phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Trump that just happened. The President described it to us in an Oval Office spray. Why didn’t he bring up election interference on this phone call when he said he did discuss the findings of the Mueller report, which found sweeping and systematic Russian interference in 2016?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, you’ll have to ask the White House that question. The President has been very clear. The administration has taken great action. I wish the previous one had stopped the election interference that took place in 2016. They failed to do so. Between 2017, when President Trump came into office, and 2018, we had a successful election year, a set of midterm elections. We’re working diligently to assure that the elections in 2020 aren’t interfered with by Russia, by Iran, by North Korea, or anyone else. We have enormous resource deployed against that challenge, and the American people should be sure that their government is working hard to keep our elections safe and secure.

QUESTION: You said this week that Moscow has hundreds of people in Venezuela, and you were very clear that you think it was Russia that convinced Nicolas Maduro not to get on a plane and to flee the country. Here’s what the President said during his – after his phone call with Vladimir Putin:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP: He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way.”

QUESTION: There seems to be a difference in how the President described the situation and how you and Ambassador Bolton have described it.

SECRETARY POMPEO: No, no difference. No difference. The President has said – I think he, in fact, tweeted – that the Russians must leave Venezuela, and we have asked every nation that is interfering with Venezuelan democracy. You’ve seen this. I was down on the border. We saw mothers who couldn’t feed their children fleeing the country. We saw families that had sick kids but couldn’t get medicines all sitting – it was sitting within 50 miles of where we were located, and Maduro won’t allow it to come in. The President has been very clear we want the Cubans out, there are Iranians on the ground there, we want the Russians – we want everyone out, so that the Venezuelan people can get the democracy they deserve. That includes Mr. Maduro leaving.

QUESTION: So when he says – the President says Putin is not looking to get involved at all in Venezuela, that is not the President accepting him at face value?

SECRETARY POMPEO: You’ll have to leave – you’ll have to let the —

QUESTION: He knows that that’s not the case?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has tweeted that he wants the Russians out of Venezuela.

QUESTION: So he was just putting a positive spin on things in that moment?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We are working very diligently to ensure that Maduro leaves and we get free and fair elections in Venezuela. That will require the 2,300 Cuban security personnel, frankly the people closest to Maduro who are protecting the (inaudible) security for Maduro – they’ve got to leave. We’re working on that as well. We’re working with the Cubans to try and get an outcome that will let the Venezuelans have this opportunity.

QUESTION: On this – I know you’ll be meeting with the Russian foreign minister in the coming days – is there a deal to be struck with Russia on this front? I mean, Russia benefits, right, by having Venezuelan oil off the market, by having a level of influence in America’s backyard. Is the U.S. going to negotiate a deal with Russia on Venezuela?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll certainly bring up Venezuela. It will be one of many topics that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I speak about. Whether there is a particular deal that can be reached, only time will tell.

QUESTION: Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina who I know you know well, tweeted this week: “Cuba, Russia send troops to prop up Maduro in Venezuela while we talk and have sanctions. Where’s our aircraft carrier?” He seems to be calling a bluff here on your mention and mention from others that military options aren’t off the table. What is actually being considered here? Because you can’t refer to the use of military force lightly. Is there an actual option that you are considering deploying in the coming days?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness. The President has made clear that no option is off the table. We worked this week to further the planning so that we’d have a wide range of options – diplomatic options, political options, options that would involve the Department of Defense. We’ve made clear. The President has – the President —

QUESTION: That’s hospital ships, or that’s actual offensive action?

SECRETARY POMPEO: There are – there will be many options that we will fully bake, make sure they’re ready, get laid out in exquisite detail, that are executable, so that when the situation changes on the ground or the President makes a conclusion that it’s a path he wants to go down, that these options are prepared for him. We wouldn’t want to be flat-footed, and we’ve worked diligently to make sure that that capability – a wide range of capabilities are prepared to be executed.

QUESTION: And just a final point on this. Juan Guaido, the opposition leader that the U.S. backs and many other countries recognize as the legitimate leader, has said that he essentially miscalculated the level of support in assuming the military would back him or break away from Maduro. Are you still saying a military option is on the table when the opposition leader we are backing can’t get the support of his country’s military?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, he didn’t get it that day, although the senior intelligence official left. It’s not the case that military haven’t left. There have been lots of Venezuelan military that have departed. But let’s make —

QUESTION: Not enough to make that successful?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Not yet. We’re not there yet. We won’t be successful till the day that we are, and we are determined to see that the Venezuelan people have their democracy restored, as are 54 other nations, including most every nation in the region. They understand that three million refugees, three million migrants that have departed Venezuela, another two million this year, is unacceptable for their region, and they are working to build out a coalition to support the Venezuelan people in their democracy.

QUESTION: All right, Mr. Secretary. I’m told we have to leave it there. Thank you for coming in.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, ma’am.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview between Jonathan Karl of ABC‘s “This Week” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 5, 2019, related to Latin America:

QUESTION: Okay. Let’s turn to Venezuela. National Security Advisor John Bolton suggested earlier this week that Maduro was about to fall, openly called for members of Maduro’s inner circle to defect. But opposition leader Juan Guaido acknowledged yesterday that he miscalculated the level of support that he thought he had within the Venezuelan military. Was this an intelligence failure for the United States?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, no, not at all. This is the Venezuelan people attempting to re-establish their democracy. The United States has joined with them. We have supported the National Assembly’s choice. Juan Guaido is the interim president of the country.

And as you know, these things sometimes have bumpy roads, to be sure, but Maduro can’t feel good. He’s ruling for the moment, but he can’t govern. There is enormous poverty, enormous starvation, sick children that can’t get medicine, Jonathan. This is not someone who can be part of Venezuela’s future, and whether that change takes place today or tomorrow or a week from now, one can’t predict. Our mission is to work with a large coalition, now 50 countries-plus, who are determined to restore democracy and then ultimately a productive economy to Venezuela.

QUESTION: You said today, tomorrow, or a week from now. So you’re saying this is imminent?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It could be two weeks, it could be four weeks.

QUESTION: It’s not going to be two months, not going to be a year?

SECRETARY POMPEO: What we can do is provide support, get support from the Organization of American States, the Lima Group, the entire region, that understands that restoring democracy for the Venezuelan people is an imperative, and get them all to work together so that we get the outcome we’re looking for.

QUESTION: Would Maduro still be in power if he didn’t have support from the Cubans and from the Russians?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Without the Cubans, there would be no possibility he was still in power. They are – they are the center of this. Indeed, it is the Cubans who are performing the security cordon for Maduro today. They are everywhere around him. He doesn’t trust his military. You said the military hadn’t come across. Well, the leader of their intelligence service —

QUESTION: Sure.

SECRETARY POMPEO: — left. So there’s a lot – Maduro cannot feel good about the security of his position today, and he shouldn’t because the Venezuelan people will demand ultimately that he leave.

QUESTION: You said the Cubans or the Russians?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The Russians need to get out too. The President tweeted it very clearly. He said the Russians must go. We want every country – Iran is in there today. They need to leave as well. Every country that is interfering with the Venezuelan people’s right to restore their own democracy needs to leave.

QUESTION: I want to play you what the President said about Vladimir Putin and what Putin told him about Venezuela:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP: He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela, and I feel the same way.”

QUESTION: But wait a minute. What does he mean, the Russians – that Putin does not want to get involved in Venezuela? Aren’t they already deeply involved in supporting Maduro?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has said that the Russians must get out. I’m going to meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov in a couple of days. We’ll have more conversations about this. The objective is very clear: We want the Iranians out, we want the Russians out, we want the Cubans out. That’s ultimately what has to take place in order for Venezuelan democracy to be restored. It’s very clear. I don’t think anything the President said is inconsistent with that.

QUESTION: But wait a minute. You said that Maduro was on the plane ready to leave and to flee for Cuba, and it was the Russians that told him to stay. And the President is saying that Putin told him that he’s not looking to get involved in Venezuela. Does the President not realize what you have said publicly and what is obvious, that Putin is deeply involved in Venezuela? I mean, what does he mean when he’s saying he’s not looking to get involved?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I didn’t see the full context of the quote there. I don’t know what context that was said in. I do know this: The President has made clear we want everyone out, and that includes the Russians.

QUESTION: So you were at the Pentagon going over military options on Friday with the President’s national security team. I know the line that you’ve said, the President’s said, everybody has said: All options are on the table. But is a U.S. military invasion of Venezuela really an option?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, make no mistake, we have a full range of options that we’re preparing for. That’s part of what we were doing on Friday was making sure that when this progresses and a different situation arises that the President has a full-scale set of options: diplomatic options, political options, options with our allies, and then ultimately a set of options that would involve use of U.S. military. We’re preparing those for him so that when the situation arises, we’re not flat-footed.

QUESTION: Does the President believe that he can intervene militarily without getting congressional authorization as well?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t want to speak to that. The President has his full range of Article 2 authorities, and I am very confident that any action we took in Venezuela would be lawful.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview between Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 5, 2019, related to Latin America:

QUESTION: And joining us now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Chris, it’s great to be with you this morning.

QUESTION: Let’s start with Venezuela. On Tuesday, you and National Security Advisor John Bolton were talking as if a coup in Caracas was underway. Take a look:

MR BOLTON: They need to be able to act this afternoon or this evening to help bring other military forces to the side of the interim president.”

QUESTION: What happened? Was there an intelligence failure about whether or not some top Venezuelan officials were going to flip on Maduro?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, first of all, Chris, there can’t be a coup led by Juan Guaido. He is the elected leader of Venezuela, duly elected through their constitutional process, so there couldn’t have been a coup there.

The Venezuelan people’s struggle for democracy continues. We’ve made very clear that Maduro must leave. There’s no way you could have free and fair elections with Maduro still inside of that country. And we have made very clear that not only the United States but 50-plus nations support Juan Guaido and his National Assembly and their efforts to beat back the horrific conditions there.

I was on the border in Cucuta. I watched women carrying babies across the border. They didn’t want to leave their country. They were having to make decisions about whether they could feed their baby on the second day or the third day, their sick children didn’t have medicine – all of which was sitting in Colombia and Maduro has denied them. And so our effort —

QUESTION: But —

SECRETARY POMPEO: So our effort is to make sure —

QUESTION: But call it what you want – ousting, coup, whatever – why didn’t it happen? Maduro is still in power.

SECRETARY POMPEO: He is. These things sometimes take time.

QUESTION: And why did we think it was going to happen on Tuesday and it didn’t happen?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We know it’s going to happen.

QUESTION: But I’m – I don’t mean to —

SECRETARY POMPEO: Chris, Chris, I’m not going to talk about all the various conversations that have taken place. We continue to work with leaders down there. The Lima Group continues to work with leaders on the ground. The Organization of American States continues to work with leaders on the ground.

If you think about where this country was 90 days ago, the Venezuelan people should be very proud. They are much closer to having democracy restored and having their country back on the right track than they were 90 days ago.

QUESTION: On – for weeks, you and Bolton have talked about and called out Russian interference in Venezuela. Here you are:

“MR BOLTON: They’d love to get effective control of a country in this hemisphere. It’s not ideological; it’s just good, old-fashioned power politics.”

“SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve told the Russians and we’ve told the Cubans that’s unacceptable.”

QUESTION: But Friday, President Trump talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Venezuela. Here he is:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP: He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela.”

QUESTION: So which is it? Is Putin propping up a dictator in our own backyard, or is Putin looking for something positive in Venezuela?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has been very clear on this. He said – I think it was in a tweet several weeks back – the Russians have to get out. That remains our view. We want the Venezuelan people not to have interference from any country, whether it’s China or Russia. You now have Iranians on the ground in Venezuela. We know about the long history with a couple thousand Cuban thugs essentially controlling that country today.

The United States wants all other countries out of this nation and allow the Venezuelan people to restore their own democracy. We’re confident that we’re going to achieve that. And I couldn’t tell you what day, but it will happen.

QUESTION: But the President told the American people that Putin said that he didn’t want to get involved, that he was looking for something positive. In fact, Russia is very involved. The Wagner group, a private Russian military force, in Venezuela. Putin has sent top military and intelligence officials to Venezuela. What are you going to tell – you’re going to be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Finland tomorrow. What are you going to tell him?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m going to tell him the same thing the President told the world, that every country must get out, including the Russians. That’s what I’ll tell him. We don’t want anyone messing around with the Venezuelans because we want them to be an autonomous, independent, sovereign state, democratic-elected officials. This is what we desire for the Venezuelan people. That’s what I’ll talk with him about. I’m then going to travel on to Germany and to the United Kingdom, and we’re going to work with them to achieve this objective.

Transcript: Secretary Pompeo Remarks While en route and in Finland on May 6, 2019

Untied States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Finland on Monday, May 6, where he participated in the Eleventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council and delivered a speech on US Arctic policy. During his travels en route and in Finland as well as during news interviews, Secretary Pompeo also spoke about other significant foreign policy issues related to Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. Below are the transcripts provided by the State Department and edited down to only the questions, answers, and comments related to Latin America.

The following is a transcript of Secretary Pompeo’s remarks to the press while on a plane en route to Finland as it pertains to Latin America:

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if you could just talk a little bit more about where we are in Venezuela.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m having trouble hearing you. Yes.

MS ORTAGUS: Where we are in Venezuela, and what your message is to Mr. Lavrov on Russian meddling in the country?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, Maduro has to see that this is falling apart on him. I said earlier today that he still rules, but there’s no way he can govern; the situation on the ground continues to get worse for the Venezuelan people. This week while Maduro managed to maintain control of the military in some regards, there were many military who left, a senior intelligence officer departed, a very senior official who’d been closely connected to Maduro as well as his predecessor. He has to see how tenuous this is. He was, in fact, prepared to leave and then ultimately chose not to. He understands that time is limited and I think he’s searching for as much leverage as he can get before he ultimately makes his departure. I don’t know if that’ll be next week or a month from now, but they – the Venezuelan people can see conditions continue to deteriorate and that means he can’t maintain his presence there.

The following is a transcript of remarks by Secretary Pompeo to the press while in Finland related to Latin America:

QUESTION: You spoke about your conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov. Just, if you could give us a little bit more insight into the Venezuela portion of that conversation, how far apart you are on that, and whether that is one of the areas where you may have an opportunity to work together.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t want to say too much other than I made clear our view that the Venezuelans deserve a democracy that is – doesn’t have any foreign party running their country or involved in their country on a consistent basis in a military way. Right? So we want the Cubans out, we want the Iranians out, Russia’s military out. We’ve – we had that conversation, and we started to talk about how our interests might be able to find a way forward. I don’t know that we’ll get to the right place, but we’ll have further conversations.

The following is a transcript of Secretary Pompeo’s interview with Tuomas Niskakangas of Helsingin Sanomat related to Latin America:

QUESTION: Okay, I want to talk briefly about your bilateral meeting with Minister Lavrov.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes.

QUESTION: And obviously, you’re going to talk about Venezuela. What’s your plan? What’s your plan to solve the situation in Venezuela, and what’s your main message to Minister Lavrov?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So the plan in Venezuela is really straightforward. We want the Venezuelan people to have an opportunity for democracy, free and fair elections. That can’t be done with Maduro in power. The Venezuelan people know that. Fifty-four nations have signed up for that as well. They understand too that Juan Guaido is the duly elected leader there in Venezuela.

And so our mission set is to support the Venezuelan people in every way we can, work with our partners in the region, and get the outcome that the Venezuelan people demand. You have starving children. You have children that can’t get medicine. And you have food and medicine sitting on the border, and Maduro won’t let it in.

And so any country that’s involved in Venezuela, whether that’s Cuba or China or the Iranians, needs to get out of the way, needs to cease that activity, needs to allow the Venezuelan people to begin to rebuild and reconstruct their country. This is an imperative, and the United States is prepared to continue to support that. And I’ll share that with Foreign Minister Lavrov or anyone else who asks.

QUESTION: Yes. But Venezuela has put a strain on your relationship with Russia and there is also Ukraine. That’s still unsolved. What’s your plan to deal with these tensions? It’s something that we’re always interested in Finland for historical reasons the tensions between Russia and Western powers like yourself.

The following is a transcript of Secretary Pompeo’s interview with Pirkko Pontinen of YLE TV1 as it related to Latin America:

QUESTION: One of the topics you will – if we are – we have been informed is Venezuela, which you are going to talk with Mr. Lavrov, and now Russia and United States have opposite views of who will be in the head of the country. So is it so that a solution in Venezuela is not anymore in the hands of Venezuelan people?

SECRETARY POMPEO: No, just the opposite. No, this decision is being made by the Venezuelan people each and every day. They held an election. Their constitution required that the National Assembly select an interim president when a fraudulent election was held. They did so. They elected Juan Guaido. The Venezuelan people are speaking. They’re demanding democracy. They’re demanding that their country not be hijacked by a socialist and by Cubans, who have destroyed their economy. You have children starving in the streets of Venezuela. That is not acceptable to Venezuelan people, and the Organization of American States, the Lima Group, 54 countries are all joined together to help that poor child that is starving. That’s the mission set.

QUESTION: But anyway, that’s one of the questions you will have with Mr. Lavrov. So what are you discussing about?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m sure we’ll talk about a range – a broad range of subjects. It won’t surprise me if Venezuela comes up.

Secretary Pompeo Discusses the Uprising In Venezuela In Three Interviews On Fox News And Fox Business Network

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds on Fox News and Fox Business Network on Tuesday, April 30, to discuss the current situation in Venezuela and the Trump administrations support for the uprising led by Interim President Juan Guaido.

The following is a transcript of Pompeo’s interview with Trish Regan on April 30, 2019, following the Guaido’s call for massive demonstrations across Venezuela:

QUESTION: Did you have any idea this was coming? Because the expectation was that it was all going to start tomorrow, and instead, it started today.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’ve been at this quite a while, and we knew that there would come a day where there were important activities, and tomorrow there will be, we think, lots of folks in the street, and this will be a continued part of our effort to restore democracy inside of Venezuela.

QUESTION: Are you seeing the response you anticipated or had hoped for, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I think in large measure, we have seen that. We can see that Maduro is, so far, unable to show himself. We haven’t seen Maduro for an awfully long time today. He’s hiding somewhere. There were a handful of people that had made clear they were coming across to the side to leave Maduro. The Defense Minister Padrino; the head of the supreme court, Moreno; the head of the presidential guard, Hernandez Dala, they had all indicated that they were prepared to help the Venezuelan people get their democracy back. They have not made a move that’s as strong as we would hope, but we —

QUESTION: Were they all lying? I mean, is that the problem?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We continue —

QUESTION: Did they lie?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We continue – we continue to believe that they understand where the right side of history is, and we are very hopeful that in the coming hours or days, they’ll make that decision.

QUESTION: Okay. We indeed hope so, and how do you make sure that the change happens swiftly, quickly, now? Because the people need it, sir.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, at the end of the day, this change will be driven by the Venezuelan people. The work so far over the last three months-plus now where Juan Guaido announced that he would be the interim president, where the National Assembly supported that effort – all of these things have been driven by the Venezuelan people. I’m convinced that the tide of history is with them, that they’re going to demand that. We stand ready to help.

You’ve seen the work that we’ve done to put sanctions on that have literally crippled the leadership inside of Venezuela. They have made it so difficult for the Venezuelan regime to continue to pay their soldiers, pay their military. We’ve seen what Maduro has done, which has caused children not to be able to eat and sick kids not to be able to get medicine, in spite of the fact that the United States taxpayers delivered a couple hundred of metric tons of food and medicine to their very border. These are the kind of things that will drive the Venezuelan people to make the change that you’re speaking of, and I’m very hopeful that this will come in the – this will happen in the coming days.

QUESTION: What do we do about some of these outside players that are involved? I mean, you have the President very angry with Cuba right now, and I know we’ve put some sanctions into place with Cuba. I imagine there’s more we can do, but don’t forget, as you well know, sir, the Cubans are the ones that are effectively the lifeline for Nicolas Maduro and his socialist dictatorship. The Russians as well are in the background and even the Chinese?

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s absolutely right on all three counts. It is the case that central to Maduro’s security has been the Cuban kleptocracy. They’ve cut a deal with the Venezuelans for tens of thousands of cheap barrels of oil every day. They provided security for Maduro. It’s – frankly, if you’re a Venezuelan military leader, it’s a bit embarrassing to have to hand over your senior leader to the Cubans and say, “You take care of him.”

What we’ve done is we’ve raised the cost for Cuba. We’ve – we began that several weeks back. We’ve put on increased pressure on Cuba; there’s more to follow. You’ve seen what the President has just communicated. We’re going to raise the cost. If Cuba wants to continue this malign activity and wants to continue the destruction of Venezuela, that’s going to come at an enormous cost to the Cuban leadership.

QUESTION: In terms of the costs to the U.S., what more can we do? Because there are some lawmakers now, including Senator Scott from Florida, who are saying we need to be prepared to take this all the way, and we need to stand with the people even if that means military involvement. Is it going to get to that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I hope not, but the President has made clear we’re prepared to do that if that’s what ultimately is required. It’s our hope that the violence levels will remain low. We saw violence today; we regret that. We’re watching to see who chooses violence and who is choosing other means. We’ll hold those folks accountable when the time is right. But the President’s made very clear if the situation called for it, the military option remains on the table, and we’ve seen already military presence there, not only the Cubans that we’ve been speaking of, but the Russians have military on the ground there.

And so I hear people talk about they don’t want the Americans to intervene in Venezuela, when in fact, it’s the Russians who have intervened, and they’ve done so without the consent of the government. They came in with the former regime of Maduro’s – Nicolas Maduro, his permission, but without the president of the duly elected government led by – led today by the Interim President Juan Guaido. The United States stands ready to do the things it needs to do to work with our allies, now some 54 nations that have recognized this new leader, to ensure that the Venezuelan democracy that the people are demanding there is ultimately delivered.

QUESTION: Tell me some more about the Russians. What is their goal here? What are they doing right here in our Western Hemisphere – direct violation, by the way, if you would, of the Monroe Doctrine – is this payback for us being involved in NATO? I wonder what’s really going through their heads and what kind of role they have had in keeping Nicolas Maduro there given the sanctions and economic pain, sir, that we have put him through.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I think at least one of their objectives is plain old greed. The crude oil there in Venezuela, there – Rosneft is there, there are Russian companies that get that crude oil. They’ve provided supplies, they’ve allowed some of that crude oil operation to continue there in Venezuela. So I think one of the elements is they’re owed money by Venezuela and they’d like that money paid back.

I think there’s a second purpose, which is they’ve had a long, deep relationship with Venezuela. These are non-democratic governments who often find themselves on the same side of issues and don’t like Western governments, don’t like democracies. And so the fact that the Venezuelan people are seeking democracy is antithetical to their understanding about how nations ought to work. So I think there’s multiple reasons the Russians are involved there.

QUESTION: Do you think that Maduro would have left had the Russians not intervened, sir?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, I do think he would have. I think the support that has been provided by the Russians combined with the support that is being – continue to be provided by the Cubans has provided Maduro sufficient support that he likely would have had to left in the – had to have left had that not been the case.

QUESTION: So I just wonder what – how close he might have been. What are your intelligence people telling you on that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we talked to hundreds of people on the ground today and over the past several months. It’s very clear that Maduro had intended to leave, that he had his plane ready, and that the Russians made clear that he ought not depart at this time.

QUESTION: Wow. I mean, that’s significant, and it shows you what we’re actually, I suppose, dealing with there. And this is not just —

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. Look, it’s part and parcel —

QUESTION: — the Venezuelans.

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. Look, it’s part and parcel of the deep desire to prevent the Venezuelan people from being successful and having a democracy and having their economy restored. We see it in the micro that I just described and we see it in bigger issues, economic issues, we see it in security issues – every element of power that’s being brought to bear to keep the Maduro regime in place there in Venezuela.

QUESTION: Can I ask you, how are you thinking about Juan Guaido right now, and even Leopoldo Lopez? Can we do anything to protect them? Because without them, Secretary Pompeo, I don’t know where this goes.

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re doing everything we can to ensure that no harm comes to any of the leaders who choose the right course, that go in the right direction for democracy. Juan Guaido would certainly be at the center of that. He’s been very, very bold and very outspoken and very willing to take risks for himself. You saw today he was out and about. He was in the streets. We’ve all seen the pictures. Interestingly, we’ve not seen pictures of Nicolas Maduro. He’s been hiding out today. And so we’re doing all that we can to protect not only Juan Guaido, but all of those who have chosen the side of freedom and democracy, all of the —

QUESTION: I mean, is that Special Forces?

SECRETARY POMPEO: — members of the National Assembly.

QUESTION: Forgive me for asking, but I’m just – do we have security teams there to help them and to surround them? Because they’re awfully exposed. I mean, Juan Guaido is very exposed and he’s going up and talking to all the people and greeting them, and if Nicolas Maduro wanted to be really aggressive – and he certainly has shown he can be with those colectivos – what do we do then?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we’ve made clear our expectations that no harm or violence will come to Juan Guaido. I don’t want to talk about the details of the security situation on the ground. But not only has the United States made that clear; there have been more than 50 nations that made clear that imprisoning or harming Juan Guaido would be a significant step up in the threat that is posed, and I think that the world would respond strongly were the leaders there, were Maduro actually to take that course of action.

The following is a transcript of Pompeo’s interview with Bret Baier on April 30, 2019, that pertained to the crisis in Venezuela:

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thanks for being here.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, it’s great to be with you this evening.

QUESTION: Heard in an interview earlier you said that Nicolas Maduro was on his way out or planning to leave by plane to Havana, Cuba. How close did he get?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s an understanding that he was ready to go, he’d made a decision that we’ve been urging him to make for quite some time, and then he was diverted from that action by the Russians. We hope he’ll reconsider and get back on that plane. We’ve made it very clear: We support the National Assembly and their interim President Juan Guaido, and we’re supporting the Venezuelan people in their hour where it’s time to get it right and begin to build back their economy so that starving children can eat and those that are sick can actually get medicine that’s sitting on the nation’s very border.

QUESTION: Would he have safe passage to Havana if he got on that plane?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, we’ve made very clear what are the expectations for Maduro’s departure, for the departure of others too. And what our expectations, what assurances we’re willing to provide them, I’m not going to discuss those here.

QUESTION: But living is one of them?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, I’m just not going to start down that path.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, what about the Russians? Has there been communication with the Russians since they told him to stay in Caracas?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, I don’t want to get into all of the conversations we had today, but it’s very clear the Cubans and the Russians understand that they are upsetting the duly elected leader there in Venezuela. They know that. I hear sometimes people saying, well, the United States is considering an invasion. The invasion has taken place. The Cubans have thousands of their officers inside of Venezuela today. They are not there with the consent of the government; they’re there with the consent of the thug Nicolas Maduro, but not Juan Guaido, the duly elected leader of the Venezuelan Government today. And for the Russians it’s the same.

Look, it’s time for Maduro to leave, it’s time for there to be free and fair elections, and it’s time to begin to rebuild this once-great economy.

QUESTION: Talking to Cuba and Russia, you have, as you look at the map here, 45 nations around the world have recognized Guaido as the leader of Venezuela, including the U.S., but there are 14 countries that continue to support Maduro: Russia, China, Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Mexico, Syria, Belarus, South Africa, Cambodia, and North Korea. I mean, are you turning the screws on these countries? How is that pressure building to accept Guaido?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the State Department team has been hard at this. We’re now up over 50 nations – I think it’s 54 or 56 nations – that are supporting Juan Guaido. We’re happy to have the 57th the moment we can get it. We’ve made clear to the nations that you just called out – we’ve made clear to them they’re on the wrong side of history, and that the rule of law and democracy ought to be restored, that the destruction that’s taken place over years inside of Venezuela will be a struggle to rebuild, but it is a worthy cause, and Nicolas Maduro cannot be anywhere in the country if the Venezuelan people hope to finally achieve that outcome. I’m confident they’ll get there and the United States, the Lima Group, the countries in the region, the Organization of American States are all supporting that.

QUESTION: You mentioned that some in the Maduro regime talk about the U.S. possibly invading Venezuela. One of those was the ambassador to the UN for Venezuela, who said that the buildup at the embassy in Bogota, Colombia, next door, has been to get ready for war. Listen to this.

(Video is played.)

QUESTION: What’s your response to that as we look at live pictures in Caracas, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, we never talk about the numbers we have at any particular embassy. They change from day to day. But if the question is, is the United States prepared to consider military action if that’s what it takes to restore the democracy there in Venezuela, the President’s been consistent and unambiguous about that – that the option to use military force is available if that’s what is ultimately called for. We hope it’s not. We hope there can be a peaceful resolution and that Maduro will leave without violence. We’re watching those who are engaged in violence and we will hold them accountable. But the President has made very, very clear that we are going to ensure that Venezuelan democracy is restored.

QUESTION: Nicolas Maduro did issue a tweet today, and he said: “Nerves of steel. I’ve spoken to all commanders in the integral defense regions and integral defense zones around the country who have pledged their total loyalty to the people, the constitution, and their fatherland. I call for maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace. We will win.”

I mean, Mr. Secretary, that does not sound like a guy that’s getting ready to leave.

SECRETARY POMPEO: “Nerves of steel” hasn’t shown himself very much today, Bret. While Juan Guaido is out talking to the people of Venezuela, he’s on the street shaking hands, rallying people behind him, while Nicolas Maduro has been hiding for the whole day. So much for nerves of steel.

QUESTION: As we’re continuing to look live there, were you taken by surprise that this happened on this day and not tomorrow?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve been working to restore democracy for months. As events unfold day to day you can never predict which day particular events will happen on. We’ve been – we’ve known that there would always be some day that looked about like today in the sense of the increasing opportunity for Venezuelan democracy, and we’re continuing to support that effort.

QUESTION: Is there a red line in Venezuela – if Maduro does X, the U.S. does something?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We have planned out lots of options. We’re prepared for lots of things. I don’t want to talk about what particular actions may trigger particular responses. The President just talked about the need for the Cubans to change their ways and what we will do if the Cubans make a decision to continue to engage in violence, to take down the duly elected leadership in Venezuela. But beyond that, I don’t want to get into where particular lines are.

But the Venezuelan people should know that not just the United States, but 50-plus countries, the Organization of American States are all prepared to continue to work and support them and stand with them.

The following is a transcript of Pompeo’s interview with Maria Bartiromo on May 1, 2019:

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for talking with us this morning.

SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you, Maria.

QUESTION: So first, let’s set the tone here. We want to get to the latest right off the bat. What do we know about the support for Guaido from the military and security forces, and where is Maduro?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So Maduro spoke last night. He went on a ramble for about an hour. It was the first time he had come out of hiding. He’s still pretty tucked away, unlike Interim President Guaido, who is in the street talking to real Venezuelan people – a very stark contrast, I think indicative of how he feels about – Maduro feels about his own security.

We had the most senior leader come across yesterday and leave Maduro. He was the head of the SEBIN, the Venezuelan intelligence service, a fellow named Christopher. And we had dozens of others, military depart Maduro’s forces yesterday. Today they expect big rallies. Guaido has been calling for the biggest rally in the history of Venezuela. We expect that there’ll be lots of people taking to the streets today to defend their democracy.

QUESTION: But look at this stronghold of support from Russia and Cuba to Maduro, with Russia providing weapons, Cuba providing intelligence. How significant is that? Viewers need to understand this triangle of strength if we were to see this continued support.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, it’s absolutely the case for a long time that Cubans have had an unbelievable amount of control inside of Venezuela. I think that’s why you see the economy having had such problems over the last five, six, seven years. You have Cubans, communists, in control of the Venezuelan economy and in control of the Venezuelan security situation, and now on top of that we’ve got an expanded role of Russia in Venezuela also propping up the thugs that are the Maduro regime.

QUESTION: So how far is the U.S. going to go to stop Russia from providing weaponry, stop Cuba from this support, and whether it’s intelligence or support for Maduro?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, you’ve seen the work that we’ve done already to raise the cost for the Cubans. We’ve taken a handful of actions. There are more that we will continue to work on. We’ll do the same for the Russians. They need to understand that it is – as the President said, they’ve got to go, and the Russians need to have the cost for that raised. We’re focused on making sure that we do everything we can to take this malign activity which is undermining Juan Guaido, who is the duly elected leader of Venezuela, and take these supports out from underneath him so that he’ll depart the country.

QUESTION: I mean, this is critical to the United States, right? So what is the impact of this support from Cuba on the U.S.? You’re talking about a region a three-hour flight from Miami.

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. Look, this has been something the Obama administration took a very different approach to Cuba than the one that President Trump and our team have taken. We’re going to continue to challenge the leadership in Cuba and try and restore a decent way of life in Cuba as well.

But our focus today is Venezuela, Maria. I think I heard you talking a little bit earlier. The humanitarian crisis there alone is staggering. You’ve had 3 million people flee the country. We expect another 2 million if the situation doesn’t change to leave the country this year. This is a country of only 30 million people. That’s more than 10 percent of their population that will have fled.

They have done so because, in spite of the fact that the American taxpayers have been gracious enough to provide enormous medical and food assistance, the Maduro regime continues to allow starving children not to eat and kids who are sick not to get medicine. It’s been going on a long time. The devastation is deep. And it’s why you see the Venezuelan people in the streets today.

QUESTION: Yeah, and obviously Maduro is hiding out and has still not left. So what’s to say – I mean, why do we believe that, in fact, this is the moment that he will take the cue and actually get out of town? Do you think that this is actually the moment, or is he going to continue in hiding? This has been going on for some time, and he still hasn’t left.

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right, Maria. He’s always there until he’s not. We don’t know precisely when the moment is that he’ll make the right decision for the people of Venezuela. He has shown an utter lack of regard or care for their decency, for their dignity.

Our task is to continue to support all those who are supporting Juan Guaido. It’s not only the people in the National Assembly, but the Organization of American States, all the countries of the Lima Group, now 50-plus countries across the world, each of whom has recognized that the election that Maduro claims his power from was a fraud, it was a sham, that Juan Guaido indeed is the duly elected constitutional leader, and that we need free and fair elections. Our efforts are to drive towards that conclusion. I don’t make predictions about how long it will take. We’re going to continue with this until the Venezuelan people get the democracy that they’re demanding.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. support going to include troops? Are the military troops in the U.S. going to head there and support Guaido?

SECRETARY POMPEO: The President has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do. We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid violence. We’ve asked all the parties involved not to engage in that kind of activity. We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government there where Maduro leaves and a new election is held, but the President has made clear in the event that there comes a moment – and we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is and the President will ultimately have to make that decision – he is prepared to do that if that’s what’s required.

QUESTION: Well, the President is trying to send a message to Cuba. He tweeted this last night: “If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediate CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba. Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!”

What is the plan in terms of sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I never get ahead of the team on exactly what those sanctions will be. You saw what we did with what’s called Title III of a piece of legislation back in the ‘90s. No administration had imposed those burdens on Cuba. We did. We’ve announced a set of travel restrictions, monetary restrictions. There’s certainly more to follow. The President, I think, couldn’t have been clearer in the tweet that he put out about the cost there will be to the communist regime in Cuba if they don’t change their way, if they don’t depart Venezuela, and if they don’t cease their support – violent support – inside of that country.

QUESTION: And what about Russia? I mean, how far is the U.S. willing to go to get Russia to stop providing weaponry to Maduro?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So the mission is very clear. The President has laid down a very clear requirement for the Russians. They’ve got to leave. And most importantly, they’ve got to take down that support for Maduro. They are, in fact, the force that is propping up the Maduro regime. I said yesterday, Maria, there are indications that Maduro was prepared to leave and that the Russians asked him not to go. Those are very dangerous things – dangerous for the Venezuelan people and things that create an enormous amount of risk that violence will escalate, something that I think no country in the region wants.

QUESTION: And escalate and impact the broader region as well. I mean, the pictures are looking more and more like Syria and a civil war every day. So – and characterize for our audience the impact on places like Brazil, Colombia, and the United States.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, I’m not sure the analogy to Syria is appropriate. A very different set of challenges. But in terms of the humanitarian crisis, I think the scale here is now almost equal. The Colombians are now hosting over a million six in refugees. Peru, Chile all beginning to be impacted, their economies beginning to be burdened by the cost of hosting those who have fled from Venezuela, and more are streaming outside of Venezuela each and every day. I was down in Cucuta, Colombia now several weeks back. I saw where these people were coming across a river bend, coming across because they were fleeing a place where they could not feed their kids, they could not take care of their children. And these mothers who had been so devastated, who had wanted to stay in their home country, simply couldn’t do so.

QUESTION: Yeah. And then there’s also the question of Guaido and if we were to see the military support Maduro in a bigger way if they were to imprison Guaido.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maduro’s regime has not chosen to do that so far. We have all – not just the United States but every country has made crystal clear to Maduro and those who are supporting him, including the Cubans, taking out the duly elected leader, the constitutionally elected interim president in Venezuela, would be a significant escalation, and there’ll be a response if that should happen.

QUESTION: Yeah, has – so has a red line been crossed in terms of the U.S.?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t talk about red lines. This is a mission, a mission to restore democracy and to begin the process to rebuild seven years of disastrous economic conditions inside of Venezuela. This is a government-owned destruction of their country. I think, Maria, about all the places that have economic challenges. Some of them are caused by natural disasters. Some of them are caused because countries don’t have wealth or capacity. Venezuela is not that. This was because of their socialist government. This was because a leader chose not to honor the desires of his own people. And the enormous destruction of a once proud country’s economy is devastating for the people of that country, and we’re working to restore better conditions.

QUESTION: And very quickly, Mr. Secretary, before you go, a word on China. The Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Bob Lighthizer holding trade talks in China. You have had your own investigation and serious and important approach to China’s behavior. Tell us how you look at this. As we’re talking about business and trade, you’re looking at espionage and bad behavior from China in a whole host of other areas.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, China presents an enormous challenge for the United States. They are a country with 1.5 billion people and therefore a big market for U.S. companies. But at the same time, they pose a national security challenge to us, and we have to do each of those two things at the same time. I hope the trade discussions go well this week in China.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it’s good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Maria, great to be with you.