QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, thank you for taking the time and talking to us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great to be with you. Thank you.
QUESTION: In the last 24 hours, the U.S. changed its mind and request the U.S. personnel to leave Venezuela. Why you change your mind?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’ve made very clear that the interim president has credentialed our embassy, that they have – our officers down there have the rights and protection. We’re going to make sure that we do all that we can to make sure that our people are safe. Just like we do everyplace in the world, we’re going to ensure that our diplomats are in a secure environment and we will adjust our posture to make sure that they are. And that’s what we’re doing in Venezuela today.
QUESTION: Are you afraid of violence against U.S. citizens in Venezuela?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We just always review our security situation. It’s something we take with the utmost seriousness. That’s everywhere, and as situations on the ground change, we update our posture to make sure that we’ve got the right people to deliver our diplomatic mission in the place that they find themselves, and they do so in a secure way.
QUESTION: President Maduro, Nicolas Maduro, said this morning that the U.S. is behind a coup d’etat against its – his government. Is the U.S. involved in any way helping the opposition to remove Maduro?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The United States is working diligently to make sure that the voices of the people of Venezuela are heard and that they have a democracy, one that they’re entitled to; that there are free and fair elections; that the horrors that have been inflicted on the people of Venezuela stop. That’s what former President Maduro has done. He’s put the Venezuelan people in one of the worst humanitarian crises in a long time. He’s caused migrants to flee – over 3 million, many to Colombia, to other countries in the region as well. The devastating conditions that exist in Venezuela today are a direct result of the corrupt Maduro regime, and we want better for the Venezuelan people. That’s the United States effort.
QUESTION: Is the CIA or the U.S. military intelligence helping the opposition?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Never comment on intelligence matters. As someone who is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, I know how important it is to make sure that we simply don’t talk about our intelligence operations, but know that the mission that we’re engaged in there is one that is for the good of the Venezuelan people. We’re looking out for them, and to get them the opportunity to raise their voices, just like they did on the day that the interim president announced that he was the new leader of Venezuela, and the day that we announced that we recognized that.
QUESTION: Russia – Russia, China, Cuba, all of these governments warned the U.S. to not be involved in the Venezuelan situation.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s quite a crew, isn’t it? It’s quite a crew. The democracies of the world have all joined on the same side. They understand that the Venezuelan people deserve a democracy, and I hope every free nation will come to see that the path forward involves making sure that we look out for the Venezuelan people.
QUESTION: Is the President Trump or Secretary of State talking to their counterparts in Russia or China relating to Venezuela?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t have anything to say about that. We’ve had lots of private conversations not only this past week, where there has been so much effort to restore the first promise of democracy in Venezuela, but for months and months. This direction with rapid inflation, with food shortages, with horrific humanitarian and medical conditions on the ground, has been going on for some time and the United States has been working with all countries who are interested in helping relieve that pain to a get a good outcome for the Venezuelan people.
QUESTION: What’s the exit door that you foresee for Nicolas Maduro?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re going to make sure that the Venezuelan people get to have their voice that will ultimately decide the leadership that they want inside of their country. Today they’ve decided that through the assembly, President Guaido, the interim president, is the person who’s constitutionally the right person to lead them, and we know that they’ll continue to look out for their own interests.
QUESTION: Guaido said this morning that Maduro could have amnesty. Do you think that he deserves this amnesty?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ll have to see how things proceed with respect to it, and ultimately, this will be a decision for the Venezuelan people, right? These – this is their country; this is their effort. It was the Venezuelans who are in the streets. It’s their process. The United States is aiming to make sure that they get a chance to do so in safety and security, and we’ve now identified resources – $20 million – to provide humanitarian assistance, demonstrating once again that the United States is a real force for good for the Venezuelan people. We intend to remain so.
QUESTION: How are you going to canalize or channelize this 20 million in humanitarian help? The government is under the control of Nicolas Maduro. Juan Guaido is just the leader of the National Assembly, so far.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, he’s the interim president. The United States recognizes him as such, and we will find a methodology by which to get this – these resources to the people who need them the most.
QUESTION: Tomorrow there is a UN Security Council. What do you expect from Russia and China in this council?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we hope they’ll come to see that the right path forward is to reflect the will of the Venezuelan people and to recognize President Guaido as the interim – as the interim leader of that country. It’s certainly not what they’ve chosen to do so far, but we expect every country to see that what’s best for the Venezuelan people, what the Venezuelan people have demanded, is the outcome that the United States has now acknowledged.
QUESTION: What’s the message, final message for the Venezuelan people?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re with you. The United States support you. We want you to have a path forward. We want you to choose your leadership and we want a better life for you. You are a rich country, a wealthy country, a country with a deep, honorable, important history, and the United States stands ready to help you secure those rights that each of the Venezuelan people ask.
QUESTION: I have to finish this interview asking you again: President Trump said many times all the options are on the table. Military – all the options are on the table. What military option means?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re intent on delivering good outcomes for the Venezuelan people. The United States Department of State is in the lead in ensuring that happens. I expect we will continue to be, but President Trump’s made clear we’re committed to this process and will remain so.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, thank you for being here.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.
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