Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won re-election in a May vote that the Venezuelan opposition, along with the United States and other Latin American nations, have decried as a sham cementing a dictatorship.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and fellow foreign ministers participate in the Organisation of American States (OAS) 48th meeting of the General Assembly in Washington, on June 4, 2018.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and fellow foreign ministers participate in the Organisation of American States (OAS) 48th meeting of the General Assembly in Washington, on June 4, 2018. (Reuters)

The United States on Monday called on members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Venezuela from the group and ramp up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro's government with new sanctions.

Maduro won re-election in a May vote that the Venezuelan opposition, along with the United States and other Latin American nations, have decried as a sham cementing a dictatorship that has devastated a once-prosperous economy.

"Suspension ... would show that OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful signal to the Maduro regime: Only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

TRT World spoke to Victoria Gaytran, the Programme Manager and Editor at Global Americans – a news and research site covering Latin America.

New sanctions

"We seek only what all the nations of the OAS want for our people: A return to the constitutional order, free and fair elections with international observation, and the release of political prisoners," Pompeo told the 34-member OAS's general assembly in Washington.

Pompeo said OAS member states should apply new sanctions on Venezuela to further isolate it diplomatically after the May 20 election, in which Maduro's two most popular rivals were barred from standing.

After Pompeo's comments, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused the US of violating international law.

"The aggression against Venezuela is brutal, it's economic, it's financial, it's commercial, it's political, it's media, and we are going to press on and we will triumph," Arreaza told the assembly.

Maduro calls the OAS a pawn of US foreign policy and last year said he would pull Venezuela out of the organisation.

Since the May 20 election, Maduro has begun to free opponents jailed after violent anti-government protests last year, casting the releases as a peace gesture and calling for international dialogue.

Maduro's critics say the releases are insufficient given around 300 people remain in jail on what the opposition says are trumped up charges intended to stifle dissent.

Source: AFP