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Pompeo to meet Venezuelan migrants in Brazil as US seeks to heat up Maduro

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the third annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, DC, September 14, 2020. REUTERS / Erin Scott / Pool

BRAZIL (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Venezuelan migrants in Brazil this week, US and Brazilian officials said on Tuesday as Washington seeks to step up pressure to oust the left-wing Venezuelan president. Nicolas Maduro.

The meeting Friday in the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, near the border with Venezuela, is part of a September 17-20 regional tour in which Pompeo will also visit and hold talks with the leaders of Colombia, Suriname and Guyana, the State Department said. .

The visit to Venezuela’s neighbors’s whirlwind comes as international efforts to push for democratic change in the country seem to have stalled, and Maduro has asserted his control of power despite political and economic unrest that led 5 million Venezuelans to flee.

The trip will highlight the United States’ commitment to defending democracy, the State Department said. In Boa Vista, Pompeo will visit Venezuelan migrants fleeing man-made disaster in Venezuela, she said in a statement.

Pompeo is scheduled to make a nearly 3-1 / 2-hour stop at Boa Vista on Friday afternoon. He will visit a triage reception center for Venezuelan migrants and meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, the Brazilian government said.

They will talk about Venezuelan refugees who have been treated so badly in their own country, US Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman told CNN Brasil. It’s time for the illegitimate Maduro regime to leave, he added, praising Brazil’s humanitarian efforts in capturing 250,000 Venezuelans.

The Brazil-Venezuela border has been closed since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the influx of migrants crossing into Brazil has dropped from an average of 600 a day in a small portion of Venezuela walking along cross-country trails.

US sanctions targeting Venezuela’s oil industry have reduced Caracas’ crude exports to their lowest level in decades, but they have failed to free Maduro’s power.

With the US election approaching, and Maduro’s main critic, President Donald Trump, fighting for a second term, Washington is expected to toughen his stance, especially with more sanctions targeting the oil and gold industries in Venezuela.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Anthony Boadle in Brazil; Edited by Richard Chang and Tom Brown

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