US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that China’s financing of President Nicolás Maduro’s government is prolonging the crisis in Venezuela.
Pompeo kicked off a four-country tour of Latin America in Chile, where he met with President Sebastián Piñera to discuss the US-China trade war and the Venezuelan crisis. Hyperinflation, shortages of food and medicine and other hardships have forced more than 3 million Venezuelans - about one-tenth of the population - to flee the country in the last few years.
“China’s bankrolling of the Maduro regime helped precipitate and prolong the crisis in that country,” Pompeo said, adding that China invested over $60 billion, “with no strings attached.”
“It’s no surprise that Maduro used the money to use for tasks like paying off cronies, crushing pro-democracy activists, and funding ineffective social programs,” he said.
“I think there’s a lesson, a lesson to be learned for all of us: China and others are being hypocritical calling for non-intervention in Venezuela’s affairs. Their own financial interventions have helped destroy that country.”
Pompeo said China is a major US trading partner, but that its “trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic.”
He also criticized Russia’s links with leaders in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“Flying in troops and opening a training center in Venezuela are obvious provocations,” he said. “We shouldn’t stand for Russia escalating an already very precarious situation in that country.”