Aircraft on tarmac (© Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)
A Russian aircraft at Simón Bolívar airport in Caracas on March 29. (© Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

As interim President Juan Guaidó works to restore democracy and prosperity to Venezuela, Russia continues to support Nicolás Maduro and his cronies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cited Russian loans and investments that have propped up the illegitimate Maduro regime at the expense of the Venezuelan economy.

The Russian government loaned Maduro $3 billion in 2017, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Russia’s state-backed oil company, Rosneft, also loaned the regime $2.5 billion in exchange for Venezuelan oil. And Russia continues to supply Maduro with military equipment and weapons systems. In March 2019, for example, Moscow flew 100 military personnel and equipment to Caracas under the guise of humanitarian aid.

“We shouldn’t stand for Russia escalating an already very precarious situation in that country,” said Pompeo during his April visit to Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia. “Russia intervened,” he said. “They don’t have the consent of the Venezuelan people to be there. They’re there as a hostile power.”

Refugee crisis a ‘direct result’ of Russian interference

Woman sitting on hospital bed holding infant (© Matias Delacroix /AFP/Getty)
A mother waits for medical attention with her newborn daughter in April at a Red Cross hospital in Caracas. (© Matias Delacroix /AFP/Getty)

“A hundred percent of the refugee challenge that is faced by Peru and Colombia is the direct result of the Russians, the Cubans, and Nicolás Maduro,” Pompeo said.

Venezuela suffers from rampant inflation and food and medicine shortages. Ninety percent of its population now lives in poverty. More than 850 political prisoners languish in jail, while 3.7 million people have fled the country. Thousands more flee every week.

Fifty-four nations recognize Guaidó as interim president under Venezuela’s constitution. Leaders worldwide have stressed the need to support Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly.

“The people of Venezuela want their own security. They want their own democracy,” said Pompeo. “They want Venezuelans to lead their nation, not people from Russia.”