By Humeyra Pamuk and Oliver Griffin
BOGOTA (Reuters) – There will be more action by the United States to support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, after meeting with Guaido on the sidelines of a regional conference in Bogota.
The South American country, which is suffering an economic collapse and hyperinflation under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro, is a failed state, Pompeo said.
Guaido, recognized as his crisis-ridden nation’s legitimate president by more than 50 countries including the United States, defied a court order to travel to Colombia.
“I would fully expect there will be further action that the United States would take to continue to support President Guaido and the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo told journalists.
“We do not talk about particular sanctions but everyone can fully expect that the United States is not done,” Pompeo added, without specifying what action Washington will take.
Pompeo declined to address whether the United States is prepared to sanction Russia over its backing of Maduro.
Guaido will next travel to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum.
“We will have important meetings in Europe, in the European Union and specifically in Davos,” Guaido told journalists. “There are forces that are uncontainable, like those that seek democracy.”
Guaido would not confirm whether he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Davos.
The trip will help gain global attention for Guaido as Venezuela’s political stalemate drags on and the country’s parliament is increasingly beset by violence.
There is little chance Guaido’s tour will break Venezuela’s deadlock, however, as the military continues to stand by the ruling Socialist Party and Maduro has shown himself to be resilient to U.S. sanctions.
“It’s utterly irrelevant for us that a lackey has gone to meet his masters in Colombia,” said ruling Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello in a Caracas press conference, referring to Guaido. “He hasn’t achieved anything he promised.”
Colombia and the United States accuse Maduro of harboring armed groups like Colombia’s own Marxist-led National Liberation Army rebels and of having connections to everyone from drug traffickers to Hezbollah.
Maduro has branded Guaido as a U.S. puppet and said the United States wants to invade Venezuela.
“(Maduro is) now running an operation that looks more like a cartel than anything else that one could describe. This isn’t good for Venezuela, it’s not good for the countries that are around Venezuela,” Pompeo said.
In his comments, Pompeo also applauded Colombia and other Latin American countries’ for their recent designations of Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Oliver Griffin, additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown and Franklin Paul)