Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is looking for ways to get humanitarian assistance into Venezuela, after troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro repelled aid trucks in clashes at the borders with Brazil and Colombia.
The top U.S. diplomat, in an interview Sunday on CNN, did not suggest how the U.S. might carry out the aid mission in the face of armed opposition.
He said, however, that the United States would consider imposing more sanctions against the Venezuelan government to increase pressure on Maduro to quit in favor of the country's interim president, Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly. Guaido is considered by the U.S. and dozens of other countries as the legitimate leader in Caracas.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is meeting Monday with Guaido and other regional leaders in Bogota, the Colombian capital, to discuss a strategy against Maduro.
On Saturday, Maduro supporters fired bullets at those attempting to get aid trucks into Venezuela, while Venezuelan border troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
At one border point, aid trucks caught fire, leading the crowd to rush to save the boxes of food and medical supplies.
Afterward, Guaido pressed the case for new foreign assistance to oust Maduro. "Today's events force me to make a decision: to pose to the international community in a formal way that we must have all options open to achieve the liberation of this country that is fighting and will continue to fight," he said on Twitter.
The European Union, also supporting Guaido, condemned Maduro's actions to repel the trucks with the humanitarian aid. "We repudiate the use of irregular armed groups to intimidate civilians and lawmakers who have mobilized to distribute assistance," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on behalf of the 28-member bloc of countries.
Sunday, Pompeo deplored the fact that the Venezuelan military, despite a small number of defections to the opposition, has mostly remained loyal to Maduro.
"We hope the military will take that role back in protecting their citizens from these tragedies. If that happens, I think good things will happen," he said.