US looks for options as embattled Venezuelan leader hangs on


U.S. officials have been predicting for months that embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro would soon give up power in the face of economic sanctions and a coalition of more than 50 nations calling for him to step down.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Despite the sanctions, Maduro clings to power with help from Russia, China and Cuba. The international coalition that supports the opposition stands at 54 nations, although some longtime U.S. allies have refused to join the Trump administration in recognizing the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as interim president.

“We are continuing to push,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. “We are trying to bring more to the coalition of 54, and we are trying to get those 54 to impose sanctions that match the ones that the United States has imposed.”

Pompeo is scheduled to take that message on the road starting Thursday as he visits Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia. All four have joined the 14-member “Lima Group” of nations in support of Guaido. But the secretary will be asking for them to take additional steps to persuade Maduro to step down and allow a new election in the troubled country.

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