WASHINGTON – US Vice President Mike Pence met with his Brazilian counterpart Hamilton Mourão at the White House yesterday to discuss sanctions and diplomatic efforts to increase pressure and force the departure of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, said a White House source.
In his first talks with Mourão, Pence sought to encourage the former Brazilian general to use his experience and influence with Venezuelan military leaders as well as with China and Russia to withdraw their support for Maduro, a senior official at White House.
The United States and most Western countries supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who attempted to invoked the constitution to declare himself acting president in January, arguing that Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was illegitimate.
Maduro, who is backed by Russia and China and controls the country’s state and army, said Guaidó is a puppet of the United States.
Guaidó offered an amnesty to the members of the Armed Forces who support him, but the entirety of the high command remained faithful to Maduro and only tens of lower ranked soldiers denoucning Maduro.
Mourão, who was a Brazilian defenсe attache in Caracas during his service in the military, “has a very unique perspective” from which to communicate with Venezuela’s top ranking officers, the official said.
“He speaks with a unique credibility from within the region as a senior political leader with a military background. That voice is very important, and he is using that voice to advance the cause,” the source said.
Mourão is also well placed to dialogue with Russia and China for their support of Maduro, as Brazil is a partner with BRICS, the group of the largest emerging market economies, the official said.
The official also noted that Mourao is in a good position to confront Russia and China, who support the legitimate president Maduro, since Brazil is a part of BRICS group of the world’s largest emerging market economies. The group is named after first letters of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The US seeks to win the support of other countries — like Brazil — to isolate Venezuela, the official said.