Pompeo pledges $20 million in Venezuela aid at request of U.S.-backed opposition leader

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

/ CBS News

Trump recognizes Venezuela's opposition leader

Washington — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. government is prepared to dispatch more than $20 million in humanitarian aid to Venezuela as soon as "logistically possible." America's top diplomat said his announcement was in direct response to requests made by National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, recognized by the Trump administration and other countries as Venezuela's interim president.

"The United States is ready to provide more than 20 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela," Pompeo said Thursday during a special meeting held by the Organization of American States (OAS). "These funds are to help them cope with the severe food and medicine shortages, and other dire impacts of their country's political and economic crisis."

Guaidó, who leads the only opposition-controlled body in Venezuela, declared himself interim president on Wednesday as large groups of demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the repressive government of Nicolás Maduro, who has consolidated power in the oil-rich nation by stacking the judiciary with his supporters, overhauling the legislative branch and maintaining a tight grip on the military.

President Trump then announced the U.S. recognizes Guaidó as the country's legitimate interim leader.

Pompeo said the Trump administration will stand "solidly behind" Guaidó and the national assembly, and support efforts to "restore democracy and respect for the rule of law." He added that the U.S. government will only recognize actions by Guaidó's office and will deem all orders by Maduro "illegitimate" and "invalid."

Maduro said Wednesday his government would break diplomatic relations with the U.S. From the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, he told his ardent supporters that American diplomats had 72 hours to leave the country.

But Guaidó, in a letter posted on Twitter the same day, asked foreign diplomatic personnel to remain in Venezuela.

Late Wednesday night, Pompeo instructed America's diplomatic corps to stay in the country.

During the OAS session, Pompeo also called on all member states to rebuke Maduro's "now-defunct" and "criminally-incompetent" government and recognize Guaidó as the legitimate leader in Venezuela.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and several other nations joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaidó on Wednesday. Other countries refused to follow suit, and some came to the defense of Maduro's government, including the leftist governments in Cuba and Bolivia.

Bolivian president Evo Morales expressed his support for Maduro, a staunch ally and fellow leftist firebrand. "The claws of imperialism again seek to fatally harm the democracy and self-determination of the peoples of South America," Morales wrote on Twitter, denouncing American meddling in Latin America. A spokesperson for the Mexican foreign ministry said diplomatic relations between Mexico and Venezuela had not changed "for the time being."

Under Maduro — who replaced the late Hugo Chavez, another leader accused of authoritarian tendencies, in 2013 — Venezuela has been plagued by economic turmoil, skyrocketing inflation, food shortages, rampant crime and government corruption. The dire situation has prompted more than 2.3 million Venezuelans to flee the country since 2014, according to Human Rights Watch.

Christina Ruffini contributed to this report

First published on January 24, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pompeo pledges $20 million in aid to Venezuela

America's top diplomat called on other nations to shun the "now-defunct" Maduro regime and recognize the Venezuelan opposition

updated 3M ago

Keys to sales success for entrepreneurs

Forming a clear sales pitch, setting defined goals and tracking them regularly a proven path for business success

updated 39M ago

Jackson Lee steps down from leadership posts after lawsuit

The Texas Democrat is stepping down from two leadership posts after a lawsuit by a former employee

1H ago

Senate to vote on bills to fund government, though unlikely to pass

Competing bills being taken up in the Senate today are unlikely to end the government shutdown impasse

1H ago

Rape suspect "fooled everybody," says mom of another patient

"He was very loving, very compassionate. Or he pretended to be. And I really trusted him"

2H ago

Pompeo pledges $20 million in aid to Venezuela

America's top diplomat called on other nations to shun the "now-defunct" Maduro regime and recognize the Venezuelan opposition

updated 3M ago

Jackson Lee steps down from leadership posts after lawsuit

The Texas Democrat is stepping down from two leadership posts after a lawsuit by a former employee

1H ago

Senate to vote on bills to fund government, though unlikely to pass

Competing bills being taken up in the Senate today are unlikely to end the government shutdown impasse

1H ago

Wilbur Ross doesn't get why federal workers need food banks

The multimillionaire commerce secretary said federal workers should be able to take out loans

2H ago

Sen. Joni Ernst claims husband assaulted her, denies allegation of affair

The fourth-ranking Senate Republican accused her ex-husband in divorce documents of physically assaulting her before she was elected to the Senate

1H ago

Pompeo pledges $20 million in aid to Venezuela

America's top diplomat called on other nations to shun the "now-defunct" Maduro regime and recognize the Venezuelan opposition

updated 3M ago

"New abnormal": Doomsday Clock still at 2 minutes to midnight

"Though unchanged from 2018​, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability"

updated 21M ago

Soccer star's audio message from missing plane: "I'm so scared"

Emiliano Sala and his pilot disappeared Monday on the short flight between France and Britain, over the frigid waters of the English Channel

2H ago

Many not sleeping enough – or well enough – and that's a killer

An estimated one-third of Americans suffer chronic "sleep deficit," but it's become such a problem in Japan that some companies are taking action

3H ago

U.S. backing of Venezuelan opposition comes with risks

President Nicolas Maduro shunned by White House and U.S. allies, but some major world powers still have his back

4H ago

Dad and son dance to "Frozen" in viral video

When his son wanted to dance to "Frozen" songs, this dad put on an Elsa costume – because it's important to just "let it go" and be yourself

2H ago

"The Wizard of Oz" returning to theaters for 80th anniversary

You can see the beloved 1939 film in theaters starting this weekend

10H ago

Carrie Underwood welcomes baby No. 2

The country singer and her former hockey player husband welcomed baby number two on Monday

20H ago

Connie Britton on the "ambitious storytelling in "SMILF"

The Showtime comedy series follows a single mom struggling to give her son a better life

Jan 23

Alec Baldwin will take anger management class after guilty plea

He agreed to complete a one-day anger management class to resolve the criminal case

Jan 23

"New abnormal": Doomsday Clock still at 2 minutes to midnight

"Though unchanged from 2018​, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability"

updated 21M ago

Under Armour is developing spacesuits for Virgin Galactic

This comes as the race to make commercial space travel a reality is intensifying

3H ago

"Sheer terror": Family says Nest camera warned of N. Korea missile attack

They're demanding tech companies take stronger action to protect consumers after their home security system was hijacked

4H ago

Quarter of U.S. jobs could be jeopardized by AI, research shows

The most at-risk positions include cooks, waiters and others in food services, short-haul truckers and clerical workers, think tank's report says

7H ago

PG&E bankruptcy shows we don't know how to pay for climate change

As weather gets more extreme, corporations, citizens and politicians fight over who should pay for the damages

19H ago

Many not sleeping enough – or well enough – and that's a killer

An estimated one-third of Americans suffer chronic "sleep deficit," but it's become such a problem in Japan that some companies are taking action

3H ago

Family behind OxyContin maker fueled opioid crisis, Massachusetts AG says

In a lawsuit, the state targets eight members of the Sackler family, alleging they are "personally responsible" for deceptively selling OxyContin

3H ago

Gold Medal flour recalled over salmonella fears

General Mills says only five-pound bags with use-by dates of April 20 are affected and no related confirmed illnesses have been reported

3H ago

Formerly conjoined twins thriving after rare, complex surgery

The girls are among the youngest twins joined at the head​ to be successfully separated

18H ago

Emergency declared over measles in anti-vax hotspot

23 cases of measles have been confirmed and health officials are investigating two more suspected cases in Clark County, Washington

18H ago

KFC vows to cut its plastic waste

Fast-food chain joins Walmart, PepsiCo and other companies in pledging to use less plastic

updated 19M ago

Keys to sales success for entrepreneurs

Forming a clear sales pitch, setting defined goals and tracking them regularly a proven path for business success

updated 39M ago

Wilbur Ross doesn't get why federal workers need food banks

The multimillionaire commerce secretary said federal workers should be able to take out loans

2H ago

California's Berkeley approves 25-cent fee on disposable cups

The city's goal is to "incentivize people to bring their own cup" to coffee shops and restaurants, reducing waste

2H ago

Tax returns: How the government shutdown, new law will impact you

Tax filing officially kicks off on Monday. Here's what taxpayers need to know about 2019's tax season

3H ago

Rape suspect "fooled everybody," says mom of another patient

"He was very loving, very compassionate. Or he pretended to be. And I really trusted him"

2H ago

Man took bank "by force" before killing 5 women, police say

Authorities say Zephen Xaver opened fire inside SunTrust branch in Sebring, Florida

updated 15M ago

Ex-girlfriend gives new details about accused bank shooter

Zephen Xaver has long been fascinated with the idea of killing, former girlfriend tells CBS affiliate

3H ago

Jennie-O to donate $25,000 reward money to Jayme Closs

The FBI and Jennie-O contributed a total of $50,000 for information on Closs' whereabouts; she had been kidnapped for nearly three months

11H ago

5 people killed in Florida bank shooting; suspect in custody

Zephen Xaver, 21, has been taken into custody Wednesday after SWAT team entered SunTrust Bank branch in Sebring, Florida

9H ago