Pence demands Russian troops exit Venezuela — ‘this is our neighborhood’

Pence demands Russian troops exit Venezuela — ‘this is our neighborhood’

By Luke Vargas   
Published
A U.N. interpreter looks on as Vice President Mike Pence addresses a meeting of the Security Council on Venezuela. April 10, 2019. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
A U.N. interpreter looks on as Vice President Mike Pence addresses a meeting of the Security Council on Venezuela. April 10, 2019. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The vice president seemed to invoke the Monroe Doctrine in telling foreign powers to stay away from Washington's sphere of influence.

UNITED NATIONS — Vice President Mike Pence demanded on Wednesday that Russia pull its troops out of Venezuela, using a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to declare that the ongoing crisis in the South American country was in Washington’s sphere of influence.

“This is our neighborhood, and the president’s made it clear that whether it be Russia or whether it be other nations, that they need to step aside, they need to cease efforts to stand in the way of economic and diplomatic pressure, and they need to cease supporting the Maduro regime.”

Pence’s comments seemed to invoke the Monroe Doctrine, an argument dating to the 1820’s that the western hemisphere was the exclusive domain of the U.S. and that foreign meddling in the Americas amounted to a hostile act.

Richard Gowan is the U.N. Director for the International Crisis Group.

“I think that the gloves are off and while Nikki Haley was a strong promoter of ‘America First’ at the U.N., Pence is considerably more assertive.”

Case in point, Pence stared down Venezuela’s U.N. ambassador and told him to go home, warning the U.S. would soon introduce a U.N. resolution recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s U.N. ambassador instead.

Pence seem unaware the U.N.’s Credentials Committee, not the Security Council, makes such decisions, but Gowan says Pence’s comments revealed a larger oversight.

“There’s a growing sense that the U.S. maximum pressure approach to Venezuela inside and outside the U.N. is losing some support.”

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, an analyst for Latin America at the Cato Institute, agrees.

“I perceive that the European Union in particular is getting cold feet regarding the strategy towards Venezuela.”

Perhaps sensing that Pence’s appeals weren’t having their intended effect, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya used language familiar to Pence to suggest the U.S. mind its own business.

“If you want to make America great again — and we’re all sincerely interested in seeing that — stop interfering in the affairs of other states. You will only get respect from that. You don’t like when others interfere in your affairs. No one likes that.”

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