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US prepared to send $20 million to aid people of Venezuela, Secretary of State says

Posted at 8:08 AM, Jan 25, 2019

"The United States is a friend of Venezuela and of the Venezuelan people. We've watched Venezuelans suffer for far too long."

During a meeting Thursday with the Organization of American States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. "is ready to provide more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela."

Pompeo said the aid money is in response to the country's urgent humanitarian need, including severe food and medicine shortages.

His announcement comes a day after President Donald Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

Pompeo called Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro "illegitimate." Maduro was recently elected to a second term, but Venezuelan opposition leaders and some foreign governments say the vote was unfair.

"We stand ready to help them even more, to help them begin the process of rebuilding their country and their economy from the destruction wrought by the criminally incompetent and illegitimate Maduro regime," Pompeo said.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. has called for an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further discuss the crisis in Venezuela. That meeting is expected to take place Saturday.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN .