Venezuelan opposition leaders are lining up in droves to pick up the mantle of presidency once Nicolas Maduro is ousted with Washington's help – and the US is struggling to get them to work together, the Washington Post reported citing a leaked audio. The recording was allegedly made during Pompeo's meeting with Jewish leaders last week.
The effort to cobble together a united front against Maduro is not a thing of "these past months," according to Pompeo. It has been ongoing since he became CIA director, just after Donald Trump's swearing-in as president.
"Since the day I became CIA director, that was something that was at the center of what President Donald Trump was trying to do," he said.
The task "has proven devilishly difficult" though, as everybody in the opposition camp is after their own interests and wants to fight over the spoils rather than focus on the common cause of a coup.
"The moment Maduro leaves, everybody's going to raise their hands and [say], "Take me, I'm the next president of Venezuela.' It would be forty-plus people who believe they're the rightful heir to Maduro," Pompeo reportedly said in the audio.
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In an attempt to force Washington's various stooges to team up, Pompeo sought to enlist help from religious organizations.
"We were trying to support various religious... institutions to get the opposition to come together," he said.
Pompeo blamed the disarray among the opposition for the failure of the April 30 coup attempt by a group of soldiers, which fizzled out within 24 hours.
He maintained that Maduro is overwhelmingly under the influence of foreign backers, mainly Cuba – an idea often repeated by Washington and recently used to put more sanctions on Havana. Venezuelans don't like Maduro, but are looking out for themselves instead of working towards Washington's goals, he complained.
"He [Maduro] doesn't trust Venezuelans a lick. I don't blame him. He shouldn't. They were all plotting against him. Sadly, they were all plotting for themselves."
While the US says that all options, including military, are on the table in Venezuela and pushes the crisis-hit Latin American country further into destitution with crippling economic sanctions, the opposition and the Maduro government are making tentative attempts at dialogue. Late last month, a second round of talks between representatives of self-declared 'interim president' Juan Guaido and Maduro was held in Oslo, but ended without any deal.