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Nikki Haley Calls for Regime Change in Venezuela: 'It's Time for Maduro to Go!'

Nikki Haley speaks at the Council of the Americas

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro to step down on Tuesday, calling the elections scheduled for May 20 a "sham." She noted that Venezuelan migrants are causing a crisis in Latin America similar to the crisis of Syrian migrants in Europe, and that Venezuela's "implosion" represents a threat to Latin America.

"The systematic oppression of the Venezuelan people has become an active threat to the entire region," Haley declared at a conference on Latin America at the State Department. "For the safety and the security of all people in Latin America, it is time for Maduro to go."

Haley powerfully backed up this call for regime change by referencing the current state of affairs in Venezuela and the surrounding region, and the ideological divide in the region.

"Venezuela’s economy and civil society has seen a cataclysmic decline under Chavez and Maduro," the UN ambassador declared. "In a region where 31 percent of the people are poor, a stunning 87 percent of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. A full 90 percent say they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Venezuelans live in conditions today that they haven’t experienced in over a hundred years. Children are dying of malnutrition. Hospitals are without medicine and supplies. Once eradicated diseases are now reappearing."

In a tragic event demonstrating this "tragic suffering," Roman Catholic churches ran out of Communion wafers on the eve of Easter, and Catholics from Colombia trekked across the Andes to deliver much-needed wafers.

Haley declared that "the Venezuelan people no longer have a government. They are the unwilling victims of a criminal narcostate, and it was only a matter of time before the Venezuelan crisis became a regional crisis."

That crisis has indeed spread beyond the borders of Venezuela. Since 2014, according to the UN, an estimated 1.5 million people have fled the country, and Haley noted that they are "straining state resources in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and elsewhere." Colombia has taken in more than 600,000 migrants. The U.S. will provide an additional $18.5 million in funding for displaced Venezuelans in Colombia.

"Venezuelan migrants, like those from Syria and other countries, want more than anything else to be able to go home, and that makes the real regional problem not a lack of resources but the continued rule of the Maduro regime," Haley declared. "As long as Maduro keeps the stores empty, the streets dangerous, and the government unaccountable, Venezuelans will not return home and instability in the region will grow."

The UN.ambassador also noted that the Maduro regime once propped up Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, but in the absence of Venezuelan support, Nicaragua has started falling apart. Protesters have made their demands known, and Ortega's government has resorted to violence, even killing one journalist while broadcasting live on Facebook.