Vice President Pence called out Venezuela’s United Nations ambassador to his face while addressing the body’s Security Council on Wednesday — a speech he used to declare it’s time for Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to step down.
“With all due respect, Mr. Ambassador, you shouldn’t be here,” he said, looking directly at the representative, Samuel Moncada, who was in the room. “You should return to Venezuela and tell Nicolas Maduro that his time is up. It’s time for him to go.”
Moncada looked up from his phone and shook his head at Pence’s remarks.
Pence urged the Security Council to act to end the Maduro regime and recognize Interim President Juan Guaido. He said also it’s time for the U.N. to seat Guaido’s representative at the U.N. — and expel the current representative.
“Now it’s time for the United Nations to act, and for the world to stand with the people of Venezuela as they march for freedom,” Pence said.
He also announced the U.S. will be providing nearly $61 million in humanitarian assistance, in addition to the $213 million the State Department says it has already provided to Venezuelan refugees living in nearby countries — as well as $43 million in development and economic assistance.
The U.S. has also increased sanctions on the country to pressure the government to hand over power to opposition leaders, who are largely supported by the country’s population.
But he faced immediate opposition from Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who said the United States has “artificially provoked a crisis in this country in order to overthrow a legitimately elected leader and replace him with their own pawn.”
Russia, Iran, China and Cuba are among the countries that have backed Maduro, while most Latin American countries have recognized Guaido.
The back and forth came amid bleak news for the Latin American country gripped by an escalating humanitarian crisis.
U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said the crisis has worsened and that 25 percent of the population need humanitarian aid. He urged the U.N. to make a distinction between the political and humanitarian questions, and amp up efforts to provide humanitarian relief.
After the Security Council meeting, Pence told reporters he believed that the momentum is on the side of the U.S. position.
“We really do believe that freedom has the momentum but now it’s time for this body, this historic institution to step forward and to give voice to that momentum and we’re going to be reaching out to nations across the world to join us,” he said.
Fox News’ Lucia I. Suarez Sang and The Associated Press contributed to this report.