Cuban, Hezbollah and Iranian cells drawn to embattled Venezuela: Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells FOX Business’ Trish Regan that the crisis in Venezuela raises the risk of turning the Latin American country into a no-man’s land, with bad actors from Cuba, Hezbollah and Iran influencing the region.

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“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells – the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America,” he said Wednesday. “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.”

The chaos in socialist Venezuela continues as pro- and anti-government demonstrators clash over the leadership and legitimacy of disputed president Nicolás Maduro.

“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells – the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela.”

- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo said the Maduro regime is being protected by Cuba, which  actively and effectively running the country.

“The Cubans invaded Venezuela,” Pompeo said on “Trish Regan Primetime.” “The Cubans have been controlling the security apparatus, protecting Maduro and destroying the way of life for the Venezuelan people for an awfully long time.”

The Venezuelan people are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis as Maduro reportedly blocks aid from entering country, telling his military, “We are not beggars,” while insisting no such crisis exists in the South American country.

The secretary of state said Maduro is actively denying the Venezuelan people basic food and medical care.

“Today we tried to deliver humanitarian assistance from … the United States and Colombia into Venezuela and the Venezuelan military under the direction of Mr. Maduro stopped that,” Pompeo said. “This is horrific stuff.”

President Trump has vowed to use the “full weight” of America’s power to help the poverty-stricken country go from a socialist state to a democratic Venezuela.

“We’re supporting the Venezuelan people who have for far too long now suffered under the hand of Mr. Maduro,” Pompeo said. “The people know better.”

As Maduro clings to power, five U.S. citizens from Texas and Louisiana are still stuck in a Venezuelan prison. The executives, Gustavo Cardenas, Tomeu Vadell, Jorge Toledo, Alirio Zambrano, José Luis Zambrano along with Citgo’s former CEO José Angel Pereira, were detained by Venezuelan authorities during a business trip to Caracas and have been held since Nov. 21, 2017.

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The daughters of Vadell have pleaded for the father’s release, telling Regan that they’re hoping a regime change could bring their father home to Louisiana.

“It’s time for them to come home,” Cristina Vadell said.

Pompeo said that the U.S. government is focused on obtaining the release of any American who’s wrongfully detained.

“I can assure the American people that we are working diligently to make sure that no American is wrongfully detained by Mr. Maduro,” he said.