Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed Democratic socialist, refused to call for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro to step down Thursday.
The United States has declared Maduro, who was re-elected president last year, to be an illegitimate leader because of controversy surrounding the fairness of the election, particularly reports that Maduro was behind the jailing and torturing of political opponents. (RELATED: President Trump Makes First Call To Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó)
Venezuela’s socialist Maduro regime has also presided over unprecedented levels of monetary inflation and starvation among its people.
However, during an interview with “Al Punto,” Sanders would not follow the U.S. government in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president and refused to call on Maduro to step down.
“Do you consider Juan Guaidó the legitimate president of Venezuela?” anchor Jorge Ramos asked.
“No,” Sanders replied. “I think what has to happen right now, I think there are serious questions about the recent election. There are many people who feel it was a fraudulent election. And I think the United States has gotta work with the international community to make sure there is a free and fair election in Venezuela.”
Rather than call on Maduro to step down, Sanders suggested Venezuela was capable of holding a “free and fair election” that would determine whether or not he should continue to lead.
“I think clearly that he has been very, very abusive. That is a decision of the Venezuelan people. So I think, Jorge, there has got to be a free and fair election,” Sanders asserted.
President Donald Trump has kept all options on the table for dealing with the Maduro regime and has not ruled out military intervention.