The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the recording to the Washington Post.
The Venezuelan opposition is divided, a fact which has presented challenges to the U.S. government in their efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro, admitted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a secret recording leaked Wednesday by the Washington Post.
“Our conundrum, which is to keep the opposition united, has proven devilishly difficult,” Pompeo added during a closed-door meeting in New York last week.
“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.”
He confessed that U.S. efforts to present a united front against Maduro have only proven effective as a "public" facade in the past months.
"But since the day I became CIA director, this was something that was at the center of what President Trump was trying to do: we were trying to support various religious ... institutions to get the opposition to come together,” he said.
Pompeo also commented on the selfish motivations behind Maduro's political opponents in their fight for power.
“You should know, [Maduro] is mostly surrounded by Cubans. He 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.”
Last month, the self-proclaimed president of Venezuela Juan Guaido failed to garner much support from the Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic, prompting him to call on the United States to intervene militarily on his behalf.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also offered incentives to Venezuela’s military in an attempt to convince them to turn against the legitimate President Nicolas Maduro, but his efforts were in vain.