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Vice-president Mike Pence tempers Trump’s threat of military intervention in Venezuela

Vice-president Mike Pence tempers Trump’s threat of military intervention in Venezuela

Mike Pence, right, at a press conference with President Santos of Colombia, sought to play down President Trump’s bellicose warnings to Venezuela

Mike Pence, right, at a press conference with President Santos of Colombia, sought to play down President Trump’s bellicose warnings to Venezuela

Mike Pence, the US vice-president, said he is confident of finding a peaceful solution to turmoil in Venezuela as he moved to play down President Trump’s warning of military intervention.

At the start of a tour of the region Mr Pence said the US was aiming to work “with all of our allies across Latin America” to end the civil and political unrest that has swept the country and restore democratic rule.

After Mr Trump shocked Latin American leaders by saying that he was mulling a range of scenarios “including a possible military option if necessary”, Mr Pence sought to clarify the White House’s position in a joint press conference with President Santos of Colombia last night.

“We have many options for Venezuela, but the president also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America we can achieve a peaceable solution,” he said. “We will continue to stand with free nations across our hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people.”

Mr Santos, whose government has strong ties with the US and is a fierce critic of Venezuela, said that “the possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered”.

His comments chime with fellow leaders in the region who condemned Mr Trump’s comments on Friday, including Venezuela’s own opposition who rejected “the use of force, or the threat of applying such force, by whatever country against Venezuela”.

However, tightening sanctions from the US and escalating rhetoric will alarm many of Venezuela’s leftist allies, such as Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua, which have all backed Venezuela in a confrontation against the “imperialist” US.Although the US has avoided military intervention in Latin America for 20 years, America’s history of propping up military dictators and sponsoring guerrilla groups and paramilitaries still haunts the region.

Mr Pence’s week-long visit will bypass all of Venezuela’s allies, with the vice-president stopping in Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama instead. He said last night that the trip was “to marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America to achieve by peaceable means the restoration of democracy in Latin America, and we believe it is achievable by those means”.

Responding to questions on Mr Trump’s threat of military action, he said: “President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says.”

President Maduro’s move to create a puppet assembly which usurps the opposition-controlled legislature has tipped Venezuela into chaos with almost daily demonstrations since April leaving more than 120 dead.

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