Latin America rejects Trump's Venezuela invasion threat

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday claimed that Washington is exploring "many options regarding Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary".

Trump also addressed rising tensions with North Korea, saying "hopefully it will all work out" between Pyongyang and the U.S. But when asked if the U.S. would go to war with North Korea, Trump offered a vague answer.

Trump's bellicosity, which generated banner news headlines across the hemisphere because it harked back to a generation of American imperialism, is likely to color Pence's trip, experts said.

Bahram Qassemi, the foreign ministry spokesman, strongly condemned the provocative and interfering remarks made by Trump about possibility of military action against Venezuela in a bid to resolve the ongoing crisis in the the Latin American state.

One such example, Mora said, is Human Rights Watch's Jose Miguel Vivanco, who tweeted that "Perhaps since Chavez named him his successor, no one had helped Maduro as much as Trump and this nonsense".

The leadership of the crisis-wracked nation - Latin America's biggest oil producer and an ally to Russian Federation and Cuba - suddenly found itself going from battling dissent, protests and growing worldwide isolation to contemplating U.S. military action last seen in the region in 1989, when American troops invaded Panama to topple its president, Manuel Noriega.

"We want to express gratitude for all the expressions of solidarity and rejection of the use of force from governments around the world, including Latin America", said Mr Arreaza, in a short speech on Saturday. Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all issued messages rejecting such a step.

Mora added that the option of some sort of more limited military action would not be effective enough to achieve any significant aims.

"Vice President Pence now needs to assure regional allies that the United States respects their diplomatic efforts and will not engage in unilateral measures that are guaranteed to be counterproductive", said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America and a Venezuela expert at Tulane University. It is an attack on the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people. Maduro "as soon as democracy is restored in that country".

"I think Pence's problem is that he is going to come to Latin America and people are going to ask him, 'Are you speaking on behalf of President Trump, are you speaking on behalf of the U.S. government?"

Vanessa Coleman

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