Venezuelan Defense Minister Calls Trump's Military Action Warning 'Crazy Act'

Asked the military option would be a USA -led effort, Trump did not elaborate but said "We don't talk about it".

The sentence handed down Wednesday by the Supreme Court against David Smolansky, the opposition mayor of the Caracas suburb of El Hatillo, brought to 23 the number of mayors targeted by legal action, according to the opposition.

The US government has sanctioned more than 20 Venezuelan government officials in the last few weeks.

"We want to make sure that we don't have the unintended effect of doing more harm to USA refineries than the Maduro regime", Chet Thompson, CEO of a group representing 95 per cent of America's refining sector, told AP.

Venezuela has in turn accused the U.S. of "imperialist aggression".

Diodsado Cabello, the second-in-command of the socialist party and a delegate to the constitutional assembly, said gubernatorial candidates must win its approval.

They were supposed to take place past year but were delayed twice. The constitutional assembly could still decide to scrap elections altogether or alter the voting rules. The more than 500 new assembly members began working on Friday last week. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement Friday night, The Hill reported Saturday.

It adds that "the repudiation of violence and any option that implies the use of force is inalienable and constitutes the fundamental basis for democratic coexistence". Ben Sasse strongly rejected the president's latest suggestion that America should invade Venezuela.

The crisis has fuelled protests that have gripped Venezuela for the past four months.

The U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday that Venezuelan security forces have systematically wielded excessive force to suppress protests, killings dozens, and have arbitrarily detained 5,000 people since April, including 1,000 still in custody.

Trump's warning, and the reaction in the region, looked certain to dominate a trip to Latin America US Vice President Mike Pence was starting on Sunday.

Marco Rubio, Trump appears to have taken a personal interest in Venezuela and even met at the White House with the wife of a prominent jailed opposition leader.

Venezuela's government energetically rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's talk of a potential "military option" to resolve the country's political crisis on Saturday, calling it the most egregious act of belligerence against Venezuela in a century and a threat to stability in the region.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza shot back on state television that the USA was "making a fool of itself in front of the world".

For almost two decades, USA presidents have served as something of a rhetorical punching bag for Venezuela's ruling socialists.

The country's Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas, also in a state TV interview, called the threat from the United States "an unprecedented threat to national sovereignty". Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, said Mr. Trump's statement would be seen as an escalation of the aggressive American messages against the country's leftist movement.

In the July election of a legislative superbody packed with allies of unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro drew global condemnation for usurping the authority of Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress.

One expert called Trump's threat of military action "totally reckless" and a bluff.

Trump's statement suggested the USA may get more deeply involved in Venezuela, which has been subject to increasing sanctions since President Nicolas Maduro convened a national assembly created to rewrite the country's constitution and consolidate his power. He did not make any comments.

The United States and Venezuela have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

Vanessa Coleman

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