Colombian President to Pence: No US military intervention in Venezuela
Posted August 14, 2017 12:36 a.m. EDT
Two days after US President Donald Trump said he would not rule out a military option to intervene in Venezuela, the President of Colombia had a message for his American counterpart: Rule it out.
Speaking alongside visiting US Vice President Mike Pence, Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos said Latin American nations favor "other measures" to bring about change in Venezuela.
"Since friends have to tell them the truth, I've told Vice President Pence the possibility of military intervention shouldn't even be considered," Santos said.
"The Latin American continent, every country in Latin America, would not favor any form of military intervention and that is why we are saying we are intent on looking into other measures some of which are already underway and others to be implemented in the future," Santos added.
"But a transition in the Venezuelan regime toward democracy must be a peaceful transition. It must be hopefully a democratic transition. And it must be done quickly."
Pence, who made Colombia his first stop on a four-country Latin American trip, said, "We have many options for Venezuela, but (President Trump) also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America, we can achieve a peaceable solution."
"In Venezuela, we're seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our eyes," Pence said. "Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Trump has said, the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles."
On Friday, Trump stepped up rhetoric directed at the regime of Venezuelan President Nicol-s Maduro, who Trump has called a "dictator."
Asked about the possibility of a military intervention in response to the mounting crisis in the country, Trump said that is something the United States "certainly could pursue."
"We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option," Trump said. "We have many options for Venezuela."
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino called Trump's talk of possible military action a "crazy act."
"As Minister of Defense and as a citizen I say this is a crazy act, an act of supreme extremism," Padrino said via phone on state-owned television network VTV.
Protests against the Maduro regime have rocked the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities in recent weeks, and more than 120 people have died in protest-linked incidents since April. The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela after a July 30 vote that allowed Maduro to replace the opposition-dominated National Assembly with a new 545-member Constituent Assembly filled with his supporters.
Responding Sunday to a question about Trump's threat of military action, Pence said, "President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says, but the President sent me here to continue 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."