Pence to begin Latin America tour as global crises grow

Supporter The Snapchat user who caught the president on camera in his clubhouse was clearly a backer of the commander-in-chief

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.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela. On Wednesday, David Smolansky, an opposition mayor of a district in Caracas, the capital, was given a 15-month sentence for disobeying orders to shut down protests.

"It is a insane act, the ultimate manifestation of extremism".

"Offenses and aggresions against the top investiture of the nation will be repudiated by the anti-imperialist people of Venezuela", assured Rodriguez.

The U.S. government, which backs the opposition coalition, condemned the election for the ANC, claiming it "undermines the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination".

US engagement with other countries has not been constant and may have benefited more from the deteriorating situation in Venezuela than any concerted diplomatic outreach.

Yet a number of leaders, amid prodding from the Trump administration, have lately been overcoming their reluctance to intervene in a neighbor's internal political affairs after looking the other ways for years on Venezuela.

President Donald Trump with from left Secretary of State Rex Tillerson U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and national security adviser H.R. McMaster arrive to speak to members of the media following their meeting at Trump National Golf

The foreign ministry statement referred to Kuczynski as an "enemy" of Venezuela and Latin America unity while recalling the sacrifice made by Venezuelan soldiers led by Simon Bolivar who liberated both countries from Spain in the 19th century. Suspicion and resentment linger in many corners of the region, a reflection of years past when US troops did in fact invade parts of Latin America to oust leftist leaders or collect unpaid debts.

The vote was boycotted by the opposition, who accused Maduro of using the vote to consolidate power.

Saturday's statement by the Foreign Ministry reiterated concerns about a "breakdown in the democratic order" in Venezuela and called for the United Nations secretary-general to help negotiate a solution.

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

Trump said Venezuela's political crisis was among the topics discussed at the talks he hosted in New Jersey yesterday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Marches against Maduro were held in Caracas on Saturday, with few confrontations with state security forces and no deaths. Venezuela can still count on support from leftist allies Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, as well as a handful of Caribbean nations that depend on it for cheap or free oil.

"Frankly, it is irresponsible on his part", Andrea Saldarriaga Jiménez, Assistant Director at the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center in Washington, said of Trump's statements in a phone interview.

Maduro seemed to be enjoying his twist of fate, retweeting messages from longtime critics, including former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who routinely calls Maduro a dictator and tyrant.

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