Vice President Mike Pence promised that the United States will “continue to take action” against Venezuela’s dictatorship until demands are met, including the release of political prisoners and restoration of democracy, during remarks in Colombia on Sunday and Monday.
On Monday, Vice President Pence told reporters the story of a grandmother who had explained to him that her grandchildren struggle just to buy a piece of bread, waking early to get a ticket and stand in line for hours to do so. The grandmother told him that this has been going on since the beginning of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
The vice president spoke of Venezuela’s collapse from prosperity into “dictatorship and poverty and deprivation.” He highlighted the hundreds of political prisoners and more than 130 Venezuelans who have died because they opposed the Maduro regime. “A failed state in Venezuela will become an even greater problem for narcotics trafficking … will drive even greater illegal migration across central America and into our country,” compromising the U.S. border, economy, and in some cases the security of American communities.
In a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday, Pence cited President Donald Trump as he described the horror in Venezuela and stated that “innocent children are perishing every day from hunger.”
Pence relayed that the President directed him to make the trip to Central America with a message of compassion for the people there. “Venezuela is collapsing into dictatorship,” Pence asserted, citing several indicators of that, including food and medicine shortages and extreme human rights violations committed by the Maduro regime.
In the Sunday remarks, vice president Pence said, “The Maduro regime has ignored and undermined its national Assembly. It’s stifled the voices of a free press and the masses alike, and imprisoned countless political opponents.” He also mentioned the imprisoned and killed Venezuelans who have fought “for democracy.”
He went on to say in Sunday’s joint press conference with Santos:
Last week, 12 nations, including Colombia, jointly issued the Lima Declaration — a strong statement of the region’s opposition to the Maduro regime’s abuse of power and abuse of the Venezuelan people.
At President Trump’s direction, the United States of America has issued three rounds of targeted sanctions, including new sanctions just last week, against Maduro and his inner circle. And you can be assured, Mr. President, we will continue to take action until the Maduro regime restores democracy, holds free and fair elections, releases all political prisoners, and ends the repression of the Venezuelan people.
The following day, Pence noted that “the President said we have many options with regard to Venezuela.”
He said the U.S. is committed to using economic and diplomatic power to see democracy restored in Venezuela not only because it is “right,” but “because, as President Trump has said, in his words, a ‘stable and peaceful Venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere.’ Failed states know no borders.”
Asked during media Q&A on Sunday if the U.S. is “looking for support in Latin America for that military intervention,” Pence replied that the Trump Administration is seeking peaceful means of restoring democracy in Venezuela. President Santos simply responded that “military intervention would be unacceptable to all countries in Latin America.”
Pence went on to tell reporters that he would “anticipate additional U.S. action” to isolate Venezuela economically and diplomatically “sooner rather than later.” He added, “We’ll be talking to our allies across the region on this trip.”
Late Monday, Pence continued on to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he will meet with President Mauricio Macri. From there, he will go on to visit with President Michelle Bachelet in Chile, and President Juan Varela in Panama.
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