Santos and Pence speak about Venezuela

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, met with the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos on August 13th, 2017. Among the main topics covered in their meeting was the role that the U.S would take in restoring democracy in Venezuela.

Santos held the position that US military intervention in Venezuela should be ruled out in response to President Trump’s earlier statement, directed at Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, mentioning the possibility of U.S.military intervention as an "option for Venezuela". 

"We have many options for Venezuela," Said Trump, "And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option, we have many options for Venezuela."

President Santos made it clear in his meeting with Pence that Latin Americans would not accept any form of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. When questioned on “ghost military interventions” he said, nobody in Latin America wants “the phantom” to reappear.

President Santos on U.S. Military intervention in Venezuela (as interpreted): 

“In the sister nation of Venezuela, they are destroying the freedom and institutional framework and institutional order.  Your country, Vice President, and my country have always defended the legacy of our founding farmers -- freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, and, naturally, peace.  And those are values that we must always uphold and defend -- always.  And that's why we must do everything possible so that Venezuela reestablishes its democracy.”
“But since friends have to tell each other the truth, I have told Vice President Pence that the possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered, neither in Colombia nor in Latin America.  From the south of the Rio Grande to the Patagonia, could we agree on this?  America is a continent of peace.  It is the land of peace.  Let us preserve it as such.”

While Pence said little that directly spoke to the president’s statement that he would not rule out military intervention he said things like: “President Trump is a leader who says what he means, and means what he says.” and  that he was sent to Latin America by President Trump to “marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America” when asked specifically about the possibility of U.S military intervention.

Read the full transcript from the White House here "Remarks by Vice President Pence and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference"

Vice President Pence on Military intervention Venezuela:

“In Venezuela, we're seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our eyes.  As President Trump has said, in his words, “The [Venezuelan] people are suffering and they are dying.”  They're experiencing grinding poverty.  Families cannot find the food and medicine they need to survive.  Innocent children are perishing every day from hunger. […]

 “The United States, Colombia, and free nations of Latin America will not be silent.  Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Donald Trump has said, “The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.”  We will continue to stand with free nations across our hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people.” […]

“As President Trump said just a few days ago, “We have many options for Venezuela.”  But the President also remains confident that, working with all of our allies across Latin America, we can achieve a peaceable solution to the crisis facing the Venezuelan people.”

Read the full transcript from the White House here "Remarks by Vice President Pence and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference"

A Crazy Act

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 on the state owned TV Network VTV.

The Phantom

CNN reported that critics of Trump have said he is playing into Maduro's hand, as Maduro has spoken for a long time about U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. Pence began his Latin American tour in Colombia and will in Panama tomorrow, August 17th, 2017. Several groups including Panama’s Front for Democracy (FAD) and members of Suntracs have already organized protests to mark the Vice President’s arrival.

In a press conference Tuesday, spokesman Hector Hurtado of FAD said:

“This man is not welcome and the social movements are going to show up against his arrival to show our solidarity with the peoples of Latin America who have been attacked by the American empire.”

The United States, he added, “is an empire that continues to impoverish Latin America and generate wars and invasions and we cannot allow them to come and give orders to Panama.”

Recalling the ghost of U.S. military intervention in Panama Hurtado spoke to the march will take place on the avenue named in memory of the Panamanians who died on January 9, 1964, during a student protest.

The FAD also condemned the words of US President Donald Trump, who said last week that his Administration does not rule out the “military option.”