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Colombia's Santos: No Latin Leader Will Accept US Military Force in Venezuela

  • VOA News

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, left, talks to the media as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens during a joint press conference at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Aug. 13, 2017.

Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos says that no Latin America country would accept any form of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and that it should never even be considered.

Santos held a joint news conference Sunday in Cartagena with visiting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he will not rule out the possible use of the U.S. military to help restore democracy to Venezuela.

Recalling more than a century of U.S. military action throughout Latin America, Santos said no Latin leader wants "that phantom" to reappear.

He said a return to democracy in Venezuela must be peaceful, calling America a "continent of peace...let us preserve it as such."

Pence did not rule out using military force, but he did not directly talk about it, either.

The U.S. vice president said many options – including economic and diplomatic – were available to pressure the Maduro regime in Venezuela. He assured Santos and everyone that the U.S. will not stand by as Venezuela "crumbles" and slides into dictatorship.

He said a failed state in Venezuela endangers the entire continent. He said Trump sent him to Latin America to marshal and consolidate regional support for the need to help the Venezuelan people.

Earlier Sunday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told "Fox News Sunday" that Trump talked about the possibility of military action to "give the Venezuelan people hope and opportunity to create a situation where democracy can be restored." Venezuela called Trump's threat "reckless."

Colombia is the first stop on Pence's weeklong trip to to Latin America, which includes visits to Argentina, Chile, and Panama.

Pence and Santos also discussed cocaine and other drug trafficking and Colombia's so-far-successful peace agreement ending 50 years of war with FARC rebels.

In Chile, Pence will face questions over the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, Chile’s U.S. ambassador, Juan Gabriel Valdes, told the VOA Spanish service. "With or without the U.S., we will continue working in the Asia Pacific to push for an agreement that results in clear rules for everyone,” Valdes said.

He added that his nation hopes the United States does not follow through on the threat to leave the Paris climate agreement because Chile believes that climate change is real.

U.S. trading partner Panama, home to the Panama Canal, established diplomatic ties with China in June, and Pence’s upcoming visit comes against the backdrop of a growing Chinese trade role in the region.