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Pence downplays possibility of military intervention in Venezuela

Clashes in Venezuela

During a joint press conference in Argentina with President Mauricio Macri, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration wants to help protect democracy in the embattled nation of Venezuela, while downplaying the possibility U.S. military intervention. 

"In Venezuela, we are seeing tragedy of tyranny play out before our own eyes in our own hemisphere," said Pence at the Tuesday press conference. "The U.S. will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," he added. 

As Macri told reporters he was reassured by the "levels of agreement" between the U.S. and Argentina on how to tackle the issue of Venezuela, he also urged an emphasis on "diplomatic and economic skills" instead of military options. Venezuela has been stricken by violent protests in recent months amid massive inflation, food shortages, and efforts to quell dissent by the country's socialist government. 

"We do not see force as an option to resolve the conflict in Venezuela," Macri said flatly.

Pence said Mr. Trump has "made clear the U.S. has many options, and we reserve those options" when it comes to dealing with Venezuela. 

"The United States will continue to bring the full economic power to bear on Venezuela," said Pence. "The president and I remain confident we will achieve a peaceable solution to the crisis facing Venezuelan people. And know this, Mr. President, what we do for Venezuela, we will do together."

Pence echoed his sentiments from earlier in remarks made to Argentinian business leaders Tuesday afternoon, emphasizing the need for collaboration between the United States and Latin American countries in using economic and diplomatic measures to restore democracy in Venezuela. 

"As President Trump said just a few days ago, we have many options for Venezuela," he said. "But the president also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America, and across the wider world, that we can achieve a peaceable solution restoring democracy and ending the crisis facing the people of Venezuela. But it will take all of us to do it."

Pence sounded a similar note over the weekend. "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 Venezuela, and we believe it is achievable by those means," said Pence at a Sunday press conference in Cartegena, Colombia

Mr. Trump previously had announced alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that he "wouldn't rule out a military option" in handling the crisis.