The Venezuelan opposition and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos have both joined the growing chorus of voices in Latin America warning the Trump administration against any possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
Vice President Mike Pence's trip to four countries in Latin America this week began with an unequivocal message for the Trump administration from Santos on Sunday.
"I've told Vice President Pence the possibility of military intervention shouldn't even be considered," Santos said in a joint press conference in Cartagena, Colombia. "A transition in the Venezuelan regime toward democracy must be a peaceful transition. It must be hopefully a democratic transition. And it must be done quickly."
President Donald Trump said last Friday that he would not rule out actions by the U.S. military in the South American country, where protests have broken out in recent weeks against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro was able to consolidate his power in a controversial election on July 30, when the opposition-led National Assembly was replaced with a new governing body filled with members of his party, giving the United Socialist Party the power to rewrite the country's constitution. A voting software company involved in the election has said the Venezuelan government lied about voter turnout, calling the election results into question. Millions have protested Maduro's power grab, and more than 120 people have died in demonstrations since April.
Pence distanced himself from Trump's comments while also appearing to leave the possibility of military action open, saying at his meeting with Santos, "We have many options for Venezuela, but President Trump also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America, we can achieve a peaceable solution."
In an interview with MSNBC on Monday, Pence added, "The United States is not going to tolerate Venezuela collapsing into a dictatorship."
The Venezuelan opposition party, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), said Sunday that it rejected "the use of force, or the threat of applying such force, by whatever country against Venezuela." The statement followed emphatic denunciations of Trump's threats by the governments of Latin American countries including Argentina and Chile, both of which are strongly opposed to the Maduro regime's recent actions, and which Pence will be visiting this week.