Trump 'military' talk on Venezuela unnerves LatAm

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The United States, however, has held off on oil-related measures for now, mindful of the potential not only for deepening the suffering of the Venezuelan people but also the risk of causing problems for US companies and consumers.

In this context, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence heads to four Latin American countries, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama in the next few days.

It was one of Maduro's fiercest critics, Peru, that led the charge in criticizing Trump's threat, saying it was against United Nations principles.

Also Saturday, Peru said "any attempted use of force, whether it's external or internal, undermines the objective of restoring democracy ... to Venezuela".

Nearly since Maduro took office in 2013, he has been warning of USA military designs on Venezuela, home to the world's largest oil reserves.

But on Saturday the bloc was condemning Washington's saber rattling.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro says he wants a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump " the same man he routinely ridicules as a crass imperial magnate.

Trump's comments have been downplayed by the State Department and Pentagon, but have drawn the ire of a region that has always been sensitive to Washington meddling and CIA-backed coups.

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Following the installation of the National Constituent Assembly last Friday, the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has put his leadership into the hands of the body's representatives.

The remarks came shortly after Maduro forcefully warned the US president that Venezuela "will never give in".

"It's hard to imagine a worse time for Trump to make this threat", David Smilde, a senior fellow with the Washington Office on Latin America, said in a statement.

Mr Maduro's loyalist Supreme Court has, meanwhile, stepped up the prosecution of opposition politicians including Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the wealthy Chacao district of capital city Caracas. And the regime's use of excessive force and mass detentions had repulsed all but its staunchest allies in the region. Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, said Mr. Trump's statement would be seen as an escalation of the aggressive American messages against the country's leftist movement.

"The daring threats of President Donald Trump intend to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter the stability, peace and security of our region", Arreaza said at a press conference.

Venezuela's government has been severely criticised by the worldwide community for creating a National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which will rewrite the Constitution. "And since they are empty threats, Maduro faces no new consequences by taking a tough stand, both rhetorically and against the opposition". On Friday, the government announced that it had captured former National Guard Capt. Juan Carlos Caguaripano, who is accused of leading an August 6 raid on a military base.

She also said that, for representing the highest post of the homeland, "all unilateral sanctions against President Maduro, are an offense to the people of Venezuela". "Violence [is] not the answer".

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