Regional Leaders Denounce Trump's Military Threat to Venezuela

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Venezuela's government is energetically rejecting U.S. President Donald Trump's talk of a potential "military option" to resolve the country's political crisis, calling it the most egregious act of belligerence against Venezuela in a century and a threat to Latin America's stability.

Regional alliance Mercosur added it rejected the use of force against Venezuela, despite having indefinitely suspended the country last week amid global condemnation of Maduro's new, all-powerful legislative superbody.

"Despite the current difficulties of reaching a peaceful and negotiated solution, we still believe that is the right path to find long-term solutions for the people of Venezuela", the ministry said.

Latin American support for Venezuela against the USA threat comes on the eve of Vice President Mike Pence's trip to the region beginning Sunday.

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

President Nicolas Maduro and his government have faced strong criticism from several Latin American nations over the controversial Constituent Assembly, which has the power to rewrite the country's constitution.

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Trump's saber-rattling has instead boosted Maduro's claim that American aggression is behind all of Venezuela's problems and that opposition leaders are puppets of the US and has even made some of the dictator's strongest detractors criticize Trump.

Trump's comments were downplayed by the State and Defense departments, but angered a region that has always been sensitive to Washington meddling and CIA-backed coups.

After four months of deadly protests against his government, Mr Maduro says the Assembly is Venezuela's only hope of obtaining peace by locking in the socialist policies of his mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. The government's use of excessive force and mass detentions has repulsed all but its staunchest allies in the region.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said USA military action in his country would be a "crazy act".

"The bad threats of President Donald Trump are trying to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that could permanently alter the stability, peace and security in our region", he said.

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