"I'm not going to rule out a military option [to quell unrest in Venezuela]," said US President Donald Trump on Friday. "We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbor. We're all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary."
Host Brian Becker was joined by Arnold August, a journalist, lecturer, and author who specializes in Latin America. Becker asked how Trump's threats of a military response to the unrest in Cuba recolored Pence's visit to Latin countries.
"Pence is definitely trying to tread more cautiously after Trump's comments," said August. "We have to keep in mind… that it's very easy to say something with regard to military intervention, but when you're in Latin America you have to tread very carefully, because even those countries who oppose a Bolivarian Revolution would not accept military intervention in Latin America."
"President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says," Pence said. "But 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."
In other words, Pence walked back the possibility of military intervention. "You want to take into account that the decision for this trip to Latin America was made back on June 15," said August. "It was not specifically related to the current situation in Venezuela, but it was already developing at that time so Trump knows that he had to have someone there to try to give a positive look to his administration."
But while Pence didn't put his foot down against US military intervention, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos did. "Since friends have to tell each other the truth, I have told Vice President Pence that the possibility of a military intervention shouldn't even be considered, neither in Colombia nor in Latin America," Santos said through a translator. "America is a continent of peace. It is the land of peace. Let us preserve it as such."
"[Santos] said a transition in Venezuelan regime… must be a peaceful transition and must be hopefully a democratic transition… what do the US and their allies mean by peaceful transition?" asked August. "[It] is pretty well known in many circles that the opposition are actually very violent: some people call them the fascist thugs because of their what they are doing."
Host Brian Becker then asked whether or not it was true that there was a schism in the Venezuelan opposition. August replied that there wasn't, as they were all supporters of "fascist thugs."
"All the main personalities in the Venezuelan opposition, whether they have been elected to the national assembly in the last elections or whether they're not in the assembly such as the ones that have recently been released from prison… they all basically support either directly or indirectly the violent actions that are taking place in the streets against the Bolivarian Revolution, against the people," said August.
"I would say I hope I'm not exaggerating but I would say that the media lying with regards to Venezuela is perhaps the most evident, the most aggressive, the most important since the Second World War. But in the same level as what happened in… Iraq with regards to weapons of mass destruction. This is an important step I would say in world history where a big lie is being promoted with regards to Venezuela. It's really important to get an alternative view, what is the cause of the violence? They keep on repeating the same thing, violence in Venezuela, so many people killed, omitting the main thing that they were killed by the opposition."