VP Pence says US won't stand by as Venezuela 'crumbles'
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CARTAGENA, Colombia — Seeking to highlight the growing plight in Venezuela,
Pence visited the Calvary Chapel in Cartagena, where met with faith leaders and Venezuelan families before planning to depart to Buenos Aires, Argentina. His wife, Karen Pence, helped to lead a prayer circle, where she prayed for "comfort to the Venezuelan refugees."
He said he heard "heartbreaking" stories of their struggle for food.
"President Trump's made it very clear we will not stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship," Pence said, arguing that "a failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemispheres and the people of the United States."
Pence is trying to rally the region against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's attempts to consolidate power. Pence on Sunday denounced Maduro's tactics and said the U.S. will not stand by as Venezuela "crumbles."
Venezuelan officials have been firing back in a series of statements, with Information Minister Ernest Villegas denouncing U.S. meddling in Venezuela's affairs as hypocritical on Twitter Monday.
"The US and its satellite in Bogota are trying to give classes in democracy to Venezuela while it provides cover for neo-Nazis in its own territory," Villegas wrote, linking to photos of the recent deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia involving far-right groups.
Asked whether the U.S. would commit additional financial aid for those migrating from Venezuela, Pence said only that the U.S. "has a long and storied history of generosity with regard to refugees populations and it's happening here in Colombia."
The Trump administration has pushed to reduce the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. as well as money spent on foreign aid.
Reach Jill Colvin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/colvinj