Pence slams Venezuela government, drawing rebuke from Maduro

Article originally appeared in ReutersU.S. Vice President Mike Pence held up Venezuela on Thursday as a prime example of what happens when democracy is undermined and urged Latin American leaders to condemn its government, in comments that Venezuela’s president called nauseating.

Already suffering a severe economic crisis, Venezuela, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has recently been convulsed by clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters.

“We need only look to the nation of Venezuela to see what happens when democracy is undermined,” Pence told the gathering of leaders in Miami. “That once-rich nation’s collapse into authoritarianism has pushed it into poverty and caused untold suffering for the Venezuelan people.”

Stepping up Washington’s war of words with Caracas, Pence added: “We must all of us raise our voices to condemn the Venezuelan government for its abuse of power and its abuse of its own people, and we must do it now.” …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

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