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Venezuelan president announces military drills in response to Trump warning

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered the armed forces to have military exercises later this month, coming on the heels of President Donald Trump's warning of possible military action.
  • Venezuela's defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, warned Monday that the U.S. was looking to steal Venezuela's oil reserves, according to a report from Reuters.
  • In remarks Monday during his visit to Colombia, Vice President Mike Pence said: "We will continue to stand with free nations across our hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people."
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of a referendum on a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 31, 2017.
Ronaldo Schemidt | AFP | Getty Images
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of a referendum on a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 31, 2017.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered the armed forces of the country to have military exercises later this month, coming on the heels of President Donald Trump warning of possible military action.

"Venezuela will not be threatened," Maduro was quoted as saying, according to the Venezuelan newspaper Panorama.

The paper said Maduro added that Trump "should know that threatening Venezuela is like threatening Latin America."

At the same time, Venezuela's defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, warned Monday that the U.S. was looking to steal Venezuela's oil reserves, according to a report from Reuters.

Venezuela's nationwide military drills are scheduled to take place August 26 to 27 and will include the air force, navy and national militia, according to Panorama.

Late Friday, Trump said he wouldn't rule out military action against Venezuela to solve a worsening crisis in the Latin American nation. Trump said Venezuela's "people are suffering, and they are dying."

"We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary," Trump said Friday.

But Trump wouldn't offer specifics about whether U.S. troops would lead such a military operation, and when asked he responded: "We don't talk about it. But a military option, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue."

In response to Venezuela's planned national exercises, a Pentagon spokesperson Monday said: "We do plan for a wide variety of military options for a range of potential contingencies. But we wouldn't discuss the specifics of operations."

Vice President Mike Pence also weighed in on the Venezuela situation Monday during a visit to Latin America where he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Santos, Pence said, "In Venezuela, we're seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our eyes. The Maduro regime has ignored and undermined its National Assembly. It's stifled the voices of a free press and the masses alike, and imprisoned countless political opponents."

Pence noted that "more than 130 brave Venezuelans" have lost their lives fighting for democracy in the troubled country.

Pence added, "The United States, Colombia, and free nations of Latin America will not be silent. Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Donald Trump has said, 'The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.' We will continue to stand with free nations across our hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people."

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