DORAL, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence's visit in South Florida to meet with Venezuelan exiles. (all times local):
Vice President Mike Pence addressed a sympathetic crowd of Venezuelans in South Florida and pledged the U.S. will use its economic and diplomatic power to push for free elections.
Pence spoke at a church in the city of Doral, the exile enclave, to a crowd of about 300 on Wednesday. The crowd occasionally shouted "freedom, freedom" and cheered every time the vice president spoke of President Donald Trump's interest in Venezuela.
Calling President Nicolas Maduro's government, a "dictatorship," Pence threatened there were more sanctions to come against the South American country.
Pence last week visited Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama in an attempt to rally the region against Venezuela. On Wednesday he said, "We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles."
Vice President Mike Pence has met with 15 Venezuelan exiles in South Florida who told him more help is needed to restore democracy in the socialist regime.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart joined Pence in listening to testimonies of established leaders of the Venezuelan diaspora and recently exiles politicians and judges.
Ramon Muchacho was the mayor of the municipality of Chacao since 2013 but fled in July saying he was being persecuted by the government. He told Pence that Venezuela is a dictatorship. "There is no way to get out of it by democratic means," Muchacho said, pleading for more help from Latin America, the U.S. and Europe.
Two other mayors asked for the U.S. government to impose more sanctions.
Vice President Mike Pence is visiting the Venezuelan diaspora in South Florida after traveling to Latin America to win over allies unnerved by a possible U.S. military intervention in the socialist nation.
Pence met Wednesday with Venezuelan community leaders and activists who say President Nicolas Maduro's increasingly authoritarian regime is to blame for the worsening conditions.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio will also join Pence in Doral, the exile enclave.
President Donald Trump's explosive remarks earlier this month that he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela came two days before Pence had previously scheduled his Latin America tour.
The vice president traveled to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama to rally friends in the hemisphere, but switched to damage control in a region scarred by past U.S. invasions.