Self-declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido has refused to rule out accepting United States military support amid the escalating political crisis, saying that the Venezuelan people want to end President Nicolas Maduro's dictatorship with "whatever pressure is necessary".
Pence said they were committed to the people of Venezuela before stressing that "Nicolas Maduro must go" for the people to have their rights. The news comes a day before nationwide street protests called to escalate pressure on the socialist leader to step down.
He retains support from powerful allies, including Russian Federation and China, but is growing increasingly isolated as more nations back Guaido.
Washington has imposed sweeping sanctions on state-owned oil firm PDVSA in the toughest financial challenge yet to Maduro, as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump openly seeks to push him from power.
Guaido declared last week that he's interim president of Venezuela and vowed to topple Maduro's administration.
Asked whether he has had any talks with Maduro, Guaido said simply: "No". Mexico and Uruguay have maintained their recognition of Maduro and have offered to host worldwide talks in hopes of resolving the dispute peacefully.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in in Caracas, Feb. 1, 2019.
"We're in a historic battle", Maduro told several hundred troops standing in formation around armoured vehicles.
And last week, the Bank of England denied Maduro officials' request to withdraw US$1.2 billion of gold stored there after top USA officials, including Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, lobbied their United Kingdom counterparts to cut off the regime from its overseas holdings. He said they had with them two AK-47 rifles, two satellite phones and 500 bracelets bearing the symbol of Operation Consti-tution, a political group dedicated to toppling Maduro.
Guaido appeared at his building with his wife and daughter, saying, "They will not intimidate this family".
Under a future government, PDVSA would remain in state hands, Guaido said, adding the top priority would be on recovering production in the devastated oil sector.
Most Latin American countries have done so as well, while European governments are also throwing their support behind Guaido, albeit more cautiously.
Maduro's adversaries say he has run roughshod over democratic institutions, including the opposition-run congress, and destroyed the once-buoyant economy through a corruption-riddled exchange control system and arbitrary nationalizations.
The last 10 days of political upheaval have exacerbated the general disarray in Venezuela, which has the world's largest proven oil reserves but has suffered an economic meltdown marked by hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities.