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Interview: Trump's threat to Venezuela is aggression to Latin America, says analyst

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Venezuela lingers near civil war

Peru under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had taken the toughest stance yet toward Venezuela's socialist government, and has openly called Maduro a "dictator".

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Nearly since Maduro took office in 2013, he has been warning of USA military designs on Venezuela, home to the world's largest oil reserves.

The dramatic escalation in rhetoric seemed to upend carefully crafted USA policy that has stressed working with regional partners to increase pressure on Maduro. "It is not the first time that Trump has acted like this towards Venezuela, which has been besieged for a long time", said Cristobal Alva, a Venezuelan poet from Guatire in the northern state of Miranda.

And on Friday, the government's new Constituent Assembly was moving ahead to establish a so-called truth commission, which would serve as a new tribunal to investigate crimes.

"Despite the current difficulties of reaching a peaceful and negotiated solution, we still believe that is the right path to find long-term solutions for the people of Venezuela", the ministry said. "Latin American states will not want to be seen as endorsing USA military intervention". Energy sector sanctions, which could cripple Venezuela's already ailing economy, are still being considered, U.S. officials said.

A week ago, Trump's top national security adviser H. R. McMaster said in a TV show that he did not see a military intervention from any outside source as likely.

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"We want to express gratitude for all the expressions ofsolidarity and rejection of the use of force from governments around the world, including Latin America", said Arreaza, in a short speech on Saturday. "This is the Yankees doing this".

"The president is sending the vice president to South and Central America to deliver a very clear message both to our partners in the region and to the Maduro regime".

Pence arrives in Colombia on Sunday to begin his Latin America tour, during which discussions on how to deal with Venezuela were expected to feature prominently.

The 545-member assembly, which has the rights to amend the constitution and reorganize the government, "aims to fix the malfunction" plaguing the country's governing system, according to Delcy Rodriguez, the recently elected president of the new legislative body. The moves have sparked violent protests.

"It's not going to have any impact other than the government using it to further unify its people and attack the opposition", the 44-year-old added. His schedule includes stops in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Panama City.

The timing of Trump's remarks could not be worse, coming on the eve of a four-nation Latin America trip by Vice President Mike Pence meant to showcase how Washington and regional partners can work together to promote democracy in the hemisphere.

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