by Xinhua writer Liu Chen
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday during his Latin American tour that the United States would bring economic and diplomatic power to bear over the ongoing Venezuelan crisis, a more conciliatory tone than President Donald Trump's surprising tough words last week.
With "military option" still not ruled out in the crisis-hit country, the United States' stance has sparked criticism around the region while its potential economic sanctions were seen as possibly having limited effect.
PEACEFUL SOLUTION OR MILITARY ACTION
While visiting the Colombian city of Cartagena, Pence said that a "failed" Venezuela would threaten Americans and the United States would bring all economic and diplomatic power to bear to solve the crisis.
"A failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemisphere and the people of the United States of America," Pence told reporters.
One day earlier, Pence, kicking off his week-long Latin American tour in Colombia, said that the United States still preferred a "peaceful" solution over the Venezuelan issue.
Meanwhile, the U.S. vice president stood by Trump's strong warnings that military action was not ruled out.
On Friday, Trump said that military operation was "something we could pursue," a claim that was seen as a sudden escalation of Washington's response to Venezuela's crisis.
Pence's four-state tour, covering Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama, came as the United States tried to rally the region against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's attempts to consolidate his power.
However, with military option not ruled out by the Trump administration, Pence's tour has been shadowed by opposing voices from Latin American countries.
Peru has voiced its rejection of any kind of threats or use of force unauthorized by the United Nations and called for dialogues among related parties.
"All foreign or domestic threats to resort to force undermine the goal of reinstating democratic governance in Venezuela, as well as the principles enshrined in the UN charter," Peru's Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said in a statement on Saturday.
Colombia also firmly rejected the possibility of any military intervention, ratifying its respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela and calling for a negotiated solution to its neighbor's crisis.
A military intervention "shouldn't even be considered," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during the joint press conference with Pence on Sunday.
What Pence needed to do was to assure its regional allies that the United States respected their diplomatic efforts, David Smilde, a Venezuela expert at Tulane University, told reporters.
The United States should let their allies know that they "will not engage in unilateral measures that are guaranteed to be counterproductive," Smilde added.
MORE SANCTIONS AHEAD?
During his stay in Colombia, Pence has also discussed possible further sanctions against Venezuela, which was undergoing unrest and political turmoil.
"President Santos and I discussed in some detail additional measures that could be taken to further pressure the regime in Venezuela economically," Pence told reporters in Cartagena on Sunday.
The United States was "looking at a full range of additional economic sanctions," Pence said.
Tensions have been escalating between Washington and Caracas over Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) which was formed after an election on July 30.
After the election, the United States slapped a string of sanctions on Venezuelan individuals involved in the creation of the ANC, including Maduro.
"Expanding individual sanctions will do little to change anything on the ground," said Shannon K. O'Neil, senior fellow at Council on Foreign Relations, in an article published on CNN website.
Meanwhile, O'Neil also said that Sanctions were just "one tool," which would not work in a diplomatic vacuum.
Over the last 7 years, the United States have sanctioned over two dozen nations, while "none of those sanctions have led to swift political change," she added.