The uncomfortable but inevitable question that dogged Vice President Mike Pence everywhere he went in Latin America last week will trail him to Miami on Wednesday: Is President Donald Trump really considering potential military action in Venezuela?
Pence tried over and over again to say no — without actually uttering the word or outright contradicting Trump — during his recent swing through Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama, where regional allies publicly rebuked the notion of any U.S. intervention.
The vice president's cleanup tour will conclude Wednesday in Doral, home to the largest Venezuelan immigrant community in the U.S. In private meetings with local Venezuelans, and in remarks at a neighborhood church, Pence is expected to say the White House remains committed to punishing President Nicolás Maduro's government for systematically dismantling the South American country's democracy.
But exactly what the punishment from the U.S. might entail remains unclear, a month after Trump promised "strong and swift economic actions."
Behind the scenes, the Trump administration has continued to debate its best move, with the eager-to-dialogue State Department clashing with the more-hawkish White House and National Security Council. But matters became much more complicated on Aug. 11, when Trump made his casual remark about a possibly "military option" against Maduro. The comment divided regional allies who had at long last come around to the U.S. position that Venezuela had become a dictatorship.