Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Monday his country will conduct military exercises after President Donald Trump said the U.S. was considering a military option to address the crisis in the South American nation.
"I have given the order to the superior chief of staff of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to start preparations for a civic-military exercise that will be held on August 26 and 27," Maduro said before thousands of supporters in Caracas who were taking part in an "anti-imperialist" march against Trump.
On Friday, Trump said there are “many alternatives” regarding Venezuela and he would not rule out a “military option.”
Speaking to thousands of supporters who had gathered in front of the presidential palace after marching in Caracas, Maduro described Trump’s statement as "rude,” "disproportionate" and "vulgar.”
Earlier Monday, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said he planned to meet with all defense sectors to evaluate the latest threats made against Venezuela’s government.
‘’No nation will take away from us the right to be free, sovereign and independent. We call on all men who love this country to address this unfortunate threat,” he said at a news conference.
The U.S. Defense Department said Monday it had not received any orders from Trump to prepare military action in Venezuela.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking in Cartagena, Colombia, where he began a tour of several Latin American countries to discuss the situation in Venezuela, said he hoped a "peaceable solution" would be found.
"We have many options for Venezuela, but President Trump is confident that working with our allies in Latin America, we will be able to find a peaceful solution to the crisis faced by Venezuelans," he said.
Maduro’s government in early August launched a controversial constituent body with the power to rewrite the constitution.
The election of the new assembly’s delegates took place amid deadly protests and international criticism.
By Nancy Caouette in Mexico City