Pence tells cheering Venezuelan exiles in Miami: "This is the time for action" against Maduro

By Fin Gomez

/ CBS News

Massive demonstration planned in Venezuela

In an area of greater Miami known as "Doral-zuela" due to its vibrant Venezuelan community, Vice President Mike Pence rallied support Friday for opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The United States has recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president in Venezuela over the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro that has been in power for two decades.

"Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no claim to power," Pence said about the head of the South American government who has been at the center of the recent political and economic maelstrom. "And Nicolas Maduro must go."

Pence told the room filled with Venezeulan exiles that President Trump "asked me to be here to show our unwavering commitment to the good people of Venezuela. For too long the people of Venezuela have suffered under the heavy hand of oppression but now there is hope. There is hope in Venezuela."

A few people in the crowd broke out in impatient applause, but then eased up to let Pence continue.

"As President Trump said just last week: The fight for freedom has begun," Pence said then abruptly had stopped because the room interrupted him with applause and exuberant cheers.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 01, 2019 in Doral, Florida. / Getty Images

"Let's be clear," Pence said. "This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action. And the time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all."

Pence reiterated comments made Mr. Trump and other administration representatives that the United States is willing to move beyond just diplomatic avenues if Maduro does not step down.

"The United States will continue to assert all diplomatic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy," Pence said, then paused to say his next words slowly, and bluntly. "But those looking on should know this: All options are on the table."

"And Nicolas Maduro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States," Pence added sternly.

Ahead of his remarks, Pence held a roundtable listening session with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders including families, political prisoners and former elected officials who were forced to flee their country due to political persecution, according to CBS Miami.

Earlier in the week, Maduro threatened the Unites States government with another "Vietnam" if they decided to physically intervene into Venezuela.

Vice President Pence Meets With Venezuelan Exiles And Community Leaders In Miami
People listen as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 01, 2019 in Doral, Florida. / Getty Images

"The U.S. intends to invade us, they will have a Vietnam worse than they can imagine" Maduro said in an interview with a Russian news agency.

Following Pence's speech, Venezuelan-state run television, Tele Sur, showed Maduro marching with a couple thousand members of the Venezuelan military on Friday.

Maduro, wearing in a military hat, said he was firmly in control of the Venezuelan armed forces as commander in chief.

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

First published on February 1, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Vice President Pence Meets With Venezuelan Exiles And Community Leaders In Miami Vice President Pence Meets With Venezuelan Exiles And Community Leaders In Miami

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