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Pence vows US will not allow 'collapse of Venezuela'

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US Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday vowed the US would not allow "the collapse of Venezuela," saying such an event would "endanger" countries in the wider region.

[MIAMI] US Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday vowed the US would not allow "the collapse of Venezuela," saying such an event would "endanger" countries in the wider region.

"The collapse of Venezuela will endanger all who call the Western Hemisphere home," Mr Pence said in remarks delivered before some 600 people at a Catholic church in Doral, the heart of Miami's Venezuelan community.

"We cannot and will not let that happen," he said, adding that "working with our allies in the Latin American region, the US will confront and overcome all who dare to threaten our wellbeing."

He emphasised that Venezuela's "collapse" would "drive more illegal drug trafficking with its murderous consequences" - a notion his boss President Donald Trump has also pushed.

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The vice-president gave his speech just back from his tour last week of Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama. Venezuela was among the key issues discussed.

The country has spiraled into political and economic chaos, threatening regional stability. Clashes between protestors and police this year have left 125 people dead, according to prosecutors.

In Miami, Mr Pence did not raise the specter of military action, which Mr Trump has evoked.

Mr Pence insisted that the US would not make decisions unilaterally: "America first does not mean America alone."

US Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Governor Rick Scott also spoke, reiterating their pledge to ban companies in the southeastern state from doing business with Venezuelan firms.

According to 2015 census data, some 273,000 Venezuelans live in the United States - nearly half of them in Florida, and most in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

AFP