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What can Trump do about Venezuela?

August 14, 2017

"The United States has many options" for dealing with Venezuela, Vice President Mike Pence said Monday in Colombia.

But what are those options? And why does the country matter to the US anyway?

Those questions are in the air because President Donald Trump suggested Friday that he is considering military options for dealing with the crisis in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has slowly crushed democracy and so badly mismanaged the economy that food shortages have led to widespread malnutrition. Analysts expect the country will soon default on loans; many say the state is on the brink of failure...

Venezuela is the third largest oil exporter to the US after Canada and Saudi Arabia and it controls the world's largest proven reserves of oil. While tankers from Venezuela bring in less than 10% of total US oil imports, disruption to those shipments would have ripple effects.

It could mean potentially higher gas prices for US consumers, and it would almost certainly disrupt the oil refineries that handle Venezuelan crude in states such as Louisiana and Texas, potentially leading to lost jobs in those areas. "It's a sensitive issue for legislators" from those states, said Eric Farnsworth, vice president at the Council of the Americas...

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