U.S. President Donald Trump says a military option against Venezuela is on the table, describing the situation there as a “dangerous mess.”
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” Trump told reporters at his golf resort in New Jersey.
Trump said he’s “not going to rule out” a military option and added it’s “certainly something that we could pursue.” He said the people in Venezuela are “suffering and they are dying.”
“We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away,” he said.
Late Friday, however, Venezuela Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino told state television the U.S. president’s comments were “an act of craziness.”
Trump said the crisis in Venezuela was one of the topics discussed during talks Friday in New Jersey with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
WATCH: Trump Says He Is Considering Military Action in Venezuela
Venezuela’s economy has been troubled since oil prices collapsed in 2014, creating severe shortages of consumer goods — including medication — and spurring inflation to triple-digit levels.
Trump’s comments come two days after his administration imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting members of the new all-powerful legislative body.
The Trump administration has been critical of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s moves to consolidate power, describing him as a “dictator.” It has also called the recent election in Venezuela of a new constituent assembly as “illegitimate.”
In imposing the sanctions, the administration also cited human rights violations and the undermining of the country’s democracy as the political and financial crisis escalates.
Credit Suisse bank banned the trading and use of Venezuelan bonds Thursday, citing “recent developments and the political climate” in the country.
Venezuela is facing mounting international criticism over Maduro’s crackdown on opponents and moves to consolidate power, including the selection of the all-powerful assembly.
Near-daily protests in the country have led to the deaths of more than 120 people.