U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence's trip to South and Central America last week to rally support for putting pressure on Venezuela was overshadowed by widespread protests against the recent U.S. "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
The U.S. imposed fresh economic sanctions on Venezuela in May right after President Nicolas Maduro won a second term. The United States had also called for a suspension of Venezuela from the Organization of American States, but a vote in early June failed to secure enough votes needed for the move.
Last year, President Donald Trump said he would not rule out a "military option" to deal with Venezuela.
On Wednesday, Pence met with some Venezuelan migrants in a shelter in the city of Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon.
"We are with you, we stand with you, and we will keep standing with you until democracy is restored in Venezuela," he said in a speech after the visit, a speech full of attacks on the Venezuelan government.
Maduro soon fired back, saying: "Every time the poisonous viper Mike Pence opens his mouth, I feel stronger."
Pence announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would give nearly $10 million more to support Venezuelan migrants. However, on the eve of the announcement, Brazilian officials released details of a letter to the U.S. ambassador regarding the condition of Brazilian children held in the U.S..
The Brazilian Foreign Ministry described the separation of children from their parents as a "cruel practice".
On Wednesday, Pence warned the Latin Americans against crossing the border into the U.S. illegally. "If you can't come legally, don't come at all," said Pence, who was on his third trip to Latin America, a trip that includes Brazil, Ecuador and Guatemala.
Speaking on Thursday in Guatemala City to the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Pence said that "this exodus has to end".
The three countries, known as the Northern Triangle Region in Central America, are home to many migrants detained and separated in recent weeks in the U.S.. The Trump administration policies led to the separations of more than 2,000 children, triggering widespread protests across the U.S. and other cities in the world.
Many have contrasted Pence's applauding of Brazil and Ecuador for taking in Venezuelan refugees to the U.S. "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza blasted Pence's bid to rally support to isolate his country. He called U.S. efforts hypocritical at a time when the Trump administration has come under sharp criticism for its separation policy on the U.S. southern border.
"It is ironic and hypocritical that U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, whose racist government separates families and cages innocent children, intends to interfere in the affairs of our region," Arreaza said.
However, Eric Farnsworth, vice-president of the Council of the Americas, said: "I'm impressed by the way the vice-president has taken such a personal interest in the region."
Farnsworth noted that Pence continued to bring focus to the issues of Venezuela and migration.
"I would say there are many differences to these two difficult issues," he said.
Public opinion polls have consistently shown a sharp drop in approval rating for U.S. leadership among Latin American countries since Trump took office.
Trump enraged many Latin Americans by calling Mexicans "rapists and murderers" during his presidential campaign and later referred some nations, including Haiti as "shithole" countries.
"For Latin American leaders concerned with their own standing, Trump's policies and pronouncements risk making good relations with Washington a liability," Frida Ghitis, a commentator for World Politics Review, wrote about Pence's trip on the Review's website.