LIMA, Peru – For the heads of state mingling in the assembly halls, the leader who was not invited was the biggest challenge.
President Nicolás Maduro from Venezuela was the outcast at the Summit of America in Lima, Peru, where leaders are negotiating trade agreements and patching political fences.
Unwelcome at this meeting, Mr. Maduro's isolation only grew as he ruled the country with an increasingly authoritarian hand and the worst prevails of economic crisis in generations, with Venezuela's woes ranging from food shortages to hyperinflation.
For all leaders here, the threat of Venezuela is clear and urgent for many.
Impoverished Venezuelans have crossed the borders of Colombia and Brazil, seeking food and medicine, with 500,000 arriving in Colombia alone. Despite all these problems, Mr Maduro wants to be re-elected in May in an election in which his most popular challengers are banned, imprisoned or committing to boycott.
Many fear that the election represents a dangerous precedent.
We will not acknowledge the results of an election aimed at making up a dictatorship, "said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during the main session on Saturday.
However, it is not an easy task, a pariah like Lord The shadow of US military invasions and putschists in the twentieth century conceded to almost all states in the region that intervening in the internal affairs of other countries was not the way to solve problems.
And so the leaders got on leaving the summit faced with a difficult question: what could be done against Venezuela?
The disinvasion of its president was a step – Peru, which said that it and a dozen other countries believed that democracy would dissolve there, Reverted her invitation, Mr Maduro vowed to bring the event down anyway – "By air, to L ore or to the sea, "he said, but ultimately decided not to attend.
Other countries have taken steps to further isolate Venezuela.
Late March Panama has put Mr. Maduro and other government officials on a list of potential money launderers; In doing so, she joined the United States and Canada, both of which have imposed targeted sanctions. Most major countries in the region have refused to recognize the Constituent Assembly, a new body that Mr. Maduro created last year to replace the National Assembly controlled by his opposition.
"The region's response has been" It was unprecedented, "said David Smilde, a professor of sociology at Tulane University and an analyst at the Washington office for Latin America, a human rights group.
But, he added," external pressure is on only so far – you must have a viable opposition from within.
The hopes of opposition politicians peaked last year, when hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans poured into the streets to demand food and fresh elections, and the protests lasted for months, despite a deadly crackdown by the government when Mr. Maduro finally prevailed, and when the protests were over, the opposition was divided, and the most pressing decision was the presidential election on May 20, when the coalition of opposition parties stood for However, even the boycott provoked differences of opinion, with some opposition politicians ruling anyway, including Henri Falcón, former state governor in the party of Mr. Maduro, who is now challenging the president, though his candidacy looks like a long shot becomes.
"It gi There are no conditions for transparent elections, "said Margarita López Maya, a retired political scientist who taught at the Central University of Venezuela. "Maduro will get the numbers he chooses on election day."
Leaders of the region have observed the role that the United States will play in the crisis.
Last year, President Trump said he could beat the military against Mr Maduro. Although considered an empty threat, it was the kind of rhetoric that allowed Mr. Maduro to characterize his opponents as American chess pieces.
Vice President Mike Pence, who traveled to the meeting after Mr. Trump abruptly headed the military operation in Syria, told reporters on Saturday that the upcoming Venezuelan elections were a "semblance".
"The world is not cheated," said Mr. Pence, who had previously announced a new round of American aid, the refugee crisis and promised tougher sanctions against the Maduro government. "Democracy has collapsed, the dictatorship has arisen."
During his summit speech at the summit, Mr. Pence called on nations across the region to join forces with the United States to further isolate Mr. Maduro. "Under the Maduro regime, Venezuela is essentially a failed state," Mr. Pence told the audience.
On Friday, Mr Pence met with exiled Venezuelan opposition leaders and said, "We will continue to do everything in our power to provide food and support to those who have fled this tyranny."
Antonio Ledezma, the former Mayor of Caracas, now living in exile in Spain, passionately asked Pence to exert pressure on the Maduro government, and "not only humanitarian aid but also humanitarian intervention"
He argued that additional sanctions on wealth to target the Maduro government, including measures to "grab aircraft, yachts, and villas."
Pence's presence as an attempt of foreign interference in the region.
"The main threat to peace, Mother Earth and multilateralism is the United States, and I'm not afraid to say so much," said President Evo Morales of Bolivia, a leftist who is a staunch supporter of the Maduro government. "These are not times for invasions, they are times of integration."
Andrea Zarate contributed contributions from Lima, Peru