VENEZUELA has responded to US President Donald Trump’s threats of a military action, amid deepening civil unrest in the South American country, saying that the nation will defend itself against “foreign intervention.”

Trump told reporters: “We have many options for Venezuela, and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. This is our neighbour, we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away, and Venezuela is not far away. We have many options for Venezuela and that includes a military option.”

The comments come amid Venezuela’s deepening civil unrest. Food shortages, rising unemployment and violent protests dominate life in the Latin American country. Trump referred to the people’s “suffering” as justification for the proposed military intervention.

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The US has already imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan government figures, including President Nicolas Maduro. Powers in the region are claiming that the country has fallen in to dictatorship.

General Padrino Lopez, the defence minister, vowed that the army would fight against any foreign intervention. He said: "As a soldier, along with the armed forces, we are in the first line to defend the interests and the sovereignty of our beloved Venezuela,"

He described the threat as "an act of madness, of supreme extremism".