WASHINGTON - Vice President Mike Pence suggested Tuesday that leftist groups financed by Venezuela might be behind the caravan of Central American migrants headed toward the U.S. border.
Speaking at a forum hosted by The Washington Post, Pence said he had been in contact with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala about the unfolding situation.
He said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told him the caravan “was organized by leftist groups in Honduras financed by Venezuela and sent north to challenge our sovereignty and challenge our border.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board and the conservative Heritage Foundation also have highlighted reports that the caravan was organized by a former Honduran lawmaker, Bartolo Fuentes, of the leftist Libre party.
Fuentes was deported from Guatemala on Friday after being arrested for entering the country illegally with Honduran migrants who had trekked from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The Honduran newspaper La Tribuna quoted Fuentes on Oct. 16 as acknowledging that he and other Libre members organized the caravan through Facebook.
Libre was founded by a coalition of leftist groups led by Manuel Zelaya, a former Honduran president and ally of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Zelaya was ousted by the military in 2009.
Pence said the United States was working closely with Mexico to keep the caravan, estimated to have grown to 7,000 people, from crossing the border.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to prevent this caravan from coming north and violating our border,” he said.