US President Donald Trump on Thursday called the situation in Venezuela a "disgrace to humanity" and said the deadly political crisis was possibly the worst of its kind in "decades."
"We haven't really seen a problem like that... in decades, in terms of the kind of violence that we're witnessing," Trump told a joint press conference with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
"People don't have enough to eat. People have no food. There's great violence. And we will do whatever is necessary, and we will work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing that. (...) what is happening is really a disgrace to humanity."
Trump's comments came one day after the Venezuelan government announced it was sending more than 2,500 troops to a trouble-hit region on the border with Colombia to try to quell weeks of violence that have claimed 43 lives nationwide.
Despite its vast oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies, something the centre-right opposition blames on mismanagement and corruption in the Socialist government.
"When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder why is that happening, how is that possible?" said Trump.
"It has been unbelievably poorly run for a long period of time, and hopefully that will change and they could use those assets for the good and to take care of their people," he said.
Venezuela Supreme Court judges hit with US sanctions
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the chief judge and seven other members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court as punishment for annulling the opposition-led Congress earlier this year, US officials said.
The new sanctions package was aimed at stepping up pressure on the leftist government of President Maduro and his loyalists amid growing concern over a crackdown on street protests and his efforts to consolidate his rule over the South American oil-producing country.
The move provoked condemnation from Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.
"It's outrageous and unacceptable for the United States to impose sanctions on a sovereign and independent nation in violation of Venezuelan and international laws," she said on Twitter.