Vice President Mike Pence tours Navy hospital ship in Miami heading to Latin America

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jun 18, 2019

MIAMI (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence has toured a U.S. Navy hospital ship launching a five-month medical assistance mission to Latin American countries struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of migrants from crisis-wracked Venezuela.

The ship departing Miami on Tuesday will aim to help Venezuelans in countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. It will also make stops in Haiti, Jamaica and several other Caribbean nations.

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Pence criticized embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and said the Trump administration and its regional partners will continue to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing the country's political and economic crisis.

The United Nations says the exodus of Venezuelans in recent years is the largest in Latin American history. Their number is expected to reach 5.3 million by the end of 2019.