Trump confirms use of US military in Venezuela among ‘options’ on table
3 Feb, 2019
The option of sending the US military to Venezuela is on the table, while talking to President Nicolas Maduro is not, President Donald Trump said in an interview on Sunday.
While talking to CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump would not expand on the prospects of military involvement in the crisis in the Latin America country besides replying that “it’s an option.”
He also confirmed that he refused to talk to President Maduro when he suggested a meeting a few months ago. According to Trump, there is no point in talking to Venezuela’s elected president because “we’re very far along in the process” and there are “horrible things happening” in the country, such as “poverty,” “anguish,” and “crime.”
“You have a young and energetic gentleman but you have other people within that same group that have been very, very – if you talk about democracy – it’s really democracy in action,” Trump said.
Washington jumped in with its support of Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, who declared himself “interim president” almost two weeks ago. While US allies on the continent and in Europe have backed Guaido, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, and a number of other countries urged dialogue and little international involvement in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the political crisis in the country was caused by a “destructive external interference that grossly violates the most basic norms of the international law.”
Speculation about the US sending troops to deal with the situation in Venezuela peaked after US National Security Advisor John Bolton was photographed holding a yellow legal notebook during a press briefing that said “5,000 troops to Colombia.” The White House would not expand on the matter, while Bogota said it had no clue what it meant and that it would act only “politically and diplomatically” with its neighbor. US spy planes, however, were noticed flying over Colombia last week.
Besides supporting Guaido in the international arena, the US also promised $20 million in humanitarian aid to Guaido’s fledgling government, and gave the opposition leader access to Venezuelan assets held in US banks. Bolton also said that Maduro’s government should get out of the way as the US delivers this aid. Washington slapped sanctions on the state oil company. Venezuela, which saw hyperinflation last year, is dependent on oil revenues, and the collapse of the price of oil along with the government’s mismanagement put the country in a dire financial situation with over 3 million people fleeing.
Any military action against Caracas will have a destructive impact not only on Venezuela itself, but the whole region, former UN Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas believes.
“I’m concerned, that if there’s an attack – from Colombia and Brazil, coordinated and with the logistical or other support from Washington – that there will be a civil war and tens of thousands of deaths,” de Zayas told RT, adding that as “the United States is threatening with the use of force,” which is illegal under international law, Washington’s behavior should be immediately addressed by top UN officials.
At the same time, the US is seemingly aiming at fueling dissent within the country – and its military in particular – hoping it will drift under the banner of the self-proclaimed “president.”
“I think that the United States is betting that the military will eventually switch over to Guaido, that they will not remain loyal to Maduro. That, of course, would be a massive defeat for the principle of national sovereignty, for the principle of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela, but it would avoid, of course, the shedding of blood,” de Zayas said.