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Venezuela - Whether - To Be Or Not To Be

Speaking after talks at his New Jersey golf club with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump told reporters, "We have many options for Venezuela and by the way I'm not going to rule out military options." Trump said a military option is “certainly something that we could pursue.” He said the people in Venezuela are “suffering and they are dying.” Trump said “We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away”.

Trump's comment marked a serious escalation in rhetoric for the US, which has up until now stressed a regional approach that encourages Latin American allies to escalate pressure on the Maduro regime. Hours before Trump's comments, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity stressed that approach while briefing reporters on Vice President Mike Pence's upcoming trip to the region.

Shortly after Donald Trump said a military option was not being ruled out for Venezuela, the White House issued a statement saying it had rejected a request from his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro to have a telephone conversation with him. It is not clear if Maduro asked for the call before or after Trump's remarks.

The Pentagon said the U.S. military was ready to support efforts to protect U.S. citizens and America’s national interests abroad. Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said it is the job of the Defense Department to conduct contingency planning for possible military actions all around the world and to offer those options to the president.

Rather than send in the Marines, national security adviser McMaster said it was important for the US and its neighbors to speak with a single voice in defense of Venezuela's democracy. "It's important for us to place responsibility for this catastrophe on Maduro's shoulders. He is the one who has caused it, and he's the one who's perpetuating it," he said.

Hua Chunying, China's Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry, stated 14 August 2017 that the government was cognizant of current affairs taking place throughout Latin America and said, "China maintains its principle: non-interference in the internal affairs of states. We believe that we must solve the problems based on respecting the sovereign equality of all states, not intervening in the internal affairs of nations."

The German government also sharply criticized Washington's belligerent stance toward Venezuela in response to Trump's comments. Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Germany's executive branch, stated that Chancellor Angela Merkel desires a “peaceful solution” to Venezuela's crisis “through diplomacy.”

Uruguay decried the U.S. government's warmongering rhetoric. While speaking to the press, Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez said that his government “emphatically and sharply” rejects Trump's opinion of a military intervention in Venezuela. “Venezuela's problems must be resolved by the Venezuelan people, without foreign intervention, therefore, we emphatically and sharply reject the U.S. President's opinions.”

Ecuador says it "reminds the international community that the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace implies the commitment of all nations to preserve our common territory free of threats or military interventions of any kind. In this context, it expresses its solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and rejects any threat of possible military intrusion into its territory. Ecuador reiterates the call for dialogue as the only way to solve the situation of the brother Venezuelan people."

Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes announced that his nation does not support military intervention in Venezuela. "The time for the big stick has passed," he said. "Our path is that of diplomacy, politics and negotiation."

Noam Chomsky said the remarks were "shocking and dangerous." Chomsky believes Trump maybe "painting himself into a corner. It is worth remembering that he is probably following his usual practice of speaking to his base, and trying to ensure that he remains in the limelight, not caring much about real world consequences (except to his pocketbook and image). The best hope is that some of the generals around him, who presumably understand the consequences, will manage to control him."

Venezuela Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino told state television the U.S. president's comments were "an act of craziness." Padrino, a close ally of Maduro, said, "With this extremist elite that's in charge in the US, who knows what will happen to the world?"

Delcy Rodriguez, president of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, ANC, announced 12 August 2017 that the political body will work alongside Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the face of the military threat posed by Trump. Rodriguez said “the National Constituent Assembly will act to accompany the head of state, Maduro, in the defense of our beloved Venezuela”.

The ex-foreign minister also rejected the “cowardly, insolent and vile threats of the president of the United States against the sacred sovereignty of Venezuela.” She concluded that “offenses and aggressions against the highest levels of government will be repudiated by the anti-imperialist people of Venezuela."

Echoing Rodriguez’s claims, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez called the U.S. president's threat “an act of madness” and “extremism” Lopez added “There is an extremist elite that rules the United States”. Likewise, Venezuelan Minister for Communication and Information Ernesto Villegas labeled Trump’s remarks “the most serious and insolent threat ever made against Bolivar’s homeland.”

A military intervention in Venezuela was discussed at a private roundtable hosted on 10 April by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Straightforwardly named "Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela," the off-the-record meeting involved some 40 figures, including former State Department, National Intelligence Council, and National Security Council officials, as well as Admiral Kurt Tidd who recently left the post of the US SOUTHCOM commander. Several senior officials from Colombian and Brazilian embassies as well as representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido also participated in the meeting.

The very existence of a meeting named like this suggests Trump administration considers military operation more seriously than before, fuelled by frustration that "every other weapon in its arsenal has failed" to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. One of the attendees, Sarah Baumunk, a research associate at the CSIS's Americas Program, she confirmed military options were discussed. ?"We talked about … military options in Venezuela. That was earlier this week though," she said. However, when pressed for more details, she refused to talk. "I'm sorry I don't feel comfortable answering these questions," she said. Another attendee, Santiago Herdoiza, a research associate at Hills&Company strategy and trade consulting agency, also slipped out that the meeting took place. "I'm sorry, that was a closed meeting. Good evening," Herdoiza said when contacted by phone.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said 01 May 2019 that military action is on the table in Venezuela, he told FOX Business. “The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent—military action is possible—if that’s what’s required—that’s what the United States will do,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo Opens a New Window. "We are trying to do everything we can to avoid violence… We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government there where Maduro leaves and a new election is held.”

But US Southern Command chief Navy Adm. Craig Faller told the House Armed Services Committee "Our leadership's been clear ... It has to be, should be, a democratic transition." The military is preparing for non-combat options, he said, amid the widespread civil unrest in the oil-rich Latin American nation. “Our leadership has been very clear that all options are on the table, although a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela is preferred,” Army Col. Amanda Azubuike said in an emailed statement. “At the same time, Adm. Faller has said on numerous occasions we remain ready ‘on the balls of our feet’ should we get the call.”

The opposition leader said there was "no turning back" in his efforts to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro. Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton described the unfolding drama as "a very serious situation ... a very delicate moment." He called on top Venezuelan officials, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, to convince military commanders to defect to Guaido. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad. The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated."

John Bolton told Rep, Dick Durbin that today was a day that could be historic, a day of reckoning. Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, who had been under house arrest, were both appealing directly to the military leaders in Venezuela, asking those leaders to join their effort to establish a legitimate government in Venezuela and to have a free and fair election. We didn't know what was in store. There were no predictions as to who would prevail in this, and there was a great deal of danger associated with Guaido's position.

The government's communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said on Twitter, "We are currently facing and deactivating a small group of treacherous military personnel who took positions" near a military base "to promote a coup d'etat. We call on the people to remain on maximum alert to -- with our glorious National Bolivarian Armed Forces -- defeat the attempted coup and preserve peace."

Pompeo, Bolton and acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan met at the Pentagon on 03 May 2019 to discuss military options in Venezuela, with Shanahan reiterating the White House's oft-repeated claim that all options remained "on the table" in resolving the Venezuelan crisis and dismissing concerns about a lack of good intelligence on the Venezuelan country.

Moscow dismissed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "surreal" claims about "Russian interference" in the Latin America, saying that it was Russia's "principled position" not to interfere in other nations' affairs. President Donald Trump appeared to contradict his own senior officials' claims about Russian "involvement" in Venezuela on Friday following his telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We talked about many things. Venezuela was one of the topics. And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way," Trump said, speaking to reporters 03 May 2019.

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Page last modified: 08-05-2019 18:04:12 ZULU