HAVANA TIMES – As if the threat of a war with North Korea isn’t enough, US President Trump, said on Friday that he is not discarding the “military option” against the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, reported dpa news.
“I will not rule out the military option,” he told reporters in New Jersey, where he is spending his long summer vacation.
“We have many options for Venezuela. It’s our neighbor. We have troops all over the world, in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not far away and people are suffering and dying.
We have many options, including a possible military option if necessary,” he insisted. However, he did not mention other options.
In his remarks to the press Trump was accompanied by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, with whom he held a meeting.
Trump’s words come amid his rhetorical tit-for-tat with North Korea, which has taken on the threat of armed conflict, and a few hours after his Vice President, Mike Pence, begins his first tour of Latin America, which will take him to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama.
Venezuela was already emerging as the great regional theme of the vice president on his trip and now he will see how the leaders of those four countries react to Trump’s declarations, 28 years after the last US military invasion of Latin America. It was the so-called Operation Just Cause, in 1989, with which the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was expelled.
Initial reaction from Chile and Colombia and numerous other countries has been negative on the threat of a US attack on Caracas.
The US administration has been increasing pressure on Maduro in recent weeks, but especially since the election of the Constituent Assembly, imposing more individual sanctions on government officials, who have included the Venezuelan president himself.
However the effect of those sanctions, including the freezing of bank accounts in the US, may have no effect if the officials do not have properties and funds in the US.
But to this day no representative of the administration had publicly spoken of a military option; the threats had always been confined to political and economic options.
The red line for the United States has been the election of the Constituent Assembly, last July 30.
The installation of this plenipotentiary body also generated the reaction of 17 countries of the Americas, which on Tuesday issued a strong condemnation in Lima of the crisis in Venezuela and said they will ignore the actions emanating from the Constituent Assembly.
According to the White House, Trump today rejected a phone call from Maduro. “President Trump will speak with pleasure to the Venezuelan leader as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” a statement said.
In addition, the statement stressed that since assuming his mandate, Trump has asked his Venezuelan counterpart to respect the Constitution, hold free and fair elections, release “political prisoners” and stop committing human rights violations.
“The Maduro regime refused to comply with this request, which resonated in the region and the world. Instead, Maduro chose the path of dictatorship,” Trump added.
Following the imposition of Treasury Department sanctions this week on eight people related to the Constituent Assembly, including the eldest brother of the late President Hugo Chavez, the big question remained whether the United States was going to impose an oil embargo on Venezuela or any other types of sanctions related to crude oil.
“All options are on the table today,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said last week, referring to those options for economic sanctions. However some analysts believe that the government is hesitant to impose an oil embargo because it would cause harm to several US refineries that depend on the Venezuelan crude.