While events play out on the streets of the Venezuelan capital more than three thousand kilometers north, in Washington, the Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on the government of Nicolas Maduro.
CGTN’s Nathan King reports.
As the future of Venezuela hangs in the balance, the U.S. has been publicly trying to tip the scales.
From U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making unsubstantiated claims about Moscow and Maduro:
“There are indications that Maduro was prepared to leave,” Pompeo said.
To explicitly saying the U.S. may use force in Venezuela
“Military action is possible if that’s what’s required. That’s what the United States will do.” 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. #EstamosUnidosVE
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 30, 2019
Official after official in the Trump administration has been publicly supporting opposition leader Juan Guido and challenging governments that support Nicolas Maduro—sometimes using Cold War rhetoric.
“I don’t say this is an ideological conflict, but this is our hemisphere,” John Bolton, U.S. National Security Adviser said. “It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering. This is a mistake on their part. It’s not going to lead to an improvement of relations.”
In fact, the U.S. president even tweeted about imposing sanctions on Cuba for its support of Maduro, failing to mention that Cuba has already been under U.S. embargo for 60 years.
….embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba. Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2019
And in a story reminiscent of the times when the U.S. used to use covert armies to undermine governments across Latin America. The Reuters news agency reported that Erik Prince – the founder of controversial private security firm Blackwater, and advisor to the Trump administration – has been pushing a plan to hire mercenaries to topple Maduro.
If that sounds far-fetched, consider that the U.S. President’s special envoy for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, was convicted in the 1990s in connection with his involvement in the Contra rebel’s scandal. Illegal arms sales to Iran were used to fund a right-wing insurgency against the Nicaraguan government.
U.S. officials say they’re not backing regime change because they recognize – along with much of the West – Juan Guido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. But the White House is doing all it can – in front of the cameras and behind the scenes – to make sure President Maduro is forced from office.