The Trump administration has no public plans to send U.S. forces to Venezuela, but as of Friday, neither the president nor a top adviser were ruling out such a step.
The Trump administration has recognized Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s president as part of its efforts to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to give up power.
John Bolton, the White House national security adviser who has been the public face of the administraion in calling for Maduro to step down, on Friday was asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if military force was part of the administration’s plans.
Bolton’s report was a succinct “No.”
“The president said all options are on the table. But our objective is a peaceful transfer of power,” he said, according to a transcript of the show.
I wish Nicolas Maduro and his top advisors a long, quiet retirement, living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela. They should take advantage of President Guaido’s amnesty and move on. The sooner the better.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 31, 2019
Bolton’s comments echoed those Trump gave reporters at a Friday media session, according to a White House media pool report.
Trump was asked whether he was willing to commit U.S. troops to force the current regime to turn over power.
“I don’t want to say that. But it’s always an option. Everything is an option. I take no options off the table,” Trump replied.
In the Hewitt interview, Bolton cited former President George H.W. Bush and said going further than that that general statement would be “imprudent,” accoridng to the transcript.
“We’ve been imposing economic sanctions, increasing political pressure from around the world,” he said. “But our objective is a peaceful transfer of power … Within a day or two, we’re going to see a major series of demonstrations all across Venezuela tomorrow intended to convince the military, among others in Venezuela, that the overwhelming majority of the people of the country want the Maduro regime thrown out. That’s what we hope and expect to do.”
While Bolton and Trump soft-pedaled any American response, Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that the U.S. wants Maduro gone and has no interest in talks with him.
“This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action,” Pence told a rally in Doral, Florida, Reuters reported.
“The time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all,” he said.
The collapse of Venezuela’s economy has left many people there in dire straits. Pense said the U.S. will work with Maduro’s opposition to assist thiose in crisis.
“The United States of America stands ready to deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people in Venezuela as well,” Pence said.
At the rally, Pence met with Venezuelan emigre Mayra Lopez.
“Being here now at this moment, we see hope finally,” she said.
“We’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. And we believe this is the moment,” she added.
On Friday, Colombian President Ivan Duque suggested Maduro’s end was near, Reuters reported.
“Today it’s worthy to applaud what the world is seeing and that is that the dictatorship of Venezuela has very few hours left, because there’s a new institutional regime that’s being created thanks to the work that Colombia and other countries have done,” said Duque, whose nation has recognized the opposition as the legitimate government of Venezuela.
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