Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated Tuesday that Russian intervention has kept current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from leaving the country.
On Wednesday, Pompeo said U.S. officials were monitoring the situation in Venezuela, where May Day protests were expected to bring about more confrontations in the streets between troops and protesters. On Tuesday, opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the ouster of Maduro, sparking clashes in multiple cities.
HORRIFIC! Maduro’s regime forces running over protesters in #Venezuela.
Why is the UN Human Rights Council silent? I stand with the Venezuelan people. pic.twitter.com/g2umayoWBi
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) May 1, 2019
Pompeo said that he expects “lots of people taking to the streets today to defend their democracy.”
President Donald Trump will do what it takes to ensure a stable government of the South American nation, which experienced economic and political collapse under Maduro’s socialist regime, Pompeo said.
“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,” Pompeo told Fox Business Network.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid violence. We’ve asked all the parties involved not to engage in the kind of activity. We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government there, where Maduro leaves and a new election is held,” he said.
Pompeo refused to rule out any options.
“But the President has made clear, in the event that there comes a moment — and we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is — and the President will have to ultimately make that decision. He is prepared to do that if that’s what’s required,” he said.
Pompeo said on Tuesday that Maduro was planning to abandon Venezuela.
“He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it and the Russians indicated he should stay,” Pompeo said, according to CNN.
National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday that the Russians are not the only foreign force supporting Maduro, CNN reported.
“Maduro spent the day not in the company of Venezuelan forces, but surrounded by Cubans because he doubted the loyalty of the Venezuelan armed forces,” Bolton said. “If this afternoon 20-25,000 Cubans left Venezuela, I think Maduro would fall by midnight.”
Pompeo said Wednesday that the administration’s priority is to get Maduro to leave voluntarily.
“We are focused on making sure that we do we can to take this malign activity, which is undermining Juan Guaidó, who is the dually elected leader of Venezuela and take these supports out from underneath him so that he will depart the country,” he said, according to Fox Business Network.
Some Republicans have argued for action to support the Venezuelan opposition.
.@jguaido & the people of Venezuela have taken a critical step. We cannot abandon them. Inaction is not an option.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 30, 2019
We stand with them & that’s the most important thing we can do –> pic.twitter.com/b4bVaBSP5Z
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) May 1, 2019
Commentator Kevin Ivers said that despite calls for some kind of military action, the U.S. is poorly positioned to intervene.
“While the US has never taken the military option off the table, the US doesn’t have forces in the area sufficient for an invasion,” Ivers, vice president of the DCI Group, told CNN.
Intervention “would be far more difficult even than Iraq. The terrain, the number of Venezuelan forces, it would have been a much bloodier conflict,” he said.
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