By Jon Dougherty
The situation unfolding in Venezuela remains very “fluid” and POTUS Donald Trump has still not ruled out military intervention to ensure that President Nicolas Maduro is successfully deposed, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
During an interview with Fox News‘ Bret Baier on Tuesday, Pompeo was asked to assess the situation unfolding in the chaotic South American country, where basic food, medicine, and other commodities have been in short supply for years following the socialist-led collapse of the country’s economy.
“If the question is is the United States prepared to consider military action if that’s what it takes to restore the democracy there in Venezuela, the president’s been consistent and unambiguous about that,” Pompeo said in response to comments by the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, who-who claimed that the U.S. has deployed 3,000 people who are “planning for war” to the American embassy in neighboring Colombia.
“The option to use military force is available if that’s what is ultimately called for. We hope it’s not, we hope there can be a peaceful resolution and that Maduro will leave without violence,” Pompeo said.
The uprising, led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has so far not forced Maduro out of office, as planned. Some elements within the Venezuelan military have sided with him, however, and there are reports that Venezuelan ex-pats are indeed gathering in neighboring Colombia preparing to fight Maduro’s forces by joining Guaidó.
As for the embattled Venezuelan president, Pompeo said he and other members of his government were preparing to bail out of the capital of Caracas yesterday but Russian officials intervened.
“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 told CNN.
“We think the situation remains incredibly fluid. We know that there were senior leaders inside the Maduro government that were prepared to leave. They told as much over the past few weeks. And we’re convinced that the Venezuelan people are going to get their democracy back.”
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the CIA is behind an effort to assemble an armed rebel force in Colombia that would be used as proxies for U.S. forces, especially since Russia has military officials in Venezuela, as well as armed mercenaries specifically assigned to guard Maduro.
As for Russia, the country has invested billions in Venezuela’s oil sector and, thus, Moscow has a financial stake in ensuring Maduro’s survival.
The U.S., most European countries, and many South American nations back Guaidó, however. Tensions have been simmering for months, and Maduro has been searching for a way to neutralize (as in arrest and jail) Guaidó and get by with it. He would have done so already if he truly believed he had the backing of most Venezuelans and did not fear reprisals from the U.S.
The reported presence of armed rebels in Colombia coupled with Guaidó’s ‘sudden’ rebellion and near-instant public approval voiced by Trump administration officials smacks of pre-planning in which the U.S. was deeply involved.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10