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Protests have broken out across Venezuela, increasing in intensity as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to tighten his grip on the government. Image courtesy of Ariana Cubillos, AP.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he wouldn’t rule out a “military operation” in Venezuela.

Speaking to reporters at his New Jersey golf club, the commander-in chief explained what seemed to be a newly-developed position on the South American nation.

“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” said Trump.

The proposal is the latest escalation in a series of steps the administration has taken against the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, following a July 30 vote that allowed the leader to replace an opposition-held National Assembly with a 545-member Constituent Assembly.

The replacement Constituent Assembly is comprised solely of Maduro’s supporters.

The step towards dictatorship was made as protests and civil unrest in Venezuela seemed to be coming to a head. Opposition leaders and ordinary people across the country have been rallying against high inflation, law enforcement crackdowns, and a shortage of critical products, such as bottled water and toilet paper.

Earlier in the month, Maduro and his government were criticized by the United Nations’ Human Rights Office for using excessive force and arbitrarily detaining thousands of individuals.

Donald Trump has already publicly derided the Venezuelan president as a ‘dictator,’ issuing sanctions against Maduro and two other former and current ranking officials.

“The United States condemns the actions of the Maduro dictatorship. Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ledezma are political prisoners being held illegally by the regime,” said Donald Trump in a statement issued near the beginning of August.

Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were two of Maduro’s most important political opponents.

Despite Trump’s claims of a possible ‘military operation’, the president’s National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, told MSNBC that the use of force wasn’t a pliable option.

“No. I don’t think so,” McMaster said, responding to the network’s question of whether the armed forces were a possible solution to Venezuela’s ongoing crisis. “What’s really required is for everyone to have one voice about the need to protect the rights and the safety of the Venezuelan people.”

The American commander-in-chief’s comments are the latest in a recent bout of saber-rattling.

Last week, Donald Trump promised ‘fire and fury’ if North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un threatened the United States with nuclear weapons.

Not long after the thread hit headlines, Kim suggested that his nation would have a warhead capable of hitting the U.S. mainland by the end of the year.

Maduro – at least for a brief moment- seemed to take Trump’s temper in stride.

“Mr. Donald Trump,” he said on Thursday, “here is my hand.”

Minutes later, Maduro accused the president of being behind a failed raid on a Venezuelan military base last Saturday.

Sources

Donald Trump threatens ‘military option’ in crisis-hit Venezuela; Pentagon says it has ‘no orders’

Trump: ‘I’m not going to rule out a military option’ in Venezuela

Trump says he won’t rule out military option in Venezuela

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