President Donald Trump floated the idea of an invasion of Venezuela, a source for The Independent reports. According to a top-level U.S. administration official, the concept was first discussed last August during a meeting with senior staff in the Oval Office. At this time, the source alleges, President Trump asked why the United States could not just invade the deeply troubled nation.
Venezuela is currently facing an economic crisis, which has led to drastic unrest amongst its population. A video that went viral earlier this year in January showed a mob of men brutally beating a cow to death while shouting out their hunger, according to The Daily Mail. Reuters reinforces this grim vision for the socialist nation-state — as of February this year, the average Venezuelan citizen has lost about 25 pounds in body weight and that over 90 percent of the population is currently living in serious poverty.
Months after the initial briefing on the matter in the Oval Office, the American president was told not to mention the topic as he was slated to sit down to speak with allies from four Latin American countries during a private dinner. The very first thing that President Trump said during the private affair was “my staff told me not to say this,” and continued with his controversial line of inquiry, shocking his advisers at the time.
President Trump reportedly then asked each individual seated at the table in turn whether they believed it might not be an option to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime by military action, according to the sourced official, with all present declining the invitation. The allies present consisted of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, two Colombian diplomats, and the source official.
President Trump pressed aides about an invasion of Venezuela, unnamed U.S. official says https://t.co/NA4F5TOO2o— TIME (@TIME) July 4, 2018
In his initial meeting with then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security advisor Herbert McMaster in the Oval Office last August, President Trump defended the nation’s previous successful record of gunboat diplomacy in the region, citing the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s. Tillerson and McMaster vehemently opposed the notion, advising the president that the mere suggestion of force would risk losing hard-won support and political capital amongst Latin American governments currently riding a natural crest of opposition to Nicolas Maduro’s already embattled regime as Venezuela’s situation worsens.
The White House declined any invitation to speak on the matter, with a National Security Council spokesman simply reiterating that the United States would not remove any potential action from the table.
President Maduro’s reaction was not quite so measured.
Within a few days of having heard about the speculation surrounding Trump’s statements regarding a potential military action, Maduro filled the streets with his partisan loyalists, called for national military exercises, and threatened to imprison opponents he claimed were seditiously undermining his power in support of the American administration.
“Mind your own business and solve your own problems, Mr. Trump!” roared Nicolas Maduro Guerra, who is the son of the Venezuelan leader, speaking before the handpicked constituent assembly.
“If Venezuela were attacked, the rifles will arrive in New York, Mr. Trump,” Guerra said. “We will take the White House.”