Rejection of a ‘military option’
Venezuela’s neighbors are quick to defend it against a remark from President Trump.
WASHINGTON — Latin American governments and institutions, even some of Venezuela’s harshest critics, came to the country’s defense on Saturday, rejecting President Trump’s suggestion that a “military option” might be one way to address the turmoil there.
“We have many options for Venezuela,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in New Jersey after meeting Friday with United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security advisor H.R. McMaster. “And by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option.”
It was unclear how seriously to take the threat, given Trump’s propensity to speak off the cuff and the casual nature of the statement. He often says he does not like to take any options off the table because he believes it keeps adversaries off balance.
But his declaration, nonetheless, raised concerns of further insecurity at a moment when many around the globe, including allies, are questioning America’s ability to continue providing a stable source of world leadership.
The Peruvian government has accused President Nicolas Maduro’s government of undermining the institution of democracy. On Saturday, it once more condemned the recent election of an assembly stacked with Maduro loyalists who are charged with writing a new constitution. Even so, Peru rejected Trump’s comments.
“Peru rejects any threat or use of force not authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations,” the government said in a statement. Colombia dismissed Trump’s comments as well.
The South American trading group Mercosur repeated criticism of Venezuela while rejecting the use of force to achieve change.
Mercosur this month suspended Venezuela’s membership in the multinational body and on Saturday said in a statement that the “Venezuelan government cannot aspire to a normal coexistence with its neighbors” until democracy is restored.
The members of Mercosur are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the statement released by the Foreign Ministry of Argentina, the group said that “the only acceptable instruments for the promotion of democracy are dialogue and diplomacy.”
The suggestion that Trump would initiate a military operation in Venezuela — something no one in the intelligence or diplomatic communities has suggested — awakened old ghosts of U.S. intervention in Latin America and seems unlikely to preserve the hemispheric unity that Washington had until now mustered in opposition to the abuses of Maduro’s government.
The Trump administration has already imposed economic sanctions last month against Venezuela and Maduro, after an election that solidified the authoritarian leader’s grip on government.
AN OPPOSITION activist aims a slingshot in Caracas, Venezuela, which has been convulsed by protests.