Venezuela dismisses Trump’s ‘vile threats’
caracas, venezuela — President Trump’s claim that he is not ruling out “military” action in Venezuela prompted a fresh wave of anti-American sentiment by government officials here.
President Nicolás Maduro’s backers were using Trump’s statement from Friday as a tool to unite Venezuelans against what they perceive as a common enemy.
“We reject the cowardly, insolent, and vile threats of the President of the United States against the sacred sovereignty of Venezuela,” tweeted Delcy Rodríguez, Maduro’s former foreign minister. She is now president of the new, all-powerful and pro-government Constituent Assembly created by a controversial vote last month.
On national television, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said: “This is an act of craziness; it’s an act of supreme extremism. There’s an extremist elite governing the United States.”
Trump told journalists Friday: “We are all over the world, and we have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”
Trump’s threats about a “military option” appeared to be dividing U.S. allies in the region, risking the unity of Latin American nations that are seeking to pressure Venezuela’s authoritarian government to change course.
“The government of Chile rejects the threat of a military intervention in Venezuela,” tweeted Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz. He said that foreign ministers from many Latin American countries had agreed to reject any military steps.
Rather than applying pressure, observers said, claims such as Trump’s largely serve to aid Maduro.
“As we have seen with many Trump declarations, they’re said in the heat of the moment with no concrete basis,” said Mariano de Alba, a Venezuelan lawyer and international relations expert. “The regime will take as much advantage of the juicy declarations as it can.”
As recently as Thursday, Maduro — the anointed successor of leftist firebrand Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013 — said he wanted to have “respectful” relations with the United States.
After Trump’s remarks on Friday, the White House press secretary released a statement saying the president had rejected a request from Maduro for a phone call. “Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” the statement read.