Latin America rejects Trump’s military threat against Venezuela

Venezuela's Presidente Nicolas Maduro gestures as he speaks during a session of the National Constituent Assembly at Palacio Federal Legislativo in Caracas
Venezuela's Presidente Nicolas Maduro gestures as he speaks during a session of the National Constituent Assembly at Palacio Federal Legislativo in Caracas, Venezuela August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

August 13, 2017

By Brian Ellsworth and Mitra Taj

CARACAS/LIMA (Reuters) – After months of attacking Venezuela’s unpopular President Nicolas Maduro, Latin America came out strongly against U.S. threats of military action against the crisis-hit nation.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise comments on Friday may bring the beleaguered Maduro some respite in the region, just as Venezuela was on verge of becoming a pariah over its recent installation of a legislative superbody, widely condemned as a power grab by the ruling Socialists.

Following Trump’s assertion that military intervention in Venezuela was an option, Maduro’s critics are caught between backing the idea of a foreign invasion of Venezuela or supporting a president they call a dictator.

The sudden escalation of Washington’s response to Venezuela’s crisis preceded U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the region beginning Sunday. He is set to visit Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Panama.

Trump did not specify what type of options he had in mind.

Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino on Friday disparaged Trump’s warning as “craziness” and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Saturday Venezuela rejected “hostile” threats, calling on Latin America to unite against Washington.

“We want to express gratitude for all the expressions ofsolidarity and rejection of the use of force from governments around the world, including Latin America,” said Arreaza, in a short speech on Saturday.

“Some of these countries have recently taken positions absolutely contrary to our sovereignty and independence but still have rejected the declarations of the U.S. president.”

It was one of Maduro’s fiercest critics, Peru, that led the charge in criticizing Trump’s threat, saying it was against United Nations principles. Mexico and Colombia joined in with statements of their own.

Regional alliance Mercosur added that it rejected the use of force against Venezuela, despite having indefinitely suspended the country last week amid international condemnation of Maduro’s new, all-powerful “constituent Assembly”.

After four months of deadly protests against his government, Maduro says the assembly is Venezuela’s only hope of obtaining peace by locking in the socialist policies of his mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. Critics say the assembly is a bald maneuver by Maduro to cling to power as his popularity slumps under the weight of the country’s economic crisis.

Peru expelled Venezuela’s ambassador in Lima on Friday, but that did not stop it from criticizing Trump’s threat.

“All foreign or domestic threats to resort to force undermine the goal of reinstating democratic governance in Venezuela, as well as the principles enshrined in the U.N. charter,” said Peru’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna.

Peru under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had taken the toughest stance yet toward Venezuela’s socialist government, and has openly called Maduro a “dictator”.

RESCHEDULED ELECTION

The new legislative superbody, which made waves last weekend by firing a dissident chief prosecutor, took new action on Saturday on the country’s election timetable. It unanimously passed a resolution to move the country’s Dec. 10 governors’ election up to October.

Assembly members said the decision was made in part because the election had been delayed due to “opposition-led violence.” More than 120 people have died in unrest and anti-government protests since April.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) was asked by the assembly to set the exact date for the governors’ election.

Venezuela is undergoing a crisis in which millions are suffering from food and medicine shortages and high inflation.

The ruling Socialist Party has for years accused the United States of plotting an invasion as a way of controlling its oil reserves, the world’s largest, through a military intervention similar to the Iraq war.

Previous U.S. administrations had brushed this off as politicized rhetoric meant to distract from Venezuela’s domestic problems.

Under former President Barack Obama, the State Department in 2015 made quiet diplomatic overtures that led to several high-level meetings. The effort ultimately foundered as Maduro hardened his stance against opposition critics.

Venezuela’s Information Minister Vladimir Villegas on Saturday tweeted a picture of the Statue of Liberty holding a machine gun instead of a torch, and a link to an article describing, “A Chronology of U.S. ‘Military Options’ in Latam and the Caribbean.”

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea in Caracas; Caroline Stauffer in Buenos Aires, Julia Love in Mexico City and Helen Murphy in Bogota; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mary Milliken)

  • bree maan

    They are fighting and dying for their democracy that they voted for and is being taken away from them. Venezuela has an abundance of resources, they should not be lacking food and medicines. They need help, they want help, they are the ones we SHOULD be helping.

  • R A.

    Bluntly put: EFF Latin America

  • Fábio

    All governments and most of the politicians in Latina America are socialists. Of course they are against an USA intervention. However, the people that are fighting against the socialism, and are starving or dying, are hopefully for an international help. In 1980’s there was a summit of Latin American socialistic leaders, such as Fidel Castro, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chaves. That summit was called Foro de São Paulo. Since then they are plotting to take over the Latin America, and they almost succeeded. The Latin American people has been harmed by socialistic groups, politicians, and governments. Save Latin America from the communism.

  • TOSOR

    The United States Military provides more humanitarian relief around the world than any other country, period.

    Why would President Trump NOT want to send in some help?

    Trump is tweaking the news media with tweets like that. Look at the frenzy they are in because he used the word “military” without the word “relief”.

    Dance liberal news, dance!
    .

  • Pingback: Trump threatens Venezuela with ‘military option’ – Newspapers By State()

  • TP

    Turn your back on Venezuela and Vladimir will be there in a heart beat! That’s what happened in Syria.
    Like it or not my friend when your the World power you must be involved!

    • Disgusted Citizen

      It’s YOU’RE not YOUR you ignoramus. Learn some basic grammar before enlightening everyone with your “Jenius”

      • FO

        You ARE a jackass!

        • Levi

          Why?? because he knows proper grammar??

          • dragon lady

            No, because he was out of line. Appears he was not looking at content of thought, just grammar.

      • j jones

        Another altright know it all

      • dragon lady

        These comments are not being made in an English class and do not require your grading for spelling, grammar or opinion unless offered on the subject at hand.

        • Ayndy Rand

          Who cares what the mean old crank thinks anyway.

    • Pezgun

      We must absolutely be involved in what is happening in Venezuela. The country no longer has a functional government and the situation is devolving daily. If we do nothing, we will soon see the rise of an eastern aligned dictatorship. Putin is one possiblity, Xi is another but there are more and they are worse.

  • Jack Woodburn

    Please, Mr. President, we don’t need to get involved in Venezuela. It is NOT a national security threat. We don’t need their oil. Let the OAS states, the useless UN and the Venezuelans themselves deal with it. We have enough on our plate with Islam and NOKO…

    • barskii

      The largest Iranian Embassy in the World is in Venezuela.
      their Country is broke becase of it.