US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump is expressing concern over the growing crisis in Venezuela and not ruling out military action as a response.
Trump told reporters that all options remain on the table in response to anti-democratic actions in Venezuela, including military intervention.
Venezuela’s defense minister called Trump’s talk of a military intervention an act of “craziness” and “supreme extremism.”
Trump said Venezuela’s political crisis was among the topics discussed at the talks he hosted at his golf club in New Jersey with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“Venezuela is a mess. It is very dangerous mess and a very sad situation,” Trump said.
But if any US military contingency planning is under way, it must be in its early stages. A Pentagon spokesman, Eric Pahon, refused to elaborate on Trump’s comments, adding: “As of right now, the Pentagon has received no orders.”
The Trump administration has already placed sanctions against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and numerous other current and former Venezuelan officials in the wake of a crackdown on opposition leaders.
The White House says it’s rejected a request by Maduro to speak to Trump, saying restoring democracy must come first.
Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves and is the third largest petroleum supplier to the US.
The crisis has fueled the street demonstrations that have gripped Venezuela for the past four months. Nearly 130 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.
The protests have lost steam in the past week as security forces have stepped up repression and demonstrators have grown discouraged by the opposition’s failure to bring about change.