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Warning 'Every Option Is On the Table,' Pompeo Stokes Fears of Military Force in Venezuela

Comments from secretary of state come day before Vice President Mike Pence heads to the Colombian capital for an emergency summit

People hold posters during a demonstration by Venezuelans against foreign intervention under the slogan #VenezuelaQuierePaz (Venezuela Wants Peace) at United States Embassy on February 18, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo: Franco Fasuli/Getty Images)Unrest and fears of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela continued on Sunday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration's warning that "every option is on the table" and that it would galvanize a "global coalition to put force behind the voice" of those calling for the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro.

Pompeo made the comments on "Fox News Sunday" hours after he tweeted that the "U.S. will take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in #Venezuela," an apparent reference to those who do not back a regime change to opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido.

Guaido, as Bloomberg reported Sunday,

said that he'll meet Monday with officials from countries in the region backing his push to topple Maduro and announce the next steps afterward. While he didn't specify what those steps could be, he did say in a series of tweets that "all options" are being considered.

Shortly thereafter, Senator Marco Rubio [R-Fla.], who's helped spearhead the U.S. position on Venezuela, posted a tweet showing Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega under arrest in the U.S. in what was a not-so-subtle threat to take Maduro out militarily.

Rubio continued the not-so-subtle threats on Sunday afternoon with side by side photos of Muammar Gaddafi, with one showing the ousted Libyan leader bloodied as he was dragged through the streets.

And Colombia's right-wing President Iván Duque, the Associated Press reports,

said that acts of "barbarism" committed by Maduro's troops in blocking the delivery of [U.S.] humanitarian aid required a forceful international response—something that could come as early as Monday, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to the Colombian capital for an emergency summit on Venezuela with foreign ministers from more than a dozen mostly conservative Latin American and Caribbean states.

The United Nations and Red Cross have refused involvement in that supposed aid as it's mired in political objectives. Moreover, adds journalist Mark Cook, "The absurdity of $20 million of US food and medicine aid to a country of 30 million, when U.S. authorities have stolen $30 billion from Venezuela in oil revenue, and take $30 million every day, needs no comment."

Nor, say some foreign policy observers, does the fact that the U.S.-backed war in Yemen has pushed millions to the brink of famine. 

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Some U.S. lawmakers, however, have steered away from joining the chorus advocating regime change.

Sen. Chris Muphy (D-Conn.), a Maduro critic, expressed fears that the U.S. aid is "being sent there now as part of a regime change strategy" in a Twitter thread Saturday night

According to former United Nations special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, "What particularly shocks the conscience is not so much Washington's systematic bullying—we are used to that—but the attempt to sell it as humanitarian."

De Zayas, like Kevin Tillman, an anti-war veteran and brother of Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan, sees echoes of the rush to invade Iraq in what's playing out in Venezuela.

"Yes, Venezuela has problems," Tillman wrote Friday. But, he argues,

It is pretty clear from where I sit that the U.S. is waging illegal economic warfare against the people of Venezuela. From the sanctions to the freezing of assets to the blocking of Venezuela from the international financial system, this is what appears to be driving that country over the edge. So as our leaders publicly lament this "humanitarian crisis," behind the scenes, that is exactly what they want.[...]

Like Iraq, our interference is not about liberating the Venezuelan people from some tyrannical regime. Nor is it about saving them from starvation. So please don't allow our leaders to use the goodness inside of you as a weapon for your own manipulation. The goal is to pillage and plunder a vulnerable nation. It is evident that our representative leaders don't care about the health and welfare of the Venezuelan people any more than they cared about the Iraqi people.

"I beg our elected representatives and anyone with authority inside our government," he concluded, "to halt this strategy of aggression and put an end to what threatens to become a new cycle of violence."

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