CARACAS, Venezuela – Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Republican Party, said US President Donald Trump had discussed with him the possibility of using military force in Venezuela a few weeks ago.
Venezuela is undergoing a political crisis, and President Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly confirmed that Washington is orchestrating a coup in his country.
“He [Trump] said, ‘What do you think about using military force?’” Graham reportedly recalled to Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “I said, ‘Well, you need to go slow on that, that could be problematic.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m surprised, you want to invade everybody,’” Graham was quoted as saying.
According to Graham, military force should only be used when US national security interests are compromised. The senator added that Trump was “very aggressive” about Venezuela.
Citing senior Trump government officials, the news site reported that there were no signs that Washington really planned to invade Venezuela, since the US president only wanted to accelerate regime change in the Latin American country due to economic reasons and diplomats, but Lindey’s words say otherwise.
On January 23, the conflict between the government and the opposition in Venezuela worsened when National Assembly President Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself the interim president of the country. The US and several other countries have recognized Guaido. In turn, Maduro said Washington is organizing a coup and said that Caracas is breaking diplomatic relations with the United States.
Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been tense for a long time. In August 2017, Trump commented that he would not rule out a “military option” to end chaos in Venezuela.
Russia supported Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela and demonstrated its willingness to become a mediator in establishing relations between the authorities and the opposition in Venezuela if such efforts are deemed necessary.
On the eve of major military maneuvers, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visited several military bases and met with members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces.
On January 25, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the 2019 Bicentenary of Angostura military exercises, which will be held between February 10 and 15. The Bolivarian Armed Forces will practice the defense of the territory, coast and national rivers of foreign invaders. In addition, the military will review civilian and military mobilization mechanisms.
After the opposition and National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela and several countries recognized him as the country’s leader, Maduro stated that the country’s armed forces should be ready to defend Venezuela and announced major military exercises .
The Venezuelan president has published on Twitter videos inspecting the preparatory military maneuvers for the Bicentennial of Angostura 2019.
The president has already visited the 41st Armored Brigade at Fort Paramacay and the Naval Base Agustín Armario, in the city of Puerto Cabello.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said earlier that the Venezuelan army does not support Juan Guaidó, a self-proclaimed leader of the country, and stressed the readiness of the military to defend the country’s sovereignty.
Nos estamos preparando para los ejercicios militares más importantes de nuestra historia, en homenaje al Bicentenario de Angostura. Su objetivo es acoplar toda la capacidad, operativa, organizacional, de armas y de unión cívico militar, para defender nuestra Patria. pic.twitter.com/TUsCWVn0uL
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) January 27, 2019