Self-proclaimed Venezuelan president Juan Guaido’s coup yesterday failed to get off the ground. The military did not join him and protests were barely seen outside a few of Caracas’s wealthy neighborhoods. Frustrated and furious, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by threatening direct US military action to overthrow President Maduro. An urgent call with Russian foreign minister is scheduled today. Are neocons about to ignite the earth?
Pompeo: Maduro was ready to leave. Russians said stay
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was preparing to leave his country, but was talked out of it by Russia.
US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed that Mr Maduro had been set to fly out of Venezuela on Tuesday morning but was talked out of it by the Russians.
Mr Maduro denied the claims late on Tuesday. “Mike Pompeo said that… Maduro had a plane ready to take him to Cuba but the Russians prevented him from leaving the country. Mister Pompeo, please, this really is a joke,” Mr Maduro said.
Mr Trump publicly accused Cuba of conducting military options in Venezuela to support Mr Maduro and threatened a “complete embargo” and “highest-level sanctions” unless they stopped.
Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs denied there the presence of any Cuban military in the country, writing on Twitter: “There are no Cuban troops in #Venezuela; nor are there any Cubans taking part in military or security operations there.”
Pompeo said he would urge Maduro to “fire up the plane,” warning that “the cost for he and those who protect him will continue to increase.”
“The harm that he will bring to them will only increase. We implore him, it’s time for him to leave, it’s time for him to depart Venezuela, and we would urge him to do this at the earliest possible moment,” he said.
However, the secretary of state refused to say whether Maduro would be permitted to safely depart for Cuba, instead saying that “Mr. Maduro understands what will happen if he gets on that airplane.”
“He knows our expectations,” Pompeo said when repeatedly pressed on the question.
While Pompeo noted that the US has told Russia and Cuba that their support for the embattled Venezuelan leader is “unacceptable,” he would not say whether he holds Russia responsible for the violence or whether US President Donald Trump had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue.
“While the US has never taken the military option off the table, the US doesn’t have forces in the area sufficient for an invasion,” said Ivers. “It would be far more difficult even than Iraq. The terrain, the number of Venezuelan forces, it would have been a much bloodier conflict.”
And Ivers added that armed US intervention — something Guaido supporters have said they do not want — “would have meant an end to international support for Guaido, but they always left it on the table to ensure the regime knew they meant business, this was a serious effort, not just for show.”
Bolton said the US would continue “planning for what we call ‘the day after,’ the day after Maduro,” adding that “it’s been very much on our mind. … Those plans are moving ahead, we’re trying to refine them,” he said.
In the meantime, Risa Grais-Targow, director of the Latin America program at the Eurasia Group, wrote that key “signposts to watch in the coming hours and days are additional defections from within the armed forces, not only in terms of the number, but also in terms of the profile of figures who are defecting.”
A key variable, she said, will be whether those figures command troops, whether those troops are loyal to them, how many of them there are and their ability to threaten the government militarily.