WASHINGTON (Alliance News) – The US has not ruled out a military option for dealing with Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of trying to establish a dictatorship, President Donald Trump said Friday.
The situation in the South American country was discussed Friday at a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and US National Security Advisor H R McMaster at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Venezuela was “a mess, a very dangerous mess and a sad situation,” Trump said, adding that people there were suffering and dying.
In a later statement, the White House also said Trump had rejected a proposed phone call with Maduro, saying he would not speak to him until “democracy is restored”.
On Thursday, Maduro reportedly instructed his foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, to arrange a phone call or meeting with Trump.
“Aren’t you interested in talking to Venezuela? Here I am,” he reportedly said during a speech at the constituent assembly, a new body that was elected amid international condemnation and allegations of electoral fraud late last month.
Maduro, who has in the past accused Washington of colluding with the opposition to unseat him, also indicated that the US may have had a role in an attack on a military base in northern Venezuela last weekend.
“The terrorist attack on Fort Paramacay, which was combated by the national defence forces, is an expression of the new Trump era,” Maduro, according to the El Nacional newspaper.
Since early April more than 120 people have died in demonstrations against Maduro and his socialist government triggered by a Supreme Court attempt to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its powers.
The constituent assembly, which the US as well as the EU and many Latin American countries have said they will not recognize, immediately granted itself the power to overrule the National Assembly following its July 30 election.
Critics say the body, stacked with Maduro supporters including his wife and son, is a blatant attempt by Maduro to seize further powers for himself. A clampdown on the opposition has also intensified since its inauguration.
Caracas also expelled Peru’s top envoy on Friday, hours after Lima announced it was giving Venezuelan Ambassador Diego Molero five days to leave Peru.
The Foreign Ministry in Caracas said in response it was giving Peru’s Carlos Rossi five days to pack his bags.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry said it had based its decision on what it said was Maduro’s “unacceptable” answer to the condemnation of Maduro’s actions by 17 governments from North and South America earlier this week.
Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering rampant inflation and chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.
By dpa correspondents