Maduro opponent makes global plea
Cucuta, Colombia — Opposition leader Juan Guaido has called on the international community to consider “all options” to resolve Venezuela’s crisis, a dramatic escalation in rhetoric that echoes comments from the Trump administration hinting at potential U.S. military involvement.
Guaido’s comments late Saturday came after a tumultuous day that saw President Nicolas Maduro’s forces fire tear gas and buckshot on activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid in violent clashes that left two people dead and some 300 injured.
For weeks, the U.S. and regional allies had been amassing emergency food and medical kits on Venezuela’s borders in anticipation of carrying out a “humanitarian avalanche” by land and sea to undermine Maduro’s rule.
With activists failing to penetrate government blockades and deliver the aid, Guaido announced late Saturday that he would escalate his appeal to the international community — beginning with a meeting Monday in Colombia’s capital with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of an emergency summit of leaders of the so-called Lima Group to discuss Venezuela’s crisis.
He said he would urge the international community to keep “all options open” in the fight to restore Venezuela’s democracy, using identical language to that of President Donald Trump, who in his public statements has repeatedly refused to rule out force and reportedly even secretly pressed aides as early as 2017 about the possibility of a military incursion.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also stepped up the belligerent rhetoric, saying on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Maduro’s “days are numbered.”
A close Guadio ally, Julio Borges, the exiled leader of congress who is Guaido’s ambassador to the Lima Group, was even more explicit. “We are going to demand an escalation of diplomatic pressure … and the use of force against Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship,” he said Sunday.
Most Latin American governments, even conservative ones like those in Colombia and Brazil, are on the record opposing a military solution and would face huge dissent should they back any military action led by the U.S., whose interventions in the region during the Cold War remain an open wound.