Maduro opponents boost military rhetoric

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 26.02.2019 00:07

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 announced late Saturday that he would escalate his appeal to the international community, beginning with a meeting 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 President Nicolas Maduro's "days are numbered." Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who visited the border last week and has Trump's ear on policy toward Venezuela, tweeted out pictures of anti-American strongmen including Panama's Manuel Noriega, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu at the height of their power and then brutal downfall, the not so subtle suggestion being that Maduro himself could suffer a similar fate.

Amid escalating military rhetoric, the EU yesterday urged countries to avoid any military intervention in Venezuela. "We must avoid a military intervention," Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, told reporters. "What is explicitly quite clear, from our point of view, is that we need a peaceful political and democratic and Venezuelan-owned resolution of this crisis," she added. "This obviously excludes the use of force."

The Trump administration was the first to recognize Guaido as acting president. As tensions between Washington and Caracas have risen sharply, Maduro has accused the U.S. of plotting an invasion. He accused U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton of overseeing a plot to replace him.

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