Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Says 'Military Action' Possible in Venezuela

VENEZUELA-CRISIS-POLITICS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to rule out U.S. military action in Venezuela to help stem the violence in the country during an interview with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday.

"The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent – military action is possible, if that’s what’s required – that’s what the United States will do," Pompeo said.

The Secretary of State said they were trying to do everything they could to avoid violence, "We'd prefer a peaceful transition of government there where Maduro leaves and a new election is held."

On Tuesday, opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for protests against Maduro's regime in a three-and-a-half minute video posted online. Guaido claimed to have the support of Venezuela's military and said Tuesday's protests were the 'final phase' of his plan to end Maduro's time in office. As head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Guaidó proclaimed himself the nation's interim president after a widely disputed election was held last year. The results of Venezuela's national election were challenged by several countries, including the United States, who moved to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's leader on January 10.

Pompeo told CNN Tuesday night that Maduro was ready to flee Venezuela last night, but the Venezuelan leader changed his mind after Russian officials persuaded him to stay.

"He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it and the Russians indicated he should stay," Pompeo said. Maduro was heading for Cuba, a close ally to the Venezuelan leader. President Trump accused Cuba of helping to prop up Maduro's government and threatened a 'complete embargo' of the island nation if their military did not "immediately" cease operations in Venezuela.

Only one high-ranking officer and a small group of soldiers have joined Guaidó in the coup, the Associated Press reported. Guaidó has urged Venezuelans to take to the streets Wednesday for more mass protests against the Maduro regime.

At least one U.S. Senator has called on the Trump administration to intervene militarily in the South American Country.

“President Trump should immediately position American military assets to be ready to deliver aid to the people and defend freedom and democracy as well as U.S. national security interests in our hemisphere," Florida Sen. Rick Scott said in a statement last week. "Guaidó and the people of Venezuela have taken this critical step. We cannot abandon them. Inaction is not an option."

Photo: Getty Images

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