President Donald Trump said he’s considering a military option in response to the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, raising the specter of a U.S. intervention in Latin America that could spread turmoil in the region.
Trump’s statement suggested the U.S. may get more deeply involved in Venezuela, which has been subject to increasing sanctions since President Nicolas Maduro convened a national assembly designed to rewrite the country’s constitution and consolidate his power.
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“Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying.” Trump said during a brief news conference Friday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”
The president declined to say whether the U.S. would seek to overthrow Maduro. He gave no specifics on what the U.S. would do militarily or whether he would act unilaterally. Vice President Mike Pence is heading to South America over the weekend, with stops including Colombia, Argentina and Chile.
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U.S. military action in Venezuela risks rekindling regional resentments stemming from past interventions. It also may have the unintended effect of giving Maduro a rallying point for his supporters as he tries to suppress opposition to his policies.