Following President Donald Trump floating the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela’s civil strife, officials there lashed out at him as “elitist” for making “imperial” threats, according to reports.
Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino characterized Trump’s warning as an act of “craziness” or “madness” depending on the translation.
“It is an act of supreme extremism. There is an extremist elite that rules the United States,” he told state television, according to Reuters and The New York Times.
Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said the foreign ministry would put together an official response addressing “the imperial threat to Venezuela” on Saturday.
“The diplomatic corps is summoned to the foreign ministry for tomorrow, when it will release a communiqué addressing the imperial threat to Venezuela,” he tweeted.
Trump on Friday said “a military option is certainly something that we could pursue” in Venezuela, saying that people there are “suffering”.
The U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in late July amid his attempts to rewrite his country’s constitution by forming a new constituent assembly.
Opposition protests in the country – which have gone on for months – have been met with violence and the country is also struggling due to food and medical shortages. The White House later on Friday said Trump refused to take a call from Maduro.
“President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.