President Donald Trump said the use of military force in Venezuela is not off the table yet as the political crisis in the South American nation deepens, adding that he refused to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro several months ago.
Trump made the comments during an interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation,” refusing to say what could make him use the U.S. military in Venezuela. When asked what could prompt him to use military force there, as well as what the national security interest for such action would be, President Trump replied, “Well, I don’t want to say that, but certainly it’s something that on the — it’s an option.”
In January, the president of Venezuela’s Nation Assembly, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself interim president of the country, saying that he was not ruling out a U.S. military intervention, but adding that he hopes it doesn’t come to that. Guaido stressed then that the people of Venezuela want to end Maduro’s dictatorship with “whatever pressure is necessary.”
In the interview, President Trump also noted that Maduro had asked to meet with him a few months ago, but he denied.
“I’ve turned it down because we’re very far along in the process. You have a young and energetic gentleman, but you have other people within that same group that have been very, very — if you talk about democracy — it’s really democracy in action,” Trump said.
He cited the “really horrible things” that had been happening in Venezuela as the reason for declining to meet with the country’s president.
“I decided at the time, ‘no’ because so many really horrible things have been happening in Venezuela when you look at that country. That was the wealthiest country of all in that part of the world which is a very important part of the world,” Trump noted. “And now you look at the poverty and you look at the anguish and you look at the crime and you look at all of the things happening. So, I think the process is playing out — very, very big tremendous protests.”