US President Donald Trump reportedly raised with advisers the idea of imposing a naval blockade against Venezuela for over a year. A new media report claims, citing senior US officials, that the US president suggested anchoring the US Navy along the Venezuelan coastline.
Such a move, according to sources familiar with the matter, could prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, Axios media outlet reported.
“He literally just said we should get the ships out there and do a naval embargo […] Prevent anything going in”, one source who had heard the US president’s comments told Axios.
“I’m assuming he’s thinking of the Cuban missile crisis […] But Cuba is an island and Venezuela is a massive coastline. And Cuba we knew what we were trying to prevent from getting in. But here what are we talking about? It would need massive, massive amounts of resources; probably more than the US Navy can provide”, the source said, cited by Axios.
According to the sources cited by Axios, the US Department of Defence was informed about Trump’s proposal and the Pentagon does not take the idea seriously, stressing that this project has no legal basis and, moreover, it would consume already overburdened Navy resources, which have already been stretched in Asia and in the Middle East, the US-based media outlet said.
Trump has no interest in conducting a military ground operation in Venezuela, according to Axios, citing senior administration officials. The US president, however, will keep increasing pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and look for creative ways to help self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido force Maduro out of power.
Trump is frustrated that the Venezuelan opposition failed to oust constitutionally-elected Maduro in April 2019, Axios said, Trump has, meanwhile, reportedly sought to strangle Maduro with escalating sanctions.
Venezuela has been rocked by unrest since January when Guaido proclaimed himself the country’s interim president and was recognized by the United States and dozens of other nations. Maduro, recognized by China and Russia among numerous other countries, has accused the United States of seeking to overthrow his government and install Guaido in a bid to get hold of Venezuela’s vast fossil fuel resources.
Guaido made a fresh attempt to depose Maduro on 30 April, staging a demonstration in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas. However, the attempt “failed completely,” as the Venezuelan government put it. The office of the Venezuelan prosecutor general requested 18 arrest warrants to be issued in connection with the coup attempt.
Notably, the US-based media outlet revealed Sunday, citing sources, that the head of Venezuela’s Constituent National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello – a member of Maduro’s inner circle – allegedly opened up a secret communication channel with Washington.
AP also reported Sunday, citing a US official, that Cabello allegedly met in July in the Venezuelan capital in Caracas with someone who is in close contact with the Trump administration.
An aid to Cabello has, however, rejected the notion that Cabello was somehow betraying Maduro, saying that Cabello would only meet with Americans with the permission of the Venezuelan president and if it contributes to lifting sanctions, AP reported, citing Cabello’s aide on the condition of anonymity.
According to Axios, citing sources, the Trump administration reportedly views Cabello as an important power broker, and some officials claim that the Venezuelan opposition’s April uprising would have allegedly succeeded if Cabello had been involved.