Apparently, President Trump’s offhanded remarks about sending tanks to Venezuela were more than just a scare tactic. Trump reportedly asked a group of senior administration officials why the US couldn’t simply invade Venezuela during a meeting in the Oval Office, according to the New York Post. The meeting was called to discuss sanctions against members of the Venezuelan regime.
Trump’s suggestion shocked members of his administration who were in the room, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former national security adviser HR McMaster. Months later, Trump was told by his aides not to mention his invasion suggestion during private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. But he did it anyway, surprising members of his staff. Trump also raised the idea with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
McMaster was reportedly among the advisors who explained to the president that a strike against Venezuela could jeopardize US support with other Latin American governments that have also condemned Maduro’s treatment of his political opposition. Still, Trump persisted, bringing up the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.
The day after the meeting, Trump publicly raised the possibility of a “military option” for ending the unrest in Venezuela.
“We are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away,” the president said. “Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”
Within days, Maduro organized a rally that filled the street’s of Caracas with government loyalists, who condemned “Emperor Trump’s” aggressive rhetoric.
Since Trump’s inauguration, the US, Canada and Europe have levied sanctions on dozens of senior government officials, including Maduro, over allegations of corruption, drug trafficking and human rights abuses.