US President Donald Trump has once again thrown his support behind the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, warning that members of the country’s military would be risking their future and their lives by remaining loyal to President Nicolas Maduro and refusing to allow in the so-called humanitarian aid blocked at the Colombian border.
Trump made the remarks during a speech at Florida International University in the US city of Miami on Monday.
“We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open,” the US president claimed, calling on the Venezuelan military to either accept Guaido’s amnesty offer or stand to “lose everything.”
“You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything,” Trump said, referring to Venezuela’s pro-Maduro military personnel. “I have a message for every official who is helping to keep Maduro in place. The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day and every day in the future.”
Trump also claimed that “the days of socialism and communism are numbered,” blaming “Maduro dictatorship” for all of Venezuela’s woes.
Trump had previously claimed that he could use military force to help Washington-backed opposition in the Latin American country to topple the democratically-elected government of Maduro.
This is while the European Union’s foreign policy chief has said the bloc will strongly reject any military intervention in the oil-rich country.
Venezuela has been in political turmoil over the past weeks, with the opposition blaming Maduro for an ailing economy, hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of basic items, and urging him to resign.
The 56-year-old president has repeatedly accused the US administration of using the Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis as a cover-up for his military plans in the country.
The political crisis deepened in the country on January 23, when opposition figure Juan Guaido, a lawmaker who leads the defunct National Assembly, proclaimed himself the “interim president” of Venezuela.
The American head of state was quick to officially recognize him as such, announcing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil exports, the government’s main source of revenue.
The US has since confiscated Venezuelan state assets in America, including a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company, to channel them to Guaido.
Some major Western powers such as the UK, France, Spain, and Germany have also recognized Guaido as interim president, a move seen by Caracas and others as interference in its domestic affairs.
Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran, among other countries, have however supported the elected government of Maduro, warning against foreign meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
Guaido has set a February 23 deadline for the entry of the US-supplied package to the South American country while Maduro has already ordered the military to block it at the Colombian border.
Maduro, who enjoys the critical support of the military, has accused Guaido of staging a US-engineered coup against him, and has severed diplomatic relations with Washington.