National security advisor to US president Donald Trump, John Bolton has triggered an unusual way speculation about a possible military intervention of the United States in Venezuela. On the verge of a White House press conference, Bolton showed up on Monday afternoon with a notepad he held so that the handwritten notes on it for attendees were well read.
Only two short lines were scribbled on the large block of yellow paper. In the first line was a short note to the recent talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the second line then the following: “5000 soldiers to Colombia”. In view of the severe crisis in neighboring Venezuela, the image of Bolton’s notes promptly sparked discussions.
In Venezuela, an open power struggle raging between President Nicolas Maduro and the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido. The American government has aggressively defeated Guaido and has been threatening for days to set every conceivable diplomatic and economic lever in motion to force Maduro to retreat.
Will the US now intervene militarily in Venezuela and prepare this by moving troops to Colombia? So far, the US government has not explicitly wanted to exclude military action. Trump said, “All options are on the table.”
Is Bolton’s quasi-note in the cameras so the – very idiosyncratic – way to make such a military operation in prospect, or at least more threatening than so far with it? The Ministry of Defense did not want to comment on Monday evening on request and referred to the White House. From there it was terse but telling, looking at the Bolton note: “As the President said, all options are on the table.”
At the White House press conference, which Bolton also attended, the government just announced sanctions against Venezuela’s important oil sector.
Venezuelan President Maduro has meanwhile announced measures against US sanctions against the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Maduro said on state television on Monday that he had instructed the corporate management to take legal action before US and international courts. It was about “defending” the ownership and wealth of the PDVSA subsidiary Citgo operating in the United States.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously announced new sanctions against PDVSA and increased pressure on Maduro. The sanctions against the oil company should therefore remain in force until a transitional government or a democratically elected government in the South American country is in office. The PDVSA subsidiary Citgo, which operates in the United States, may, according to Mnuchin, continue its business. However, the revenue must go to a blocked account in US.
Maduro said the United States wanted to “rob” Citgo of the Venezuelans. “This is an illegal way.” Oil is the main source of revenue and foreign exchange for Venezuela, shaken by a severe economic crisis.