Trump’s Talk of ‘Military Option’ on Venezuela Threatens Regional Diplomatic Progress

Washington, DC—Last night, President Donald Trump responded to a question on Venezuela by warning that his administration is considering “a possible military option” to address the country’s crisis. As an organization that has consistently advocated for a peaceful, democratic resolution of the situation in Venezuela, WOLA (the Washington Office on Latin America) is alarmed by President Trump’s remarks.

“This represents a major escalation and threatens to undermine diplomatic efforts to address Venezuela’s crisis, led by governments in Latin America. While a growing group of countries in the Americas have taken serious steps to pressure the Venezuelan government to abandon its authoritarian slide, President Trump’s suggestion that the United States might exercise a military option appears to dismiss these efforts,” said WOLA Associate for Venezuela Geoff Ramsey.

Representatives of 12 countries in the hemisphere issued a joint declaration from Lima, Peru, on August 8 in which they collectively agreed not to recognize the country’s illegitimate Constituent Assembly, a decision that focuses diplomatic pressure on restoring Venezuela’s democratic institutions. They also agreed to support a ban on arms transfers to the country, among other measures meant to achieve a “peaceful and negotiated solution” to the crisis.

“It’s hard to imagine a worse time for Trump to make this threat. Venezuela’s government has routinely used the specter of U.S. aggression as a justification for actions that violate democratic principles, and this remark will only reinforce their ant-imperialist rhetoric. What’s more, threatening military action is a completely inappropriate pressure tactic. There is a serious risk of triggering processes both in Venezuela and the United States that actually lead to an intervention that was only meant as a threat,” said WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde.

WOLA calls on the countries that signed the Lima Declaration, as well as the Venezuelan opposition and civil society organizations, to make clear to the Trump Administration that they do not support threats of military intervention as a pressure tactic.

For more resources and analysis on Venezuela’s crisis, see WOLA’s Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights blog. Recent posts include:

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Contact:
Loren Riesenfeld
WOLA Communications Officer
[email protected]
202-797-2171