Having slapped several rounds of sanctions on Venezuela, President Donald Trump has said that the next step for the US could be increasing pressure on the South American country by imposing a blockade or quarantine.
Trump made the off-hand remark, which may mean tons of additional hardship for the people of crisis-hit Venezuela, after he was asked by a reporter at the White House lawn if he has been considering a blockade or a quarantine of the Latin American country, “given the amount of foreign involvement from Russia, China, and Iran.”
‘Yes, I am,” the US president responded, without elaborating. The curt response prompted the journalist to ask again, only for Trump to triple down: “Yes, I am. Yes. Yes, I am.”
It was the first time Trump broached the subject of an actual blockade of Venezuela. Since recognizing self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido in January, Washington has unleashed a crackdown on Venezuela’s state-owned oil industry, banking sector and individual officials, while pressuring third countries such as Cuba, who had chosen to stand by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, into withdrawing their support.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month called on “every foreign power” to leave Venezuela, so the Venezuelan people can “take back” the country and rebuild it in a way acceptable for the US. By “foreign powers,” Pompeo meant Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, which do not recognize Guaido’s Washington-invested authority.
Washington has been openly pushing for regime change in Venezuela, but so far Guaido has not prevailed, with a botched coup attempt on April 30 showing a lack of support for him among the military.