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Lawmaker: US Military Intervention in Venezuela 'Not an Option'
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50157"><span class="small">Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu, Reuters</span></a>   
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 14:05

Excerpt: "Congress will not support U.S. military intervention in Venezuela despite hints by President Donald Trump that such action had not been ruled out, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday."

House Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel. (photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
House Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel. (photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)


Lawmaker: US Military Intervention in Venezuela 'Not an Option'

By Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu, Reuters

13 February 19

 

ongress will not support U.S. military intervention in Venezuela despite hints by President Donald Trump that such action had not been ruled out, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday.

“I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option,” U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said at the opening of a hearing on the volatile political situation in the OPEC nation.

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has to approve foreign military action.

Engel also warned about the possible effects on the Venezuelan people of U.S. sanctions on state oil company PDVSA. The United States in January imposed sanctions aimed at limiting President Nicolas Maduro’s access to oil revenue.

“I appreciate the need to squeeze Maduro,” Engel said. “But the White House must think through the potential repercussions that these sanctions could have on the Venezuelan people if Maduro does not leave office in the coming weeks.”

Venezuela already faces chronic food and medical supply shortages, hyperinflation and severe economic contraction.

The head of the country’s National Assembly legislature, Juan Guaido, invoked a constitutional provision to assume the presidency three weeks ago, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.

Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, but Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China, as well as control of state institutions including the military.

Trump’s pick to lead U.S. efforts on Venezuela, former U.S. diplomat Elliott Abrams, said Washington would keep up pressure on Maduro and his inner circle by “a variety of means.”

“But we will also provide off-ramps to those who will do what is right for the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Asked about a Wall Street Journal report that Guaido has held debt negotiations with Chinese officials in Washington, Abrams said there had been some discussions but he was unaware of any formal talks. Beijing has denied it held any talks with Venezuela’s opposition to protect its investments.

“I don’t believe there are any negotiations, using that term narrowly. Discussions, sending of messages have taken place,” Abrams said.

China has lent more than $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, securing energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.

Abrams drew intermittent protests at the start of the hearing. “You are a convicted criminal!” one man shouted before being escorted out of the room.

Abrams, assistant secretary of state during the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, was convicted in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. He was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Representative Joaquin Castro asked Abrams if he was aware of any transfers of weapons or defense equipment by the U.S. government to groups in Venezuela opposed to Maduro. Abrams responded that he was not.

“I ask this question because you have a record of such actions,” Castro said. “Can we trust your testimony today?”

Representative Ilhan Omar discussed U.S. support for anti-communists in Central America during the Cold War and cited Abrams’ initial dismissal of reports of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador as left-wing propaganda.

“Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they serve the U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua?” Omar asked.

“I am not going to respond to that question,” Abrams replied. He called her questioning a personal attack.

Abrams also drew intermittent outbursts from protesters at the hearing. “You are a convicted criminal!” one man shouted before being escorted out.

PRESSURE ON MADURO

Abrams said Washington would keep up pressure on Maduro and his inner circle by “a variety of means.”

“But we will also provide off-ramps to those who will do what is right for the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Engel warned about the possible effects on the Venezuelan people of U.S. sanctions on state oil company PDVSA. The United States in January imposed sanctions aimed at limiting Maduro’s access to oil revenue.

“I appreciate the need to squeeze Maduro,” Engel said. “But the White House must think through the potential repercussions that these sanctions could have on the Venezuelan people if Maduro does not leave office in the coming weeks.”

Panel witnesses described a devastating humanitarian situation. Steve Olive of the U.S. Agency for International Development said hospitals faced drastically reduced supplies, there were concerns about the power grid and rising reports of malnutrition.

“The situation is deteriorating on a daily basis,” he said.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:29
 

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+8 # DongiC 2019-02-13 18:19
Watch out, Venezuela, you have incurred the wrath of an angry giant. This one has a bloody past in Central America and it still has a thirst for petroleum. It has power to burn and is not afraid to use it. Further, it has appointed a known criminal, Elliot Abrams, to orchestrate relations between you and the United States. I seriously doubt if your association with China and Russia will deliver you from the carnage that is coming. Perhaps, the only thing that will save you is civil conflict in the US. Maybe, Trump and his allies will slug it out with nuclear weapons thus delivering Venezuela from a deadly kind of evil.
Maybe, America's day of reckoning is also on the near horizon.
 
 
0 # bardphile 2019-02-14 15:19
What "need to squeeze Maduro."?? Why not drop the sanctions and work with people in and out of V to have new free elections, closely monitored, and agree to respect the results.