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Trump repeatedly suggested invading Venezuela, stunning top aides

05 July 2018

The idea, despite his aides' best attempts to shoot it down, persisted in the president's head.

Maduro said these reports back up his long-standing assertion that the USA is planning a military attack against Venezuela to seize its vast oil reserves.

Surrounded by his top military aides in a White House meeting less than a year ago, the Associated Press on Wednesday reports that President Donald Trump wanted to know why the USA military couldn't "just simply invade" the country of Venezuela.

The president later discussed the same question with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and other regional leaders at multiple occasions, according to the same report.

The proposal was first suggested last August, when the White House considered imposing sanctions against the regime. But a National Security Council spokesman reiterated that the US will consider all options at its disposal to help restore Venezuela's democracy and bring stability.

Their arguments do not seem to have dissuaded the president. Hyperinflation has made the local currency, the bolívar, virtually worthless.

Venezuela's inflation rose above the 41,000% mark last month, and the United Nations human rights office declared a breakdown of law and order in the country, citing reports that security forces had killed hundreds of anti-government demonstrators while protecting alleged criminals from prosecution. Repaying its debts has become increasingly hard for Venezuela as exports or transactions have either been slowed down or entirely stopped.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 4, 2017.

For about five minutes, those assembled - including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster - told Trump that an invasion could backfire and would likely anger Latin American leaders, the official said.

Mark Feierstein, who oversaw Latin America on the National Security Council during the Obama administration, said: "The concern is that [Trump] raised expectations among Venezuelans, many of whom are waiting for an external actor to save them". The 1954 CIA-supported toppling of Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz, for instance, led to the Guatemalan civil war and a succession of authoritarian juntas.

McMaster finally succeeding in persuading Trump of the dangers of an invasion, the report said, and the president's interest in the notion subsided.

However, Grenada has a population of about 90,000, compared to more than 30 million Venezuelans.

President Trump's alleged comments on military intervention are drawing a response from his Venezuelan counterpart. Only 20 percent of Venezuelans said last spring that they felt confident the USA president would make the right foreign affairs decisions.

Trump repeatedly suggested invading Venezuela, stunning top aides