“I’m not going to rule out a military option, we have many options for Venezuela,” the president said on Friday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, calling the current situation there “a mess.”
Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense said it “has not received any orders with regards to Venezuela.”
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, “The military conducts contingency planning for a variety of situations. If called upon, we are prepared to support … government efforts to protect our national interests and safeguard US citizens.”
Pahon also said that “any insinuations by” Venezuela that the US is “planning an invasion are baseless.”
Venezuela has been reeling from unrest for several months in a crisis caused by political disagreements — including on the formation of the National Constituent Assembly — and shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation.
The opposition says the leftist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is to blame for the crisis, but the government accuses foreign powers and “right-wing terrorists” for the unrest.
Maduro has reiterated that the assembly held supreme powers over all the three branches of the government.
Washington slammed Caracas for the establishment of the assembly, calling the institution “illegitimate” and in service of a “dictator.”
On July 17, Trump said Maduro “dreams of becoming a dictator,” noting that “the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.”
The Venezuelan government held an election on July 30 and the ruling socialist party won the vote.
The day after election, the US slapped sanctions on Maduro and broadened the sanctions later this week by imposing bans against several members of the assembly.
On Thursday, Maduro vowed to stand up to the US for its “imperialistic” behavior.
“We will never cede to foreign powers,” he said in a speech at the assembly and added that Trump had to end his “imperialist aggression” toward Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Peru has decided to expel Venezuela’s ambassador to Lima in condemnation of Venezuela’s new legislative superbody.
The ambassador, Diego Molero, has five days to leave Peru, the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Friday.