Venezuela’s Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello stated that U.S. Marines are “likely” to invade the country, but he warned that leaving won’t be easy.
The Venezuelan politician followed up at the Sao Paulo Forum on Saturday with a threat towards the U.S. Marine Corps, telling activists and left-wing politicians that if U.S. Marines invade, “Their problem will be getting out of Venezuela,” according to Reuters.
“We are few, a small country, we are very humble, and here it is likely that the U.S. Marines enter,” Cabello said. “It is likely that they enter.”
Cabello’s comments come just a week after a confrontation between U.S. and Venezuelan military aircraft.
“#Venezuela SU-30 Flanker ‘aggressively shadowed’ a U.S. EP-3 aircraft at an unsafe distance July 19, jeopardizing the crew & aircraft,” The U.S. Southern Command official Twitter account wrote in a tweet on July 21. “The EP-3 was performing a multi-nationally recognized & approved mission in international airspace over #CaribbeanSea.”
1 of 2 JUST RELEASED #Venezuela SU-30 Flanker “aggressively shadowed” a U.S. EP-3 aircraft at an unsafe distance July 19, jeopardizing the crew & aircraft. The EP-3 was performing a multi-nationally recognized & approved mission in international airspace over #CaribbeanSea. pic.twitter.com/edjmPqXbmP
— U.S. Southern Command (@Southcom) July 21, 2019
Tensions between the Socialist Party in Venezuela and the United States are on the rise after a May 2018 presidential election in Venezuela was described as undemocratic by the White House and other western powers.
After the Venezuelan election, the United States recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido of the National Assembly as the rightful winner, not the incumbent President Nicolas Maduro of the Socialist Party.
Other western democracies, such as Britain, Germany, France and Spain, recognize Guaido as the legitimate president, as Reuters previously reported in January. Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and Syria are backing Maduro.
In January, the Trump Administration described Maduro’s claim to the presidency as fraudulent. National Security Advisor John Bolton stated in a press release in January that the election “was viewed internationally as not free, fair or credible.”
“We hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for the safety of all Venezuelans who cry out demanding to freely choose their leaders,” Bolton added. “We will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of a Venezuelan democracy that reverses the current constitutional crisis.”
Additionally, President Trump has voiced his support for Guaido and publicly criticized the Maduro regime.
“It’s a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that,” Trump said at the U.N. General Assembly on September 25. “It’s a truly bad place in the world today.”
Over the past two years, the Trump Administration has instituted a number of sanctions on Venezuela and the Maduro regime as a response to certain activities, including drug and human trafficking, human rights violations, terrorism and corruption.
On June 28, the U.S. Treasury Department said it would issue sanctions on Maduro’s son, Nicolás Maduro Guerra, who heads the Corps of the Special Inspectors of the Presidency.
“Maduro relies on his son Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.