Trump calls on Venezuelan military to support opposition leader Juan Guaido
President Donald Trump said on Monday that “a new day is coming in Latin America,” as he sought to rally support among the largest Venezuelan community in the U.S. for opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Speaking at Florida International University in Miami before large American and Venezuelan flags, Trump said the U.S. stands behind Guaido, whom the U.S. recognizes as the country’s rightful president, and condemns President Nicolas Maduro’s government and its socialist policies.
As the months long political crisis stretched on, Trump delivered a public plea to Venezuela’s military to support Guaido’s government. The Venezuelan military could play a decisive role in the stalemate but has largely remained loyal to Maduro. Trump issued a dire warning to Venezuela’s military that if they continue to stand with Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
Trump added: “We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.”
The military has blocked the U.S. from moving tons of humanitarian aid airlifted in recent days to the Colombian border with Venezuela. The aid shipments have been meant in part to dramatize the hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine that are gripping Venezuela. Trump said of Maduro, “He would rather see his people starve than give them aid.”
Critics say Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent, making his second term illegal.
Trump urged the Venezuelan military to accept Guaido’s offer of amnesty and refrain from violence against those opposing Maduro’s government. And he praised the Venezuelan opposition, saying of the people of Venezuela, “They are turning the page on dictatorship and there will be no going back.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier Monday that the U.S. “knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world.”
Shortly after Trump ended his speech, he tweeted, “I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!”