BEDMINSTER, N.J., Reuters, Aug. 12, 2017 - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened military intervention in Venezuela, a surprise escalation in Washington's response to Venezuela's political crisis.
Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces looting weapons from a military base after a new legislative body usurped the authority of the opposition-controlled congress
'The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary,' Trump told reporters.
More than 120 people have been killed in Venezuela and thousands arrested in over four months of unrest. The government in Caracas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's threat.
Venezuelan authorities have long said U.S. officials were planning an invasion. A former military general told Reuters earlier this year that some anti-aircraft missiles had been placed along the country's coast for precisely that eventuality.
In Washington, the Pentagon said the U.S. military was ready to support efforts to protect U.S. citizens and America's national interests, but that insinuations by Caracas of a planned U.S. invasion were 'baseless.'
Trump's suggestion of possible military action came in a week when he has repeatedly threatened a military response if North Korea threatens the United States or its allies.
Asked if U.S. forces would lead an operation in Venezuela, Trump declined to provide details. 'We don't talk about it but a military operation - a military option - is certainly something that we could pursue,' he said.