Despite Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro emerging victorious after last year's tumultuous events, which included a US assisted coup attempt by a faction of the military last Spring, out of which Washington also maintained a diplomatic fiction that opposition leader Juan Guaidó is actually the president, it appears the White House is still considering military options against Maduro.
Bloomberg reports "President Donald Trump is frustrated that pressure is building too slowly on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and is still considering military options in the country, including a naval blockade, a senior administration official said."
Apparently the current sanctions regimen and attempt to block all oil exports, which has seen the US go after major oil companies still doing business with state-run PDVSA (most recently sanctioning a subsidiary of Russian state oil major Rosneft), is not putting swift or severe enough pressure on the Maduro government.
The goal remains, the unnamed top official told Bloomberg, "securing free and fair elections in Venezuela" — which in Washington-speak really means ensuring US-backed Guaidó secures loyalty of the military and thereby leadership over the country. "The U.S. doesn’t believe that free elections are possible with Maduro in power," the official said further.
The report names Spain as a key European barrier to the US and EU campaign to ouster Maduro. Several new initiatives are being undertaken keep keep up and increase the pressure, however, as Bloomberg notes:
The U.S. has put several companies that continue to do business in Venezuela on notice, the official said, including India’s Reliance Industries, Spain’s Repsol, Chevron and Greek shippers. Trump is likely to raise the issue of India’s oil imports from Venezuela with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a two-day visit next week, the official said Friday in a briefing for reporters.
Trump's perhaps most aggressive plan of action remains a "naval blockade" of all goods going in and out of the country, which gained a lot of media coverage last August.
The president had frequently vocalized the idea of a naval embargo which would involve multiple warships stationed up and down the South American country's coastline.
But top US military officers were said to have consistently opposed the plan, saying it was impractical and would take away already stretched naval resources busy engaging Iran and China.
The White House has further been deeply frustrated that the Venezuelan opposition, which failed to deliver results after a months-long standoff last year and with full Washington support that even likely included covert aid via the CIA.