How much more US "pressure" can be brought to bear on Venezuela after Washington early this year went so far as to back a failed military coup attempt? Perhaps the Syria treatment: after covert war comes the long "blockade" and economic squeeze precipitating total societal collapse. Perhaps this is what the White House now has in mind after mainstream media attention on Venezuela and its 'alt-president' Juan Guaido has dropped off a cliff, via Reuters:
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was considering a quarantine or blockade of Venezuela, as the United States steps up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to relinquish power.
Is this in addition to the near total oil blockade on state-owned PDVSA? No details were given in the Thursday statement in terms of what such a "quarantine" or "blockade" would look like.
However, an interesting reference to powerful external backers of the Maduro government was made, bringing up the possibility of a "proxy war" situation developing, as we've discussed previously. Reuters continued:
Asked by a reporter whether he was considering such a measure, given the amount of involvement by China and Iran in Venezuela, Trump said: “Yes, I am.” He gave no details.
And there it is. While confirmation has remained murky, over the past months there's been widespread reports of Chinese and Russian military advisers working with the Venezuelan national forces.
Many observers, however, consider recent Trump administration claims of a deep and extensive Hezbollah presence inside the Latin American socialist country a stretch. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly made the charge since at least February.
A month ago Pompeo told Fox Business, “People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells” in the country. “The Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America. We have an obligation to take down that risk for America,” he said.
It's unclear what it would mean for the US to "take down that risk" — but Trump has expressed an unwillingness for "military options" in Venezuela, even recently saying he was "bored" with meddling in such a complex geopolitical climate, according to reports.
Trump's new comments in response to "China and Iran" being in Venezuela appear to be a continuation of this "Hezbollah presence" theme. For now, it appears Hezbollah could be for Venezuela what WMD was for Iraq under the Bush administration: a pretext for extreme sanctions and eventual war.