President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has warned nations seen as obstacles to U.S. plans for Latin America that they must leave Venezuela and stop defending the socialist government opposed by the Trump administration.
Venezuela’s economic crisis boiled over into a geopolitical flashpoint in January that has polarized world powers, as the U.S. and its allies proclaimed their support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s political challenge to President Nicolás Maduro. Responding to Tuesday’s Newsweek article discussing the recent arrival of Russian, Chinese and Iranian planes intended to support Maduro and his government, Bolton told radio host Hugh Hewitt that “President Trump is determined not to see Venezuela fall under the sway of foreign powers.”
Bolton praised President James Monroe’s 19th-century efforts to expel European colonial powers from the continent (known as the Monroe Doctrine) and President Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist crusade there in the 1980s—policies that greatly expanded the U.S. footprint in the region. He also railed against attempts by Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, to diplomatically court leftist Latin American leaders long targeted by U.S. foreign policy.
“If the Monroe Doctrine fails, if China and Russia, along with Cuba, establish domination over Venezuela, I think American strategic interests will be harmed,” Bolton said. “And as I said at the beginning, the people of Venezuela will be trapped in this dictatorship. We are seeing here the palpable proof of eight years of Obama administration policy mistakes.”
“Look, our objective is a peaceful transition of power to Juan Guaidó and the opposition,” Bolton said during Wednesday’s program. “But let’s not forget we’ve got between 40,000 to 50,000 American citizens in Venezuela.”
“We’ve got countries, as you mentioned, Colombia and Brazil on the border with millions of Venezuelan refugees who have come across. We’ve got terrorist organizations like the ELN [National Liberation Army] and FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] who threaten Colombia,” he added. “We’re going to protect American national interest, and Maduro and his cronies ought to know that President Trump is very serious when he says all options are on the table.”