RNA - “It is time for the Executive Branch to take important and necessary steps to further isolate Maduro and make clear to the world his regime’s illegality, criminality, and depravity,” Rubio urged, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, RT reported.
To increase pressure on Venezuela, Rubio, who has long been one of the most outspoken advocates of regime change in Caracas, proposed designating as a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) and a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) both the Maduro government and millions of members of the country’s pro-government citizen militias, known as ‘Colectivos’.
Despite the best efforts by the US and its allies to subjugate Venezuela, the army remains loyal to the Maduro government. The resolve of many Venezuelan citizens to support their elected leader, with arms if needed, also prevents the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido from easily taking power, Rubio believes.
On Friday, the US once again tightened the noose around Venezuelan oil exports, sanctioning around three dozen tankers and two companies which the Treasury says are involved in transporting oil from Caracas to Cuba. At the same time, Washington has acknowledged that its diplomatic and economic pressure options are running dry.
“There is also a military option, which President [Donald] Trump has said is on the table and remains on the table,” a senior administration official told reporters on Friday, adding that such a “very serious option...is seriously considered as events continue to unfold.”
On Friday, a high-ranking US administration official said during a phone briefing that the United States has been seriously considering the use of military force against Venezuela as diplomatic measures are becoming inefficient, according to TASS.
The United States’ diplomatic tools "continue to diminish due to Maduro’s recent actions", the official stated, adding, "These tools are diminishing, which is leaving us with increased economic tools and increased economic pressure <...> and also a military option, which, as President Trump has said, is on the table."
He noted that the military option was the result that "no one would like to see", but it remains "the one being seriously considered as events unfold".
"The European community, the United States and the Lima group have made it clear that the consequences of any harm that comes, or an arrest of Juan Guaido would be devastating to Maduro, it would be the worst and last mistake he makes, and, therefore, we are watching very closely," the official stressed.
He also called upon the armed forces of Venezeula "to uphold their constitutional duty to protect the Venezuelan people from the terrorist groups, known as the Collectivos", which he claimed had been called upon by Maduro with the purpose "to break the constitutionality of Venezuela, to violate the constitution and to repress Venezuelans".
US President Donald Trump earlier said his country has almost run out of economic and political options on Venezuela and was now considering the military scenario.
Vice President Mike Pence also wrote on twitter, "The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum. Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go."