Bolton: Most Venezuelan Service Members Are Against Maduro

Most members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces are against Nicolás Maduro, said White House National Security Advisor John Bolton in an interview with Voice of America.
Voice of America (VOA) | 3 September 2019

Transnational Threats

Venezuela’s opposition protest against the government with a sign that reads “Free Venezuela,” in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Development Programme in Caracas, July 5, 2019. (Photo: Cristian Hernandez, AFP)

Bolton confirmed that “some of the top officers who have benefited from the corruption that the Maduro regime has perpetrated” are preventing service members from supporting the interim government.

According to Bolton, top commanders close to Maduro “are like scorpions in a bottle. They don’t trust each other” because they know that “they’re all talking to the opposition.”

“If the military were really loyal to Maduro, they could have been called out to stop the opposition long ago,” he said.

The security advisor said that the Cuban presence in Venezuela was one of the reasons that extended the power dispute in the country. Noting that the National Assembly estimates that there are thousands of Cubans in Venezuela, Bolton said, “If those […] Cubans went home at noon today, by midnight Maduro would no longer be in power.”

Bolton also spoke about Russian and Chinese strategies in Venezuela. The security advisor sent a message to both powers: Because of their debt of “billions of dollars,” they must “be very careful” about their actions toward the disputed government.

“If a new government comes in and decides that that debt was illegally contracted, they could repudiate it,” he added. Venezuela owes China and Russia more than $25 billion, according to the Reuters news agency.

“If you want to take advantage of drilling Venezuelan oil, I think you need to look long and hard at what a new democratically elected government would think of anybody that supported the Maduro regime,” said the national security advisor.

Chevron, a U.S. corporation, is one of the few oil companies that continue to extract crude oil in Venezuela. However, it’s only licensed to operate in the country until October, due to the latest sanctions that the United States imposed on Venezuela, which freeze government assets abroad and make any U.S. or foreign national liable for prosecution for doing business with Venezuela.

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