13 August, 2017
Tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela ratcheted up on Friday with threats from the White House of possible military action, even as lawmakers in President Donald Trump's Republican Party urged him not to sanction the Opec member. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying.
Marco Rubio, Trump appears to have taken a personal interest in Venezuela and even met at the White House with the wife of a prominent jailed opposition leader.
In response, the White House said Mr Trump would gladly speak to his Venezuelan counterpart, when democracy had been restored in the country.
"We reject the cowardly, insolent and vile threats" of Trump against "the sacred sovereignty of Venezuela", Delcy Rodriguez, president of the assembly, wrote on Twitter.
Regional alliance Mercosur added that it rejected the use of force against Venezuela, despite having indefinitely suspended the country last week amid global condemnation of Maduro's new, all-powerful "constituent Assembly".
"The United States condemns the actions of the Maduro dictatorship".
In an address to that assembly, Maduro expressed a desire to have a dialogue with Trump .
But Trump's latest comments were the first sign that he is mulling military intervention. Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who has led Latin America in taking on Maduro, recalled the country's ambassador to Caracas after the government-packed supreme court took steps to shut down congress, which is controlled by Venezuela's opposition.
The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela after a July 30 vote that allowed Maduro to replace the opposition-dominated National Assembly with a new 545-member Constituent Assembly filled with his supporters.
Maduro has reached out to Trump on more than one occasion, but his unwillingness to return to a more democratic government in Venezuela is likely to prevent that from happening.
All this served as the backdrop for the reconvening of the National Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, Aug 9, where the topic of discussion was one of paramount importance: the struggle to diversify, strengthen, and address the character of Venezuela's economy in the face of the economic war waged by the national and worldwide forces of austerity, neoliberalism and counter-revolution.
"You've seen Maduro have some lame attempts to try to do that already", McMaster said in an interview that aired last Saturday on MSNBC.
Mr. Trump made the comments in a tweet early Friday from a working vacation at his golf course in New Jersey.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated that a new constitution would help resolve the nation's political standoff.