May 13 (UPI) — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido wants “direct” cooperation with the U.S. military in his bid to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power.
At a rally Saturday in Caracas, Venezuela’s National Assembly president said he will send his envoy in Washington, D.C., Carlos Vecchio, to meet with Southern Command officials. The Florida-based command oversees U.S. military activity in Latin America and the Caribbean,
Guaido told the supporters he wants “to be able to establish a direct and far-reaching relationship in terms of cooperation.”
Adm. Craig Faller, the head of the Southern Command, posted on Twitter he is willing to meet with officials with the “legitimate” government of Venezuela.
“When invited by @jguaido & the legitimate gov’t of #Venezuela, I look forward to discussing how we can support the future role of those @ArmadaFANB leaders who make the right decision, put the Venezuela people first & restore constitutional order. We stand ready! #EstamosUnidosVE”
Guaido hasn’t directly asked for an invasion, but he sees it as an option against the aggressive crackdown from the Maduro regime.
He told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper on Friday he “would probably accept” an intervention if the United States proposed it. The Trump administration has said all options “are on the table.”
On Saturday, Maduro’s government said that the U.S. is “promoting, organizing, and financing” actions designed “to produce a change of government by force,” state-backed Telesur TV reported.
In January, Guaido invoked Venezuela’s constitution and launched an interim government after Maduro was re-elected for another six-year term in an election seen as rigged.
“Guaido’s suggestion that the United States intervene is a fool’s errand,” David L. Phillips, the director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, wrote in a commentary for Newsday. “A more subtle and nuanced approach would put pressure on Maduro without galvanizing popular support against American ‘imperialism.’ ”
The opposition hasn’t been able to generate major support within the military to topple Maduro.
Since a failed coup on April 30, Maduro has cracked down on Guaido’s supporters. That includes jailing National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano on Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court stripped Zambrano of parliamentary immunity, allowing for his arrest.
And he hasn’t generated massive support from civilians. On Saturday, his call for major street demonstrations drew small crowds.