‘We haven’t seen Russians in Western Hemisphere this strongly since Cuban missile crisis’: Rep. McCaul

0
91



The spiraling political crisis in Venezuela has drawn Russia into the Western Hemisphere on a scale not seen since the Cuban missile crisis, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Wednesday on “America’s Newsroom.”McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is doubtful that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is on the verge of leaving the country because of reports that the Russian government exhorted him to stay.”The Russians persuaded him to stay in Venezuela,” McCaul said. “We haven’t seen the Russians in the Western Hemisphere this strongly since the Cuban missile crisis, with military assets. They would love nothing more than to poke us in the eye.”Nevertheless, McCaul said that reports that Maduro had been on the verge of fleeing Venezuela were remarkable.”We had the top three intelligence officials, and the head of the Supreme Court, basically take [Leopoldo] Lopez, who is the opposition leader, out of custody,” the congressman said. “So the idea that Maduro [was] going to a tarmac to fly out of Venezuela to Havana is extremely significant.”U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Cuba and Russia of acting as a sort of life support for the embattled Maduro government.“The Kremlin is standing with its Venezuelan cronies,” Pompeo said in March, according to the New York Times, “against the will of the people of a sovereign nation to protect a Moscow-friendly regime.”TRUMP THREATENS CUBA WITH ‘FULL AND COMPLETE’ EMBARGOMcCaul echoed the notion that the Russians, as well as the Cubans, are acting against the will of the Venezuelan people.”We have the Cuban security forces and the Russians propping up Maduro,” he said, “fighting the forces of democracy and free and fair elections.”The Trump administration quickly declared enthusiastic support Tuesday for the Venezuelan opposition effort to spark a military uprising against Maduro, hoping for decisive action in the political crisis that has engulfed the South American nation.Late in the day, President Donald Trump threatened a “full and complete embargo” and sanctions on Cuba if its troops do not cease operations in Venezuela. National Security Adviser John Bolton alleged earlier that Cuban troops were keeping Maduro in power in Caracas. The U.S. has said about 20,000 Cubans provide security assistance to the Maduro government. Cuba denies that and says most of those people are medical workers.Trump and senior foreign policy figures in his administration all weighed in on Tuesday, casting the effort headed by opposition leaders Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez as a move to restore democracy, not an attempted coup like the short-lived effort to oust then-President Hugo Chavez in 2002 that seemed to have U.S. support.The U.S. and about 50 other nations take the position that Maduro’s re-election last year was irrevocably marred by fraud and he is not the legitimate president of Venezuela, a once prosperous nation that has the world’s largest proven oil reserves.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPIn January, the administration took the unusual step of recognizing Guaido, the opposition leader of the National Assembly, as interim president. It also imposed punishing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector, deepening the country’s economic crisis.McCaul said that a “military option is on the table,” but stressed “it is the last option we want to exercise.””We want to put more sanctions, more pressure. The president also talked about an embargo on Venezuela. We have to do all these things first.””I would argue that it is the Colombians and Brazilians and Argentinians and Lima group that need to lead this effort,” McCaul said. “The people of Venezuela are standing up against this socialist dictator. This is what a socialist dictator does to his country. He has destroyed the most successful country in Latin America.”The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY