How did Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro respond to being added to Trump’s travel ban? He told his generals to prepare for war! Maduro urged Venezuelan military leaders to begin making preparations for war with America just two days after Trump added Venezuelan officials to the travel ban. Maduro urged generals to get guns, tanks and missiles ready to defend every inch of their territory.
Why was Venezuela added? The Trump administration says it is because the country’s leaders have failed to cooperate with the United States. Specifically, Venezuela is being called out for not participating in the sharing of terrorism-related information and other public safety information.
North Korea was also added for good measure, but since North Koreans rarely leave their own country, it won’t have much effect. It’s simply a symbolic move in the rising tension between the U.S. and North Korea.
But the ban does impact Venezuela in a fairly significant way. Citizens can come in, but specific Venezuelan government officials and their families cannot. Trump had harsh words for Venezuela during his recent United Nations speech. The American president said that the United States “cannot stand by and watch” Maduro ruin his country, and that Americans will help Venezuelans get their country back.
The relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela has been declining for the last two decades. A few years ago, in 2008, Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with the Americans. Two years ago, during the Obama administration, Venezuela was declared a national security threat. More recently, shortly after taking office, Trump imposed sanctions, such as preventing loans to the Venezuelan government or to its state-run oil company PDVSA.
Trump also used the two words that no world leader wants to hear (or maybe just the sane ones)—“military options.” The United States has criticized Maduro’s presidency, saying that the election was staged to look democratic, and calling out Maduro as a dictator. His daily dress of choice is a green uniform, complete with military hat.
Venezuela has a history of tremendous political unrest. Military coups attempts are frequent. There are violent anti-establishment demonstrations across the country. Despite all this, Maduro has stayed at the helm of power.
Maduro and his son have both openly criticized Trump. They have spoken out against the sanctions, saying, “The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution,” Maduro said. In mid-August, they said that if Trump dared to defile their homeland, Venezuelan rifles would show up in New York. They even said their military would storm the White House. “We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said Maduro.
Maduro is probably bluffing. He doesn’t have a large enough military to take on the United States. But Venezuela seems to have an ally in Russia. The country has been on Maduro’s side for most of this year, and has even suggested that Trump was planning an invasion of the city of Caracas.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also joined Maduro in speaking out against the sanctions. “We are strongly against unilateral sanctions against sovereign states. We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses. We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people,” according to ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
It is unlikely that any event will unseat Maduro from his throne of power. There are always rumors of military coups, but Maduro has tremendous backing by the military, so a coup is likely to be bloody and unsuccessful. Venezuela is in dire economic misery, and many around the world have hoped that a default on their numerous loans would force a change of power.
But in an article by Bloomberg Politics, experts say even that is unlikely to unseat Maduro. Historically, missed payments haven’t forced a change of power in many countries. Maduro was put in power by the military, so he doesn’t have to even listen to voters. He is likely to stay in power through it all, and weather any storm.