Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Saturday warned Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó against any attempt to authorize U.S. military force to strengthen his claim to power.
“Mr. Guaido, you can proclaim yourself leader of Venezuela but you don’t get to authorize US military interventions. Only the US Congress can do that. We will not,” Khanna tweeted.
The tweet came in response to an interview Guaidó gave on Friday in which he refused to rule out allowing U.S. forces to help push Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro from power, according to AFP.
Guaidó told AFP that he would do “everything that is necessary … to save human lives” while acknowledging that U.S. intervention is “a very controversial subject,” the outlet reported.
Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who describes himself as a “staunch voice for restraint in foreign policy,” slammed the Trump administration last month for recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
“The United States should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, divided conflict,” Khanna said in a statement last month.”There is no doubt the Maduro’s economic policies have been terrible, and he has engaged in financial mismanagement and also political authoritarianism. But crippling sanctions and threats of military action are making life worse for ordinary Venezuelans.”
Washington recognized Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as Venezuela’s interim president on Jan. 23. Canada, the Organization of American States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia all followed suit.
Yet Maduro, who Washington has slammed as a dictator whose policies have fueled food and medicine shortages in the country, has vowed to hold onto power. He was sworn in for a second six-year term earlier this month, but much of the international community, including the U.S., declared his election illegitimate.
The White House has implemented sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in an attempt to ramp up pressure on Maduro and said it intends to give Guaidó control over Venezuela’s foreign assets, though it is unclear if it will be able to seize the money.
While the administration has not announced any concrete plans to use force in the Latin American country, it has not ruled out military action in the future.
[Khanna] further stressed that it is not up to “neoconservative Defense Department officials” or “defense contractor lobbyists” to authorize interventions abroad either.
Congressman Khanna was reacting to earlier remarks made by US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, who didn’t rule out approving a US military intervention to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power in Venezuela. He told AFP that he would do “everything that is necessary” in order to “save human lives,” while acknowledging that the deployment of American soldiers is “a very controversial subject.”
The Trump administration’s belligerent rhetoric was met with pushback from a number of politicians. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said the US must “not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups.”
“Let the Venezuelan people determine their future,” Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard wrote, saying the US should “stay out.”
Nations such as Russia, China, and Iran continue to recognize Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The US’ open backing of the opposition is aimed at “exacerbating the division within the Venezuelan society,” which can lead to “chaos” and the “destruction of Venezuelan statehood,” the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry noted that “enduring peace” in Venezuela can only be achieved through dialogue and “political means.”
President Maduro told RT Spanish that the US made a “mistake” by getting behind the opposition. He said that he doesn’t believe a foreign intervention will actually take place, but the country has to be prepared, nonetheless. The government needs to ensure that military involvement would cost Washington “entirely too much.”