BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump said Friday that he is “not going to rule out a military option” to confront the autocratic government of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in the South American country.
“They have many options for Venezuela — and, by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump told reporters at his private golf club in New Jersey on Friday evening. “…We’re all over the world, and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”
When asked by a reporter whether this military option would be led by the United States, Trump responded: “We don’t talk about it, but a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”
Venezuela is edging toward the economic brink after an internationally condemned election last month created an all-powerful legislature loyal to Maduro. The government is sharply intensifying its crackdown on dissent, issuing arrest warrants for rebellious mayors, targeting unfriendly politicians and menacing average citizens who speak their minds.
Since the July 30 vote, the value of the local currency, the bolívar, has fluctuated more wildly than ever, a significant feat for a country saddled with the world’s highest inflation rate. As a result, street prices for staples such as bread and tomatoes have doubled in less than two weeks. New estimates from the large Venezuelan data firm Ecoanalítica suggest that the economy could shrink 10.4 percent this year, exacerbating a four-year nose dive that some economists already call worse than the United States’ Great Depression.
Potentially more dangerous, analysts say, is the prospect of a sovereign debt crisis that could bring the country to a whole new level of economic pain.