Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has told his country’s military to prepare for war with the United States as the White House continues to impose sanctions against his increasingly authoritarian regime.
“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, wearing an olive green uniform and a military hat. “We need to have rifles, missiles, and well-oiled tanks at the ready … to defend every inch of the territory if need be.”
“It is time for work, time for dedication, time for training, it is time to prepare, it is time to secure every inch of our land,” he continued.
Maduro made the declaration during a military parade in the city of Maracay this week, two days after White House announced further travel restrictions on Venezuelan government officials and their families.
It remains unlikely that Venezuela could pose any serious military threat to the United States, given the growing disunity within its ranks and health of its soldiers, many of whom are suffering from malnutrition as a result of the socialist country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.
In August, a group of men identifying themselves as Venezuelan soldiers published a video on social media calling for a “legitimate rebellion” against the Maduro regime, while a military sergeant also called on his fellow soldiers to attack Maduro if the opportunity presented itself:
— Marco Ferreira (@mferreiratorres) August 6, 2017
In recent months, the Trump administration has continued to exert pressure against the Maduro regime, which consolidated its power in August through the creation of a fraudulent lawmaking body known as the “national constituent assembly,” filled exclusively with pro-government stooges without any sort of democratic mandate.
Previous sanctions include a ban on Americans from dealing in Venezuelan government debt or that of its state-run oil company, as well as personal sanctions placed against Maduro and other government officials. As a result, Maduro has accused the United States of waging an “economic war” against Venezuela.
Last week, President Trump held a meeting with Latin American leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where he warned the U.S. is prepared to “take further action” to prevent Venezuela’s democratic collapse:
We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela, and we want it to happen very, very soon! pic.twitter.com/bMJDOtAesl
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017
Meanwhile, Trump has previously revealed that he is considering a military solution to the country’s crisis.
“Venezuela is a mess. It is a very dangerous mess, and a very sad situation,” Trump told reporters in July. “We have many options for Venezuela. I’m not ruling out military options.”