Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro warned on Monday that U.S. and allied troops “will not make it out alive” if they invade the country.
Addressing thousands of soldiers at an official reveal of the military roster in Caracas, Maduro described himself as a “warrior of peace” who would return an era of prosperity to the crisis-stricken country.
“You must be ready to go to the heart of the enemy who dares touch Venezuelan soil – to go to the heart of the enemy and to tear out his heart in his own territory,” he declared, warning that an “imperialist force” may soon seek to overthrow his socialist regime.
“We will defend our homeland from imperialists and oligarchs and traitors … whether they are in Bogotá or Brasília,” he continued, before calling on a supposed 1.6 million-member civilian force to be “armed to the teeth” to ensure the country was “impregnable and untouchable.” Maduro has repeatedly alleged that Colombia and Brazil, following the inauguration of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, would join the United States in a military invasion of his country.
“Are we ready to defend the homeland? Are we ready to pounce on and defeat the traitors and the oligarchs?” he added, as soldiers responded by lifting their weapons in the air and shouting, “Si!”
The @MiliciaFANB is prepared to defend and expel, any foreign force that dare touch an inch of our land. We will defend ourselves against imperialists, oligarchs and traitors, wherever they come from. They will not be able to defeat us! pic.twitter.com/16u0KCDZfm
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) December 18, 2018
Maduro’s comments come after Russia placed nuclear-capable bombers in Venezuelan territory amid rising tensions in the region. Moscow eventually agreed to return the aircraft to Russia after pressure from the U.S. to do so.
It is not the first time that Venezuela’s socialist regime, largely controlled by allies in Cuba, has fired up its military in preparation for war. In October, senior regime official Diosdado Cabello declared that his troops were “fully prepared” for conflict with the United States and affirmed that troops would remain loyal to Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution should any “imperialist” power try to topple the regime.
American and Latin American officials have typically not reacted with concern following similar remarks. In September, President Donald Trump mocked the Venezuelan military for its seemingly cowardly response to an explosion at a military event that Maduro claimed was a drone attempt at assassinating him.
Although most regional leaders still remain opposed to the idea, there has been growing discussion of a military intervention in Venezuela to liberate people from the Maduro regime and help bring an end to the economic and humanitarian crisis that has caused one of the world’s most pressing refugee crises.
Trump himself has repeatedly refused to rule out a military solution to the crisis, with the State Department currently considering the designation of Venezuela as a state sponsor of terror over the regime’s reported support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and even the Islamic State.