President Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday he is considering a quarantine or blockade of Venezuela.
When asked by a reporter whether he was considering a blockade or quarantine given that Iran and China are actively supporting the socialist Maduro regime, Trump replied, “Yes I am.” He did not provide further details.
A blockade of Venezuela would represent the most significant effort by the Trump administration to remove the Maduro regime from power, having already imposed a range of economic sanctions against senior officials and state-run companies.
As well as the imposition of sanctions, the U.S. has also thrown its full support behind President Juan Guaidó, providing him with both financial and diplomatic support. Guaidó became the nation’s president in January following the expiration of Maduro’s last term. Maduro insists that the May 2018 elections he organized – widely recognized as fraudulent by the international community – entitle him to continue to rule. Maduro controls the nation’s military and presidential palace, limiting Guaidó’s ability to serve.
Last month, Guaidó resorted to entering negotiations with the regime, although two separate rounds of talks ended without any form of agreement.
Trump has long affirmed his commitment to the issue of Venezuela, repeatedly warning that “all options are on the table” with regards to ending the country’s political, economic, and humanitarian crisis, including the use of military force.
The State Department has also funded multiple humanitarian aid convoys for the thousands of Venezuelan refugees fleeing to neighboring countries on a daily basis.
In an address to Latin American business executives in Brasilia on Thursday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross outlined plans to rebuild Venezuelan society in a post-Maduro era.
“Venezuela will continue to deteriorate until the internationally-recognized government of Juan Guaido implements needed economic, political and social reforms,” Ross said. “[Their] infrastructure needs are far more severe than other Latin American countries because of years of neglect. And because their economy has shrunk between 5 and 25 percent a year under Maduro, the amounts seem disproportionately large.”
“Commitments, therefore, must be underpinned by confidence in rapid economic growth,” he continued. “That confidence will be based upon economic reforms, rule of law, transparency and integrity in government and business, global cooperation, and regional integration. Growth also will require massive initial aid to jump-start the engine.”