Marco Rubio downplays notion of U.S. military action in Venezuela

January 27, 2019 GMT

The Trump administration has insisted that “all options are on the table” in dealing with unrest and instability in Venezuela, but one prominent lawmaker said Sunday that no one in Washington is seriously considering the idea of using military force to top the embattled regime in Caracas.

“I don’t know of anyone who is calling for a military intervention,” Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

Mr. Rubio added that the U.S. is not at all fomenting the crisis there and is instead responding to an uprising by the Venezuelan people, many of whom seem to have lost confidence in the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

“This is not a U.S.-backed anything,” Mr. Rubio said. “I didn’t see any Americans in the street in Venezuela.”

The administration, along with governments across the hemisphere, last week denounced the Maduro government and said they’ll instead recognize political opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful leader. Mr. Maduro responded by breaking off diplomatic ties with the U.S. and threatening American diplomats, though his government seemed to back off of those threats over the weekend, and it now appears that U.S. officials could stay in Caracas.

Mr. Maduro, who claimed a second six-year term despite winning an election that much of the world deemed illegitimate, has shown no signs he’s prepared to give up power willingly. The administration has maintained that it may pursue economic sanctions, an oil embargo, or even military action to force him out.

While plans for military intervention don’t seem to be in the works, Mr. Rubio said the U.S. does have a legitimate national security interest in Venezuela.

“The United States always retains the right, anywhere in the world, in any instance to protect its national security,” he said