The Associated Press published an article this morning in which it revealed that United States President Donald Trump openly discussed invading Venezuela with his staff and Latin American leaders.

According to the AP, Trump first raised the issue of a military invasion of Venezuela during an Oval Office meeting in August. The AP reports:

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

The article goes on to explain that over the course of approximately five minutes, Trump’s staff “took turns explaining to Trump” why a military invasion would be a bad idea for a number of reasons. However, the president appeared to be unconvinced:

But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

The AP report goes on to detail that, “shortly after” the Oval Office meeting, Trump discussed the possibility of invading Venezuela with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.

The following month, Trump again discussed the invasion “at greater length” at a dinner with Latin American leaders “on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly”. This, despite the fact that Trump was “specifically briefed” by his staff to make no mention of the invasion, since it “wouldn’t play well” with his homologues.

Trump allegedly began the discussion at the dinner with the words, “My staff told me not to say this”.

The article offers a disturbing look into a lackadaisical Trump White House, one in which his staff must work to contain the president’s ill-advised whims, and constitutes a dramatic stumble for U.S. diplomacy in Venezuela and Latin America.

Just last week, vice president Mike Pence gave a speech in Brazil and addressed a message to “all nations in the region”: that the United States “respects your borders and your sovereignty”.

Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for The New York Times, attempted to provide context for the AP report by suggesting that Trump’s musings about an invasion came at a particularly stressful time in his presidency:

Beijing Gives Caracas $5 Billion

The Chinese government offered Venezuela as desperately-needed lifeline today in the form of $5 billion in investment funds. destined for the country’s oil sector.

According to the TeleSUR network:

These funds will allow Venezuela to upgrade the development of its key industry, as well as expand China-Venezuela cooperation.

TeleSur also claims that during a “recent call”, Maduro and Chinese president Xi Jinping both “expressed a will to further develop ties”.

News of the loan comes just a day after Reuters reported that Venezuela would receive $250 million from China for oil development projects. It is not clear if the money cited in the Reuters and TeleSUR reports constitute the same loan.

The loan is the largest to come from China in years, and follows years of reports suggesting that Beijing was increasingly hesitant to pump money into Venezuela since the severity of the crisis made it increasingly unlikely that the country would be able to repay the money.

Minister of Defense Teases July 5 Parade

July 5 marks the anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence in 1811, an act which resulted in Venezuela seceding from Spain and becoming an an independent country. The day is usually marked by a military parade in Caracas.

Earlier today, Minister of the Interior Vladimir Padrino Lopez posted a teaser video on his official Twitter account in which he provided a taste of tomorrow’s parade.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Padrino Lopez: It’s July 5 again! Day of the motherland. We are here watching a general rehearsal by our National Bolivarian Armed Forces. Tomorrow is their day: July 5. Two things combine: it’s Declaration of Independence Day, and National Bolivarian Armed Forces Day. [Unintelligible]. It was 200 years ago that they decided to declare their independence forever. That’s [a process] that can’t go backwards. That’s why we are here with the people to tell the world that we continue to watch over and maintain the bedrock of that of which [Simon] Bolivar spoke: South American freedom.

We’ll wait for you here on July 5 in the Paseo Los Proceres [in Caracas], the people and the armed forces in monolithic unity. That’s how we’ll win.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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