Donald Trump has expressed full support for the Venezuelan opposition to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power, just as the country’s authorities announced they’d seized a cache of weapons, allegedly delivered from the US.
The US-made weapons were discovered at the storage yard of Arturo Michelena International Airport in the Venezuelan city of Valencia, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. The stash included at least 19 rifles and 118 magazines, high-caliber ammunition, as well as 90 radios and six mobile phones – and was likely sent from Miami, Florida on Sunday, authorities believe. An investigation to determine the intended recipient of the shipment has been launched.
While the US never ruled out a military option to support Juan Guaidó’s claim to power, so far Washington has called for a peaceful transition of power in the Latin American country.
“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom,” Donald Trump reiterated during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, offering full support for the Venezuelan opposition and the leader of the National Assembly.
“We condemn the brutality of Maduro regime,” Trump added blaming Caracas, and socialism in general, for the economic downfall of the country strangled by US sanctions.
The opposition leader proclaimed himself interim president on January 23. In a matter of days, Guaidó received full support from Washington, as well as many of the EU and Latin American countries. Following the announcement, Venezuela witnessed massive rallies, both for and against Maduro.
The Venezuelan government slammed the move as “a coup attempt” and warned against any international meddling or potential military action. Despite the opposition and even US officials urging Venezuelan officers and soldiers to defect, the army has so far mostly maintained its loyalty to the elected government, while President Maduro has repeatedly stressed that Venezuela will defend its sovereignty at any cost.