Politics

‘All Options Are Open’: Trump Puts Venezuelan Military On Notice

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images and YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump delivered a forceful message to Venezuelan security forces who remain loyal to the Maduro regime, in a Monday afternoon speech at Florida International University.

To any official who continues to support the Maduro regime, Trump said, “The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day, and every day in the future. You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you,” adding, “we seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open.” 

Talking points distributed by the White House ahead of the speech emphasized a stark message to Venezuelan security forces who have not put themselves under the control of Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during the ceremony of recognition by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), at the Fuerte Tiuna Military Complex, in Caracas on January 10, 2019. - Maduro begins a new term that critics dismiss as illegitimate, with the economy in free fall and the country more isolated than ever. (Photo by Federico Parra / AFP)

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during the ceremony of recognition by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), at the Fuerte Tiuna Military Complex, in Caracas on January 10, 2019. (Photo by Federico Parra / AFP)

“Venezuelan military officials have a clear choice — work toward democracy for their future and the future of their families, or they will lose everything they have,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said was a key highlight of the speech, adding that “the United States knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world.”

“You will lose everything,” Trump warned in his speech, declaring, “Today I ask every member of the Maduro regime: end this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death for your people.” 

The explicit threat to go after Venezuelan security force assets who remain loyal to Maduro is the latest escalation of the United States against the regime, which is locked in a major power struggle. Trump recognized Guaido as the democratically elected president of Venezuela in January, paving the way for several Western nations to follow suit. (RELATED: Progressives Break With Democratic Party Over U.S. Opposition To Socialist Dictator Nicolas Maduro)

Guaido became the leading opposition figure in Venezuela to Maduro after securing the support of the National Assembly. The U.S. maintains that he is the Democratic representative of the Venezuelan nation and Trump emphasized in his speech that the strong stance against Maduro is part of a broader push to expand Democracy in the Western Hemisphere.

The United States has sought to target the Maduro regime by enforcing strict sanctions on state oil exports that remain under its control, which is expected to cripple the Venezuelan economy further.