National Security Adviser John Bolton warned during an exclusive interview with Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily on Thursday that the United States could act militarily to protect as many as 50,000 Americans in Venezuela.
Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow asked Bolton what U.S. options are on the table in Venezuela, where socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro has refused to give up power after its National Assembly declared his May 2018 election invalid and Juan Guaido interim president.
“President Trump himself has been clear on this point on any number of occasions when he says all options are on the table. I think people need to understand and believe that; he’s very serious about it,” Bolton told Marlow.
“And I’d just point out one very important statistic: we estimate right now in Venezuela there are between 40 and 50,000 American citizens, and the government of the United States has no higher duty internationally than to protect its citizens from violence and intimidation. So that’s something that I think everybody needs to keep in mind,” he said.
But Bolton added that the U.S. wants to let Venezuelans make their own decisions, independent of outside influences.
“What we’d like to do is let the Venezuelan people make their own decisions here, not through a government controlled by Cuba’s surrogate for Russia, not through what we call the debt-diplomacy of China trying to finagle its way in to countries all around the world and get control of Venezuela’s oil reserves,” he said.
He said a “big issue” is Venezuela’s oil wealth, which China, Russia, and Cuba would like to control.
“Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world — larger than even Saudi Arabia. So that’s why the Chinese are all over Venezuela with loans and efforts to get control. That’s why the Russians are all over Venezuela. And that’s why between 20, 25,000 Cubans are in Venezuela to try to take control of that,” he said.
He said Cuban security forces are propping up Maduro to continue receiving below-world-market-price oil. “Once that’s broken, it’s going to put real pressure on Cuba, too, because if that authoritarian government had to buy oil at global prices, not the subsidy that Chavez and Maduro gave to Cuba, they’d be in real economic trouble, too,” he said.
But he said the bigger outside influences are China and Russia, who could threaten the Monroe Doctrine principle of making sure Latin America does not become colonies of outside powers and a sphere of influence for them.
“Our goal is to make sure these foreign influences are not controlling Venezuela and adversely affecting the United States and our interests in our own hemisphere,” he said.
“So we’re talking here about wresting control away from a socialist autocracy and keeping the Monroe Doctrine alive in the Western Hemisphere to have powers outside the hemisphere not dictating what goes on here. I think it’s a very important thing for the United States and really everyone else in the hemisphere.”