During an interview on Univision’s Miami affiliate in late August, Rubio stated that the security threat Venezuela’s leftist government now posed made it necessary to consider U.S. military action. “For months and years, I wanted the solution in Venezuela to be a non‐military and peaceful solution, simply to restore democracy,” Rubio said. “I believe that the Armed Forces of the United States are only used in the event of a threat to national security. I believe that there is a very strong argument that can be made at this time that Venezuela and the Maduro regime has become a threat to the region and even to the United States.” He added: “Every day it gets worse and worse, right here in our own hemisphere.” Rubio accused the Venezuelan regime of “sponsoring and protecting narco‐traffickers,” as well as flooding neighboring countries with “people seeking refuge from Venezuela.”
Unfortunately, Rubio is not alone in flirting with a military solution and arguing that Venezuela poses a security threat. President Trump seems inclined to embrace a similar view. Credible news reports that surfaced in July of this year that Trump told aides in August 2017 to prepare a contingency plan for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. The president indicated considerable interest in that option. His security advisers reportedly pushed back, arguing that resorting to military force would have significant adverse repercussions throughout the hemisphere. Despite such resistance, it is highly probable that U.S. military leaders have such a contingency plan in place if the economic and political situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate.
Washington’s growing annoyance with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government is understandable. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have created a nightmare for their unfortunate country. In the nearly two decades that the supposedly democratic socialist regime has held power, the economic situation has produced a humanitarian catastrophe. At the beginning of the twenty‐first century, Venezuela had the highest per capita gross domestic product in South America. Today, it is becoming increasingly challenging to find even basic necessities on store shelves, and unemployment has soared well into the double digits. Last month, the annual inflation rate was tracking toward a mind‐boggling 1 million percent. The Maduro government’s “solution” to its grotesque fiscal incompetence was to lop‐off five zeros from the country’s laughably debased currency. To the extent that Venezuela’s economy functions at all, it is mostly through primitive bartering.