Venezuela’s opposition leader, whose most recent call for a military uprising failed to oust disputed leader Nicolas Maduro from power, said in a recent interview he is considering asking the United States to intervene in the embattled South American country.
Speaking to the BBC, the U.S.-recognized president of Venezuela Juan Guaido said he would “evaluate all options” to force out Maduro, adding it was “responsible to evaluate” the possibility of international intervention.
“I, as the president in charge of the national parliament, will evaluate all options if necessary,” Guaido, 35, said.
Last week, flanked by several heavily armed soldiers, Guaido and his mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, attempted to spark a military rebellion and force Maduro out of office. After a full-day of in-fighting in the streets of Caracas – which at one point saw an armored vehicle plow into a crowd in an incident broadcast on live TV throughout the world – the coup d’état attempt fell flat.
At least five people were killed in the street clashes.
“I think the only one that really hurts himself is Maduro,” Guaido told the BBC when asked if these failed attempts to oust Maduro weaken his cause. “He has been losing again and again. He is increasingly weaker, increasingly along, [and] has no international support.”
He added: “On the contrary, we are more accepted, have more support and more options in the future.”
Guaido, who invoked the constitution to grant himself interim presidential powers as the head of the opposition-led National Assembly last February, has the support of more than 50 countries including the United States. He claimed at the time that Maduro’s re-election last year was rigged and one in a series of increasingly authoritarian steps since he replaced the late Hugo Chavez in 2013 as president.
The Trump administration has said it is monitoring the situation in Venezuela closely and military intervention is on the table. On Friday, the U.S. government leveled pointed, but vague, threats of a military response to the Venezuelan political crisis.
"We have a comprehensive set of options tailored to certain conditions, and I'm just going to leave it at that," Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said. Pressed to say whether the options include direct military intervention, Shanahan said, "I'll leave that to your imagination. All options are on the table."
Guaido told the BBC the support from the U.S. has been “decisive,” adding “President Trump’s position is very firm, which we appreciate, as does the entire world.”
Meanwhile, Maduro, who has the support of countries such as Russia and China, has said U.S. sanctions aimed at forcing him from power are taking a toll on the economy, and his government has accused Guaido of fomenting violence, pointing to Guaido's appeal to the military last week to switch sides.
On Friday, Maduro appeared at an army base in Caracas and called on the military to defeat “any coup plotter.”
“No one dare touch our sacred ground or bring war to Venezuela,” he said.
Maduro's government has not moved to arrest Guaidó, possibly reflecting its own weakness in the face of intense U.S. pressure not to move against the opposition leader.
“I’m going to tell him the same thing the president told the world: that every country must get out, including the Russians,” he said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s what I’ll tell them. We don’t want anyone messing around Venezuela.”
He added: “We want [Venezuela] to be an autonomous, independent sovereign state with democratically elected officials. That is what we desire for the Venezuelan people.”
Lavrov met with Venezuela's foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, in Moscow on Sunday and said afterward that he hoped U.S. talk of a military option does "not reflect the intentions" of Trump.
"We call on both the Americans and those who support them to drop irresponsible plans," the Russian foreign minister said.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and the Associated Press contributed to this report.