National Security Advisor John Bolton has threatened the government in Caracas that he denounced as “illegitimate” not to lay a finger on Juan Guaido, the opposition figure Washington considers to be Venezuela’s president.
“Let me reiterate – there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido,”Bolton tweeted on Tuesday, addressing the “illegitimate former” attorney general of Venezuela who he said threatened the self-proclaimed president.
We denounce the illegitimate former Venezuelan Attorney General's threats against President Juan Guaido. Let me reiterate - there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 29, 2019
Bolton’s threats came after Venezuelan AG Tarek Saab announced that Guaido would be investigated for “serious crimes that threaten the constitutional order.” The authorities may freeze Guaido’s bank accounts and seek to prevent him from leaving the country, local media reported.
On Monday, Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the US would seize all assets of Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA, and channel them into accounts that would be accessible only by Guaido or a new elected government the US would approve of.
The United States will not let Maduro and his cronies continue to loot the assets of the Venezuelan people. https://t.co/V1o7Bdr2cL— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 28, 2019
Guaido declared himself president earlier this month, with the backing of Venezuela’s National Assembly – the legislature last elected in 2015, which the government in Caracas considers lapsed with the 2017 election of the Constitutional Assembly. President Nicolas Maduro was re-elected in May 2018, but the US-backed opposition has denounced him as a “usurper.”
The US, Canada, Australia and most of the OAS members have recognized Guaido as president, while Russia, China, Cuba and Bolivia have gone on the record in support of Maduro.
Maduro has denounced US meddling as an attempted coup and told the Trump administration on Monday to keep its “hands off” Venezuela.
Bolton’s threats come on the heels of his comments at the White House on Monday that many Venezuelan officers are considering defecting to Guaido’s side, and the excitement about a strategically visible scribble in his notepad about “5,000 troops to Colombia.” The government in Bogota, however, says it has no knowledge of any US troops arriving.
The US appears very serious about regime change in Caracas. Last week, the State Department appointed Elliott Abrams, a convicted Iran-Contra participant with a long sordid history in Latin America, as its point man on “bringing democracy” to Venezuela.