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Trump's Full Venezuela Policy Comes Into View

March 12, 2019

The Trump administration doubled down Monday on its remarkably hawkish line on Venezuela.

Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo gathered reporters for an unusual, unscheduled early evening press conference at State headquarters in Foggy Bottom, and just before midnight, ordered the evacuation of the American embassy in Caracas.

“The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from [U.S. embassy Venezuela] this week,” Pompeo said. “This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in [Venezuela] as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, the secretary lambasted the regime of Nicolas Maduro, but above all, emphasized the centrality of Cuba, Washington’s bete noire in the region. Experts on the region frequently cast Venezuela as a client state of Havana. Pompeo on Monday sought to turn the narrative of an overreaching United States on its head...

Said Pompeo: “So, when there’s no electricity, thank the marvels of modern, Cuban-led engineering. When there’s no water, thank the excellent hydrologists from Cuba. When there’s no food, thank the Cuban communist overlords.” Longtime Latin America hawk Frank Gaffney , who has met personally with the president in recent months and remains a dominant fixture in hard-right circles, on Tuesday blasted “the communist dictator still illegitimately clinging to power.”

Puffery aside, Venezuela risks the dark. “We are witnessing in real time a slow motion national suicide,” Eric Farnsworth, a former Clinton administration official and expert on the region at AS/COA, told me. “U.S. pulling out remaining embassy personnel by end of the week. It's a prudential step to protect them. Chaos is building . . . Bad news.”...

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