Venezuela Offers to Pay Companies in Yuan as Workaround to US Sanctions – Report

 A sculpture is seen outside a building of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in Caracas, Venezuela June 14, 2016

Hyperinflation and severe pressure from the United States have complicated the use of bolivars and dollars for the Venezuelan government and affiliated entities.

Venezuela’s authorities and the state-run oil and gas giant, PDVSA, are considering paying to suppliers and contracts using the Chinese currency, Reuters reports, citing government officials and sources from private companies.

The Caracas government is said to have offered at least four companies working with the public sector the chance to make transactions in yuan to their accounts in China.

The companies that have been approached are not identified, but are understood to be looking into the proposals.

Venezuelan authorities have normally paid private entities in the local currency, the bolivar, or in US dollars. However, the bolivar has lost over 99 percent of its value in the past years, while increasingly severe US sanctions have effectively cut Nicolas Maduro’s administration from the American financial system.

Those sanctions, imposed on the Venezuelan government, the central bank and PDVSA, were aimed to force Maduro out of power, but he has proved resilient to US pressure.

According to Reuters, PDVSA and the central bank have long had accounts in China; the latter, for instance, is said to have at least $700 million there due to lucrative oil shipments.

“Paying suppliers in yuan would allow Venezuela to take advantage of the funds it has available in China, without touching the US financial system,” the report says. “However, two of the sources said the process of opening accounts at Chinese banks was proving complicated.”

Speculation emerged over the summer that Venezuelan public entities, including PDSVA and the Social Security Institute, which supervises all social insurance programmes, have started paying suppliers and contractors in euros.

The central bank, meanwhile, was also reported to have started receiving euros in cash this year for the sale of some of its gold reserves.

RESIGNATION OF BOLIVIA’S EVO MORALES WAS NO VICTORY FOR DEMOCRACY, BUT A US-SPONSORED COUP

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Nov 11, 2019, RT.com
by Eva K Bartlett

Evo Morales, an indigenous leader who bucked the IMF and condemned US imperialism, has been pressured by the military to resign after winning an election. Yet Washington calls this blatant coup in Bolivia a victory for democracy?

Morales was re-elected as Bolivia’s president on October 20. The coup-backing Organization of American States (OAS) wasn’t pleased and went ahead interfering in a sovereign nation – as the US itself does so well – issuing a report that the vote result wasn’t satisfactory to their desires.The heavy funding from the US surely has no influence on OAS policies…

In any case, on November 10, President Morales first announced a new election. Later that day, he announced his resignation, naming as reason the recent brutality of Bolivia’s right-wing opposition, including “kidnapping and mistreating” families of indigenous leaders and burning down the homes of public officials.

I resign from my position as president so that (Carlos) Mesa and (Luis Fernando) Camacho do not continue to persecute socialist leaders.

Morales was clear that his move was solely due to the violence incited opposition leaders. However, it soon became clear that this was a coup, not a resignation.
Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff tweeted her solidarity with the “legitimate president of Bolivia [Evo Morales] who was deposed by a military coup, had his house raided by the police and suffered an illegal arrest warrant. A very serious attack on democracy in Latin America and violence against the Bolivian people.”

Another Brazilian ex-president, Lula, likewise declared the “stepping down” a coup. And even before the events of November 10, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner foresaw there would be pressure to force Morales out of office, as did Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro.

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As most readers know, this is not the first US-backed coup in Latin America. Washington’s history of meddling in sovereign nations stretching back many decades. But let’s look at how Bolivia changed under Morales’ leadership.
Poverty, unemployment and illiteracy all decreased significantly under Morales. In fact, according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Bolivia’s was the “fastest-growing” economy in South America, having “basically been stagnant for a quarter century prior to Morales becoming president in 2006.” To do so, however, “the Bolivian government ended 20 years of IMF agreements in 2006,” the same CEPR report notes. Furthermore, expelling US military bases, threatening to close the US embassy in Bolivia, and nationalizing the oil and gas industries haven’t done much to put him in the good graces of ‘democracy-bringers’.

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After all, with America’s lust to ‘democratize’ the world and steal precious resources in the process, nationalizing a country’s goods really mucks up Washington’s dirty plans. It doesn’t help that Bolivia has $2.3 billion worth of contracts to develop its lithium deposits with China, not the US.

Who benefits from Bolivia losing Morales as president? Not the Bolivian people, that’s for certain. In fact, some predict Bolivia’s future could be very dire under the rule of a US puppet.

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“My sin is being a union leader, indigenous. We are giving up so that my brothers do not continue to be kicked,” Morales said, when submitting his forced resignation.

This statement poignantly demonstrates the racism and utter lack of concern by the US for the people of Bolivia. Concerned citizens around the world are holding rallies in solidarity with Bolivia’s elected President and against yet another US-backed coup of a sovereign nation.

“He is now in hiding with his Indigenous Nation, and the death squads have issued an arrest warrant for him,” analyst Laith Marouf noted.

“Know now that if they kill him claiming he resisted arrest, or that he committed suicide; that it was an assassination in the land that saw the assassination of Che Guevara.”

As events unfold in Bolivia, it’s important to keep in mind the possible frightening outcomes. Anything is possible when US imperial interests are at stake.

A few short comments about the Fascist coup in Bolivia

November 12, 2019

Source

These are the folks who just came to power:

They are all members of some kind of Fascist “Christian” cult.

This is what these folks did with those who dare oppose them:

Trump loves this.  He called it a

significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere” and then he proceeded to threaten two more Latin American states by saying “these events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere”.

Old Uncle Shmuel is still hard at work

In fact, he has a very good point.  What this latest coup signals to all patriotic Latin Americans who want to see their continent free from US oppression is this: if you want to openly defy the diktats of the Empire, make absolutely sure the commanders of your armed forces are loyal to you.  Furthermore, you should never forget that the most powerful weapon of the Empire is not its bloated and mostly clueless military force, but its ability to use corruption to obtain by the printing press what they cannot seize by brute force.

So far, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have been successful in their resistance against Uncle Shmuel.  Likewise, there seems to be an internal (and covert) “hidden patriotic opposition” inside the Brazilian military (at least according to my Brazilian contacts) which might limit the damage done by the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the coup against Lula da Silva (for example, the Brazilian military has declared that they will not allow Brazil or Brazilian forces to be used in an attack against Venezuela).

Finally, the absolutely shameful behavior of many Latin American countries whose comprador elites are trying to catch up with Poland as the most abjectly subservient voluntary slaves of the Empire.  These countries all know that both Maduro in Venezuela or Morales in Bolivia were honestly elected and that all the rumors about a stolen election are nothing more than crude lies.  In sharp contrast, the so-called “US allies” in the region are all spineless prostitutes who are in power solely because of the support of the AngloZionist Empire.

In 1971 an Uruguayan journalist named Eduardo Galeano wrote a seminal book entitled “Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina” which was eventually translated into English under the title “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent“.  This extremely famous book (at least in Latin America) is as actual in 2019 as it was almost half a century ago: the veins of Latin America are still bleeding and the folks doing the bloodletting have not changed one bit.

The only good news so far is that the US-backed regimes in Latin America are all facing various levels of protests and dissatisfaction which might lead to popular protests which could eventually remove the comprador elites once again, but this time around the leaders of the resistance need to truly understand that winning a popular vote is simply not enough: every time a truly patriotic regime comes to power, the US eventually is successful in using its agents in the ruling classes in general and especially in the armed forces to overthrow the popularly elected leaders.

Hugo Chavez made many mistakes, but that he got right, and that is why the US has not been able, at least so far, to trigger a color revolution in Venezuela.  Well, they tried and failed.  As for Cuba, it has resisted the combined might of the US Empire for many decades, so they also know something crucial.

Over the past decades the “front lines” between sovereign and free Latin American countries and US puppets has moved many times, and both sides felt at times victorious and at times despondent.

And yes, the coup against Morales is a HUGE blow to the resistance to the Empire.  The man was much more than just a leftist patriot, he was a moral symbol of hope for the entire continent.  Now that he is gone, a lot of Latin Americans will be as disgusted and sad as I am today.

I take some solace in Mexico’s decision to give Morales political asylum. I don’t know enough about Mexico to speculate on the motives of the Mexican President, but now that Morales is safe he can always relocate to another country if needed.

Should Morales ever come back to power, his first priority ought to be a profound purge of the military and the replacement of “School of the Americas” types with real patriots.  Doing this will not be a sufficient condition for success, but it will be a required one nonetheless.

The Saker

The Return of The Condor

The Return of The Condor

By Darko Lazar

The wave of Color Revolutions sweeping the globe in recent years claimed its latest victim on Sunday. Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who was unwilling to subordinate his nation’s sovereign rights to US interests, was removed from office.

Numerous foreign officials – from the UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – described Morales’ departure as a coup d’etat.

The charge is not at all surprising. Morales, Bolivia’ s first indigenous president, was reelected three times since taking office in January 2006.

The consecutive electoral victories made him Latin America’s longest-serving democratic leader.

During his time in office, Bolivia enjoyed an unprecedented level of political and social stability, recording an economic growth rate of between 4% and 6%.

But following the latest elections in October, the opposition and regional US vassals began screaming bloody murder.

Amid allegations of fraud, the Washington-based Organization of American States [OAS] was mandated to carry out an audit of the election results.

Claiming irregularities, the OAS recommended that Bolivia hold fresh elections. Morales agreed, but just hours later, Bolivian military chiefs stepped into the fray and ‘asked’ the incumbent to resign.

Faced with a violent onslaught against his supporters in a country with an unstable ethno-political makeup, Morales put the wellbeing of the Bolivian people before his desire to remain in power and stepped down.

However, his resignation has not extinguished the possibility of further unrest. Bolivia remains vulnerable to a high risk of violence, as gangs roam capital La Paz to attack businesses and set property ablaze.

To what extent the situation escalates will depend largely on how far the victors of the revolution are willing to go in persecuting Morales supporters. And despite the mainstream narrative, there is no shortage of Bolivians who still see the former president as a champion of the poor, who ushered in a period of steady economic growth.

Meanwhile, in Washington, smothering that kind of sentiment is exactly what is required.

For those roaming the US halls of power, the departure of Morales brings them “one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”

With those words, President Donald Trump once again invoked the so-called Monroe Doctrine.

Swimming against the tide

Evo Morales was the last survivor of the ‘Pink Tide’, which ushered in left-wing governments across Latin America two decades ago, starting with the consecutive elections of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Lula da Silva in Brazil.

Among one of the main driving forces behind the rise of these progressive leaders is the very powerful anti-American sentiment in the region, which was instigated by bloody escapades like the infamous Operation Condor.

This US-backed action throughout the 1960s and ‘70s centered on economic warfare, political murders, coups and the sponsorship of brutal, far-right regimes in an effort to clear the American continent of all undesirables – or as Trump so eloquently put it, ‘free’ the Western Hemisphere.

In 2017, a tribunal in Rome convicted former heads of state and top security chiefs from Latin America over their involvement in atrocities committed during Operation Condor.

Among those officials were Bolivia’s former dictator, Luis Garcia Meza, and interior minister Luis Arce Gomez.

Interestingly, the court also exposed the involvement of current Trump administration whisperer and former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

One of the declassified documents admitted as evidence during the trial reveals that Kissinger not only encouraged the brutal repression in individual Latin American states, but also advised regimes to join their efforts.

“If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly,” Kissinger is quoted as saying during a June 1976 exchange with Argentina’s then-foreign minister, Admiral Cesar Guzzetti.

“We want you to succeed,” Kissinger said. “We do not want to harass you.”

Those struggling to understand the Trump administration’s foreign policy need to look no further than Henry Kissinger.

The former American diplomat devoted much of his career to advancing the Monroe Doctrine – Washington’s longstanding claim to the Western Hemisphere as an exclusive zone of US interests.

In his 2014 book, ‘World Order’, Kissinger defines the Monroe Doctrine as the US having “the right to intervene preemptively in the domestic affairs of other Western Hemisphere nations to remedy flagrant cases of wrongdoing or impotence.”

Bolivia’s Evo Morales – who criticized US intervention in Venezuela, spoke out against the blockade of Cuba, denounced the military coup in Honduras and applauded Edward Snowden’s revelations – was no doubt guilty of “wrongdoing” on the Kissinger scale.

But more importantly, perhaps, Morales had picked the wrong economic partners.

In February of this year, Bolivia chose a Chinese consortium to be its strategic partner on a new USD 2.3 billion lithium project.

The deal essentially handed Beijing a foothold in Bolivia’s huge untapped reserves of the prized electric battery metal.

Morales is guilty of other sins against US hegemony, too. He brought in Russian energy giant Gazprom for the development of a number of lucrative natural gas fields. The Russians have other massive investments in Bolivia, including the construction of a nuclear research facility. Moreover, Moscow had plans to build hydroelectric power stations and transportation networks.

The time had come to remind Morales and other Latin American states that the Monroe Doctrine was “alive and well” – as John Bolton had famously declared in April.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Bolivian opposition was flushed with millions of dollars from Washington ahead of the October polls.

The Caracas-based Telesur television network reported last month that leaked audio recordings involving Bolivian opposition leaders revealed a plot orchestrated and coordinated from the US embassy in La Paz to unseat the government there.

The recordings reportedly mention contacts between the opposition and hardline American senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Bob Menendez.

A message to Maduro

Morales’ exit will likely lead to significant changes in Bolivia’s geopolitical vector.

That means that Russia and China will have a much harder time securing contracts for gas exploration, lithium mining and arms sales.

But the coup in Bolivia is particularly bad news for Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. The success of the right-wing opposition in La Paz is undoubtedly intended to encourage and inspire their ideological counterparts in Caracas.

And as Maduro loses another friend on the Latin American stage, the message from Washington to the government in Caracas is clear: you may have won a battle against the US-led push to oust you from power, but the war is ongoing.

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Media Yells “Cut!” When Trump Forgets His Lines and Says Something Anti-War

Trump Media Feature photo

Source

When it comes to substantive issues thatthe elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism.

Trump has greatly expanded the U.S. role in the Middle East, announcing his intention to supply Saudi Arabia with over $100 billion in new arms and reversing previous decisions stopping the sale of laser-guided bombs that have reduced Yemen to rubble. He also vetoed a bipartisan resolution aimed at ending the U.S. role in a near genocide that threatens to kill nearly 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. Trump also made the decision to drop the MOAB — the Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used — on Afghanistan in 2017 (to applause from the media).

He also continuously threatens enemy states with nuclear annihilation (in gross violation of the UN charter). In 2017 he told North Korea that he would “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury” while earlier this year he promised Iran that he would bring about “the official end” if it crossed America’s path.

Trump has also conducted a worldwide campaign of economic war against the U.S.’ official enemies, increasing devastating sanctions against the people of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Nicaragua. And Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela have killed at least 40,000 people since 2017, according to a report from the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research. The United Nations notes that the sanctions are designed to hit the poor and most vulnerable, with an (American) Special Rapporteur who visited the country likening them to a medieval siege and describing them as a “crime against humanity”.

While many portrayed Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, as the real architect of the violence, the president revealed that Bolton was actually a moderating voice on Cuba and Venezuela, while he [Trump] favored even more direct action.

 

An anti-war war hawk?

That is why Trump’s recent statements on the Middle East were all the more surprising. Defending his surprise decision to withdraw from fighting in Syria, he argued that the U.S. “should never have been in the Middle East in the first place,” claiming “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

But the president went even further, offering a serious analysis of the costs of America’s overseas operations. “The United States has spent eight trillion dollars” on war in the region, he declared on Twitter; “Going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country. We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, weapons of mass destruction. There were none!”

What was most shocking of all in this uncharacteristic bout of honesty was that Trump discussed the human cost of war, something rarely mentioned in corporate media. “Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side,” he added.

His comments elicited a storm of outrage on social media from the professional liberal “resistance,” apparently more angry that he said the quiet part loud than about the millions of dead people. Political satirist Jeremy Newberger claimed he had been brainwashed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and asked him “did you consider putting a big bow on Syria when you decided to gift it to Putin?” Meanwhile, former British Member of Parliament turned professional #Resistance grafter Louise Mensch slammed the president: “TRAITOR! The women of the YPG are DYING at your hands as YOU let ISIS take Raqqa! You SURRENDERED TO RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM!” she responded, in an eclectic mix of capitalized and non-capitalized words.

Liberal-skewing media was barely any slower in lining up shoulder to shoulder with traditional conservatives in opposing Trump’s anti-war intimations, giving pro-war criticisms of Trump from prominent Republicans like Lindsay Graham, Nikki Haley and Liz Cheney full coverage.

NPR, CNN and the New York Times all dedicated significant resources to reporting the condemnations of Trump’s tweets, the latter’s editorial board asking “Does Donald Trump [even] know what his Syria policy is?” The Washington Post claimed that Pentagon officials were “struggling” to explain Trump’s “abandonment of the Kurds and kowtowing to Turkey,” claiming national security aides were mobilizing to “repair the damage” Trump caused. An MSNBC segment headlined “Donald Trump betrays American allies” insinuated that Trump’s decision to pull away from Syria was due to his business deals in Turkey, reminding viewers of Trump Tower in Istanbul. Esquire Magazine claimed that his actions were something “only a twisted, compromised mind could concoct.”

NYTIMES Trump Syria

The New York Times dedicated significant resources to condemnations of Trump’s tweets

But it was The Hill that most accurately summed up the tone of the media. Pulling out of the Middle East is “impulsive, strategically vapid and morally obtuse” according to opinion contributor Will Marshall. On the topic of “endless wars” he said:

 It’s time to retire this mindless trope. U.S. forces aren’t engaged in the Middle East because Americans are addicted to war or the trappings of superpower status. They are fighting mainly to contain the very real threat of Islamist terrorism.”

Marshall continued to explain that it has been nearly 75 years since Japan surrendered, and the U.S. still has tens of thousands of troops occupying the country. This, for him, was a good thing, because they were there “to preempt threats to our homeland, deter aggression and protect America’s far-flung interests. Their mission is counterterrorism.” Thus, it seems that the liberal resistance to Trump is strongest when he begins to shift, however minutely, to a more anti-war position.

 

Our underfunded Military Industrial Complex

It was a similar story last year, when in December Trump took to Twitter to declare the $716 billion military budget he had previously approved “crazy,” fueling speculation that he might attempt to reduce the already enormous amount the U.S. spends on war — damn near as much as all other countries combined.

Then, as now, corporate media almost uniformly condemned the idea. The Washington Post described a reduction in military spending as “suicide,” claiming the U.S. is in the middle of a “full-blown national security crisis.” The crisis, according to its source, was that it could no longer be sure of victory in a war against Russia in the Baltic or against China in the South China Sea. Why it is crucial that the U.S. should be able to destroy other nuclear-armed countries on the other side of the world was not explained.

Other outlets followed suit. Forbes Magazine began its article with the words, “The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades.” Bloomberg recommended a consistent increase in military spending of three to five percent above inflation for five to ten years. The Wall Street Journal was even more blunt: “Don’t Cut Military Spending Mr. President,” its headline read.

The media’s deepest fears did not come to pass, however, as Trump committed to a massive increase to the military budget, up to $750 billion for this year, assuaging the media’s fears.

 

Liberals applauding war

In contrast, whenever Trump is at his most bellicose, media laud his bravery and leadership. Despite warning before his election that Trump was a dangerous fascist too erratic be allowed to control a nuclear arsenal, media overwhelmingly supported the president’s decision to bomb Syria, escalating a conflict that could have turned into a hot war with Russia. CNN host Fareed Zakaria was delighted by his decision: “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States last night,” he said on air.

Likewise, “resistance” media have given Trump considerable support in his attempt to force a coup in Venezuela, backing his puppet Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president. The New York Times claimed that Guaidó was “cheered on by thousands of supporters in the streets and a growing number of governments.” CNN (falsely) reported that there was a vast, popular movement behind him, as “Venezuelans took to the streets in nationwide protests.” CNBC did the same, noting there were “hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans” out on the streets, chanting together and waving national flags, demanding an end to Maduro’s “socialist government.” And all while downplaying or simply ignoring the catastrophic role U.S. sanctions are playing in the country.

For all the talk of an adversarial media standing up to an authoritarian like Trump, the reality is that the media have been selective about what to oppose him on. While they continue to mock him for his crude remarks or his mannerisms, when it comes to substantive issues that the elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism. At that point media begin condemning him in unison, accidentally revealing their true agenda. To those who believe in an anti-interventionist foreign policy, the media’s resistance is useless.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump walks toward members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress contributor as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

Couldn’t Care Less! Venezuela’s Representative at the UNGA Reads a Book during Trump’s Speech

Couldn’t Care Less! Venezuela’s Representative at the UNGA Reads a Book during Trump’s Speech

By Staff

As US President Donald Trump was delivering his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, somebody was busy enough to read a book instead of listening.

In a photo published by @FarsNewsInt, the lady representing Venezuela appeared attentive enough to the book in her hands, with a caption that describes the action happening while Trump was giving his speech there.

Trump has been notoriously known for intervening in Venezuela’s affairs, especially after the failed coup attempt against legitimate president Nicolas Maduro by US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

During his third address to the United Nations, Trump was threatening to tighten US sanctions against Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of “menacing behavior” in the Middle East.

“As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened,” Trump claimed on Tuesday at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Trump repeated his baseless accusations against Iran’s civilian nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as Tehran’s support for the people in the war-ravaged countries of Syria and Yemen.

The US president also continued to criticize the 2015 nuclear agreement that he withdrew from last year.

Trump’s speech follows escalating tensions in the Middle East following attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Speaking for the first time about reasons for firing his national security advisor John Bolton, US President Donald Trump said he was “way out of line” on Venezuela, even as the State Department doubled down on regime change.

“I disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes about Venezuela. I thought he was way out of line,” Trump told reporters at the Oval Office on Wednesday.

The failed attempt to effect regime change in Caracas – which Bolton has been at the forefront of since January – was only one of the issues the president brought up. Bolton’s sabotage of denuclearization talks with North Korea, earlier this year, was another.

“We were set back very badly when [Bolton] talked about the Libyan model” with North Korea, Trump added. “That’s not a question of being tough, that’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs to the US, only to be violently overthrown and murdered by US-backed groups in 2011.

Bolton also “wasn’t getting along with the people in the administration that I consider very important,” Trump added, making sure to point out that he had opposed the 2003 Iraq War while Bolton was an unapologetic advocate of it.

None of that explains why Trump hired Bolton and kept him on as his principal foreign policy adviser for nearly 18 months, however. Nor does it explain why Trump agreed to appoint Bolton’s colleague Elliott Abrams as Washington’s point man on Venezuela, despite a history of his Trump-bashing public comments.

The Trump administration on Wednesday showed no signs of abandoning the approach to Caracas championed by Bolton and Abrams since January, despite it having failed miserably. Shortly after Trump’s comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would give legal framework for military intervention in Venezuela.

Pompeo’s pretext is that this was requested by Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela recognized by the US and a handful of its allies, but no one else in the world. Guaido’s repeated attempts to take over power in Caracas since January have failed miserably.

Trump maintained that his policy on Venezuela is “humanitarian” and designed to “help” people there, and blamed “socialism” for the country’s economic woes. He has framed his 2020 re-election bid as stopping the “socialist” Democrats from taking over the US.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This was in stark contrast to his readiness to meet with the Iranian president, another thing Bolton reportedly opposed.

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