(CNSNews.com) – The Maduro regime may be glad to see the back of National Security Advisor John Bolton, an arch-critic, but the Trump administration joined ten other countries in the Americas on Wednesday invoking a regional mutual defense pact in support of the Venezuelan people.
“Recent bellicose moves by the Venezuelan military to deploy along the border with Colombia as well as the presence of illegal armed groups and terrorist organizations in Venezuelan territory demonstrate that Nicolas Maduro not only poses a threat to the Venezuelan people, his actions threaten the peace and security of Venezuela’s neighbors,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
He added that the countries that voted to invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) would now consider “multilateral economic and political options” in response to “the urgent crisis raging within Venezuela and spilling across its border.”
Of note, Pompeo did not refer to “military options.” The TIAR, a document dating back to 1948, states that “an armed attack by any state against an American state shall be considered as an attack against all the American states.”
Wednesday’s decision at the Organization of American States (OAS) was backed by Venezuela’s interim Juan Guaido government – which is recognized by the U.S. and more than 50 other countries – the United States, and ten other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay and Dominican Republic.
Of the other parties to the pact, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru abstained in the vote. The Bahamas was absent.
Over the summer, Guaido’s government requested that Venezuela be readmitted to the TIAR, seven years after then-President Hugo Chavez led Venezuela and a group of his left-wing allies out of the agreement.
Colombia has accused the Maduro regime of protecting armed groups in its territory, and Maduro in a televised statement this week called Colombia a threat and launched military exercises along the Venezuela-Colombia border. He also alleged that an assassination plot against himself was being planned from Colombian soil.
The regime’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, on Wednesday slammed what he called the “infamous decision by a tiny group” of governments to invoke the TIAR.
“It is painful that countries which were invaded by U.S. troops and whose peoples were massacred by the application of TIAR, endorse today a similar crime against a brother country,” the pro-regime Telesur TV network quoted him as saying.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela calls on the countries and peoples of the region to firmly reject the ambitions of this small group of countries which is threatening the peace and integrity of the country and the entire continent.”
Telesur described the TIAR as a treaty “imposed on the region by the United States within the context of the Cold War, with the aim of legitimizing military interventions in Latin America for ideological reasons.”
In Moscow, the pro-Maduro, Kremlin-backed RT network accused the State Department of pushing “regime change” even as Bolton departed.
RT also fretted that Elliot Abrams, the U.S. special representative for Venezuela, remains in place.
Abrams, who was appointed by Pompeo to his post last January, has like Bolton been outspoken in his view that Maduro must go if the Venezuela crisis is to be resolved.
Late on Wednesday night, President Trump retweeted a tweet by Pompeo about the TIAR development.
Hours earlier, the president was asked in the Oval Office about his policy on Venezuela, “now that John Bolton has gone.”
“We have a policy on Venezuela that’s a firm policy,” he replied. “Venezuela’s really hurting and we’re trying to help people in a humanitarian way. That’s probably not good in terms of, you know, crushing a, a terrible regime, but, you have people dying.”
Attributed Venezuela’s crisis to socialism, Trump said, “This is a country that 15 years ago was one of the wealthiest countries, and now it’s dying. They don’t have water, they don’t have food, they don’t have medical, they have nothing.”
Without elaborating, Trump said, “I disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes on Venezuela. I though he was way out of line, and I think I’ve proven to be right.”
Asked whether he’d be open to meeting with Maduro, he said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”