Venezuela’s armed forces have responded angrily Tuesday to threats made against them by US President Donald Trump and calls to break the chain of command.
Speaking at a press conference held in Caracas and flanked by commanders from all of the branches of the military, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez told the press that Washington “Will not be able to install a “puppet” and anti-patriotic government, they will have to step over our dead bodies first.”
Trump had warned Venezuelan soldiers that they risked “losing everything” should they continue loyal to Maduro at a press conference in Miami Monday. He once more urged them to recognize National Assembly President Juan Guaido as “interim president” and yet again refused to rule out direct military action against Venezuela, stressing that “all options are on the table.”
“If [the Venezuelan soldiers] choose this path [of loyalty to the government] they will find no refuge, they will lose everything,” Trump told reporters and Venezuelan immigrants in Florida.
Padrino called attempts to give orders to the Venezuelan armed forces “disrespectful,” while also vowing that threats of sanctions and blackmail would not allow the US to “achieve its objective.”
“When a president of another country comes and tries to give orders to [our] Armed Forces, he is underestimating them disrespectfully (…) It is incredulous,” Venezuela’s Padrino Lopez responded.
Venezuelan embassy in Costa Rica “taken” by Guaido’s team
Guaido’s efforts to seize power from Maduro have continued on the diplomatic front, with reports on Wednesday morning that his appointed representative to Costa Rica, Maria Faria, had “taken control” of the Venezuelan embassy in San Jose.
“We have come to the Embassy to advance with the process of transition which is being led by Venezuela’s National Assembly and President Juan Guaido,” she told press in San Jose. Existing embassy staff was working “irregularly,” she went on to affirm. It is unclear if any confrontation with embassy staff took place.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza issued a statement rejecting the actions taken by the opposition sympathizers of Guaido, reminding Costa Rica that his team enjoy diplomatic immunity and invoking Costa Rica’s responsibilities under the Convention of Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention.
He urged San Jose to “assume the correct side of the international conventions and to avoid a violent situation stimulated by factors of the Venezuelan opposition.” For their part, Costa Rican authorities criticized the move, with Vice-Foreign Minister Lorena Aguilar calling it “unacceptable” and a break of diplomatic norms. Aguilar went on to express her “strong rejection” of Faria’s actions for not respecting the 60 days that had been given to the Venezuelan diplomatic corps to leave the country.
Following his formal recognition by around 25 percent of the world’s governments, Guaido’s team has proceeded to name “diplomatic representatives” to a number of European countries Tuesday, including the UK (Paolo Romero), Belgium (Mary Ponte), the Netherlands (Gloria Notario), Germany (Otto Gebauer), France (Isadora de Zubillaga), Portugal (Jose Rafael Cotte), Spain (Antonio Ecarri), Sweden (Leon Poblete) and Austria (Williams Davila). He also named representatives to Australia, Luxembourg, Romania, Andorra, the Dominican Republic, Malta and Denmark. In late January, Guaido named representatives to a number of Latin and North American nations.