Venezuelan opposition asks for meeting with U.S. military to discuss "cooperation"

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

/ CBS News

After staging a failed uprising, the Western-backed Venezuelan opposition is seeking a meeting with U.S. military officials to discuss "strategic" and "operation" planning to bolster its leadership challenge against the leftist government of Nicolás Maduro.

Citing the worsening of conditions in crisis-stricken Venezuela and the presence of "uninvited foreign forces" in the country, Carlos Vecchio, the opposition's envoy in Washington, asked officials from the U.S. Southern Command to set up a meeting in the near future to enhance "cooperation." U.S. officials have frequently said Russian and Cuban military units are helping Maduro cling to power.

"We welcome strategic and operational planning so that we may fulfill our constitutional obligation to the Venezuelan people in order to alleviate their suffering and restore our democracy," Vecchio wrote in a letter over the weekend.

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The Southern Command oversees the Pentagon's strategy in Latin America and its security arrangements with governments in the region. The Command did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment.

President Trump and official in his administration have not ruled out military action in the crisis-stricken South American country, repeatedly saying that "all options are on the table."

Late last month, the Venezuelan opposition, led by National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, tried to organize an uprising against Maduro's increasingly authoritarian regime, but failed to prompt any major defections among the country's sprawling military structure.

Although the U.S. and dozens of other governments have recognized him as Venezuela's interim president, Guaidó has not managed to convince the military to help him topple Maduro, who has presided over a period of economic turmoil and political unrest. The ruling socialist government in Venezuela has denounced Guaidó as a Western lackey and blamed U.S. sanctions for the country's economic woes.

First published on May 13, 2019 / 2:36 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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