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Trump administration’s neocon war hawks target Venezuela: US Congresswoman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Venezuelan student uses a slingshot, in clashes with riot police, at a protest in Caracas, on November 21, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump is surrounded by neoconservative war hawks who have a history of supporting regime change wars in the past and now are calling for the overthrow of the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, an American Congresswoman says.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii – a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate –  said in an interview with MSNBC television network on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s foreign policy is highly influenced by the “neocon war hawks” who once supported regime change wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria, and that their decision only resulted in thousands of lives lost, trillions of dollars wasted and more suffering.

“This administration and the neocon war hawks that surround President Trump have made no secret about what their intentions are to further this regime change effort both in Venezuela as well as in Iran. So we are hearing these war drums beating,” Gabbard said.

“President Trump is acting not with our interest in mind, not with the American people’s interest in mind and moving forward with something that’ll prove to be very, very costly,” she added.

The US Congresswoman went on to say, “We do have a situation with a cabinet full of neocon war hawks whose history is very well-known in leading our country into one regime change war after the other and to great expense in American lives, to trillions of dollars coming out of our tax payer’s pockets as well as the lives and the suffering at the devastation of the people in the countries where we waged these wars.”

Gabbard’s remarks come as Washington has been pressuring Maduro to step down and urging more countries to join those supporting Venezuela's opposition figure Juan Guaido who declared himself “interim president” in January.

More than 50 countries including the United States and Venezuela’s largest neighbors have recognized Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the South American nation’s leader.

US Vice President Mike Pence said last week that Washington was determined to remove Maduro from power in Venezuela and that "all options" against Caracas were on the table. He also called on the UN Security Council to recognize the opposition leader as the new president of the Latin American country.

"The time has come for the United Nations to recognize interim president Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body," Pence told the council on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during his three-day tour of Latin America, called for maintaining regional pressure on Maduro and his legitimate government, also warning that Washington would continue to use all economic and political tools at its disposal to oust the 56-year-old socialist leader.

The Trump administration has imposed a raft of sanctions against Maduro’s government and even threatened to use military force in an attempt to remove him from power. China and Russia are among the countries that have warned Washington against the consequences of any military action in Venezuela.

US-imposed sanctions have hurt the Venezuelan economy as well as ordinary people, who are already suffering from hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages, triggering mass migration to neighboring countries, such as Peru and Colombia.

Many Venezuelans, fleeing economic and political crisis at home, have joined migrant caravans of Central American countries over the past months and reached the US southern border with Mexico, where they have been facing an array of mistreatment and abuse.

About 3.7 million refugees have fled the worsening crisis in Venezuela in recent years -- a third to neighboring Colombia, according to the United Nations. That figure could reach five million by the end of the year.

Maduro blames US sanctions for the country's economic problems and dismisses Guaido as an American puppet.

Russia, China, Iran and Turkey are among the countries that have remained steadfast in their support for Maduro's legal government.

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