There Is a Military Option in Venezuela: Just Not the One You Expected

Michael T. McLean
Reuters

Michael T. McLean

Security, Americas

Break the Venezuelan military's drug trade and you break the regime.

There Is a Military Option in Venezuela: Just Not the One You Expected

Last week, Acting Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó instructed his representatives in Washington to “open direct communications” toward possible “coordination” with the U.S. military. But what can the American military do to further his cause?

The notion of putting U.S. boots on the ground in Venezuela is wrought with peril. Venezuela has a population of over thirty million, and an American invasion may be exactly what President Nicolás Maduro needs to galvanize his base. Any American presence could cause a prolonged insurgency among a distrustful and well-armed population, not to mention Maduro’s military numbering around 350,000. Similarly, kinetic strikes into the country have the potential to exacerbate the situation further, as there is no easily identified center of gravity that would bring an end to the regime.

Flipping the Venezuelan military’s loyalty to Guaidó, however, would empower a new administration, and end the political crisis in short order. To achieve this feat, America and its allies can attack the military’s illicit narco-trafficking income and offer amnesty in exchange for support of Guaidó.

The corrupt portions of the Venezuelan military sustain themselves on U.S. dollars from their illicit cocaine trade. The trade has permeated the Venezuelan military and its profits directly contribute to the persistent loyalty to President Maduro.

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