Washington (AFP) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear Monday that the United States did not plan a military intervention in Venezuela even as he vowed that leftist leader Nicolas Maduro would one day fall.
In a speech on Latin America, Pompeo renewed President Donald Trump's promise to battle socialism across the hemisphere but said his policy in Venezuela is "mixed with restraint."
"We've seen folks calling for regime change through violent means, and we've said that all options are on the table to help the Venezuelan people recover their democracy and prosperity," Pompeo said at the University of Louisville.
"That is certainly still true. But we've learned from history that the risks from using military force are significant," he said.
Pointing to hard-hitting US sanctions that include curbs on Venezuela's key export of oil, Pompeo said that US efforts have been "realistic, within the capacity of American power."
Trump since January has been demanding the resignation of Maduro, a leftist firebrand who presides over a crumbling economy that has led millions of people to flee.
But Maduro remains in power with the support of Russia and China and opposition efforts to install Juan Guaido, the young head of the National Assembly, have fizzled.
Pompeo nonetheless voiced confidence that Maduro would fall and suggested he may share the inglorious fate of Romania's communist dictator.
"In July of 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu said capitalism would come to Romania when apples grew on poplar trees -- and by December he was hanging from a rope," Pompeo said.
"The end will come for Maduro as well. We just don't know what day."
Trump repeatedly has said that "all options are on the table" -- words that Maduro sees as evidence of a US plan for a coup -- but has spoken less on Venezuela as the months pass by.
Unlike on many of its international priorities, the Trump administration has found support on Venezuela, with most Western and Latin American nations also considering Guaido the interim president.