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Trump to Warn Venezuelan Military to Abandon Maduro


FILE - President Donald Trump waves as he walks through the Colonnade from the Oval Office of the White House on arrival to make an announcement.

U.S. President Donald Trump is set Monday to warn members of the Venezuelan military that they will be left in poverty if they continue to support socialist President Nicolas Maduro instead of the American-backed interim president, Juan Guaido.

The White House, ahead of a Trump speech in Miami to the Venezuelan American community, said, "The United States knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world."

It said Trump will emphasize that "Venezuelan military officials have a clear choice — work toward democracy for their future and the future of their families, or they will lose everything they have."

The White House said Trump will voice "strong support" for Guaido, the president of the National Assembly who has been recognized by the U.S., along with several European and South American countries, as the interim president in Caracas. Maduro still has support from Russia and China.

"The current path toward democracy is irreversible," the White House said.

It said that military and security forces "should listen to President Guaido and allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela."

The White House said that "Venezuela should not be a puppet state of Cuba," and that "the successful peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela will help promote democracy in Nicaragua and Cuba."

It said that if Maduro is ousted, the U.S. will have "created the pathway for the first fully democratic hemisphere in human history."

Trump, in the speech at Florida International University, will warn of "the dangers of socialism."The school is in a Miami neighborhood that has the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S.

While Trump has refused to rule out a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Congressman Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a congressional hearing last week that lawmakers would not support such a move.

US aid

Meanwhile, three U.S. military transport planes loaded with humanitarian for Venezuela aid landed in Cucuta, Colombia on Saturday, adding to the tons food and medicine waiting to cross the border.

The aid sent from the U.S. and many other countries, however, has not yet reached any Venezuelans, but instead sits in towns in Colombia, Brazil and Curacao.

Maduro says the aid is unnecessary and illegal and that to allow it to enter Venezuela would presage a U.S. military invasion.

Venezuela suffers from shortages of food, medicine and other daily necessities and also has the worst inflation rate in the world. Three million people — about 10 percent of the country's population — have fled the country.

Maduro has told the military, which remains loyal to him, not to let any aid convoys cross into Venezuela.

Guaido says he has a plan to bring the aid into the country on Saturday and will release the details Monday.

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