Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan defended U.S. intelligence gathering on Venezuela after U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido failed to inspire mass military defections earlier in the week.
"I don't feel like we have an intelligence gap. I think we have very good reporting," Shanahan told reporters Friday, when asked about a possible intelligence failure.
Guaido, who the United States and some 50 countries recognize as the legitimate president of Venezuela, had called for a military uprising this week to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro. The uprising failed to push the military into rebellion, but was followed by clashes between protesters and police in cities across the country, which led to the death of at least one person.
Guaido called Friday for protesters to gather outside military bases Saturday to try to persuade soldiers to support them. He has also called for staggered industrial action leading to a general strike.
Shanahan met Friday at the Pentagon with top U.S. military officials about the situation in Venezuela. He did not suggest any moves toward a U.S. military intervention, but repeated the Trump administration stance that all options are "on the table."
Shanahan said the meeting was to make sure the U.S. national security leadership was in "alignment" on potential outcomes in Venezuela.
Maduro has clung to power in Venezuela, calling on the country's armed forces to oppose "any coup plotter" after Guaido failed to win defections from military leaders. At a televised event Thursday with the military high command, the embattled Maduro urged the military to "keep morale high in this fight to disarm any traitor, any coup plotter."
Guaido, the National Assembly leader, declared himself the country's interim president in January, saying Maduro's election in December was a fraud.
Guaido has been recognized by the United States and about 50 other countries as the legitimate leader of the South American nation, but he has not been able to nudge Venezuela's socialist president from office.
Millions of Venezuelans — exhausted by out-of-control inflation, severe food and fuel shortages, lack of medical care, and periodic blackouts — have fled the country.
Maduro has accused Guaido of trying to carry out a U.S.- and Colombian-supported coup and says the opposition will fail.
He said demonstrators will be prosecuted "for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace."