News & Politics

Bolton: Venezuela's Maduro 'Fears' Order to Arrest Opposition 'Would Not Be Obeyed'

Bolton: Venezuela's Maduro 'Fears' Order to Arrest Opposition 'Would Not Be Obeyed'
Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and current National Security Advisor John Bolton (Rex Features via AP Images)

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week” that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has not given the order to arrest opposition politicians because he fears the “order would not be obeyed.”

“I think momentum is on Guaido’s side. Reports in the press that … the military hasn’t shifted miss the point entirely,” Bolton said in an interview with “This Week” Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz Sunday. “They have not sought to arrest Guaido and the National Assembly in the opposition, and I think one reason for that is that Maduro fears if he gave that order, it would not be obeyed.”

The U.S., along with 50 other countries, have backed Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, who’s leading the opposition movement.

“The fact is — and the media don’t know it because people don’t talk about this — there are countless conversations going on between members of the National Assembly and members of the military in Venezuela; talking about what might come, how they might move to support the opposition,” Bolton said. “They’re not going to broadcast that.”

Bolton tweeted Wednesday that President Donald Trump “has made it clear to Nicolas Maduro and those around him, ‘all options are on the table.'” But Pentagon officials indicated in September that there was no active planning for U.S. military intervention.

That hasn’t stopped Maduro from ginning up fear and loathing against the United States with his dwindling number of supporters. Maduro also talked to ABC News and claimed the U.S. was threatening to go to war:

In his first interview with an American television network in years, Maduro told ABC News Anchor and Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas that phrases like “all options are open,” are “a threat for war.”

Also in that interview, Maduro said that he fears the people around Trump, including Bolton, who he called “an extremist and expert of the Cold War.”

I think these people surrounding President Trump and advising him on Venezuelan policies are bad. And I think that at one point, President Trump will have to say ‘stop, stop, we have to see what happens with Venezuela,’ and change his policy,” Maduro said.

Bolton added, “I’m not certain of anything,” when asked if Maduro would leave.

But Trump’s Venezuela envoy, Elliot Abrams, doesn’t think Maduro is going anywhere.


Elliott Abrams, who served in the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, said any negotiated solution would need to be reached among Venezuelans, and that the United States could help by lifting or easing U.S. sanctions and travel restrictions once Maduro agreed to go.

Abrams, however, played down any possibility that the Venezuelan president was ready to talk about his exit. “From everything we have seen, Maduro’s tactic is to stay put,” Abrams said in an interview on Friday.

Maduro still has a base of strong support among the poorest Venezuelans as well as the top officers in the military. But as the nationwide power outage enters its fourth day with no sign electricity will be restored any time soon, you have to think that much of that support is melting away.

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