Vastavam web: Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday said Congress would oppose U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and challenged the credibility of President Donald Trump’s special envoy, Elliott Abrams, over his past embrace of American covert action. The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, expressed concern about Trump’s hints that military action was an option in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is under intense international pressure to step aside and the country’s economy is in chaos.
The head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaido, invoked a constitutional provision to assume the presidency three weeks ago, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham. Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, but Maduro’s socialist government retains the backing of Russia and China, as well as control of state institutions including the military.
Abrams, an assistant secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, was convicted in 1991 of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, in which U.S. officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran and funnelled the money to rebels fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government. He was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Representative Joaquin Castro asked Abrams if he was aware of any transfers of weapons or defence equipment by the U.S. government to groups in Venezuela opposed to Maduro. Abrams responded that he was not.
Representative Ilhan Omar discussed U.S. support for anti-communists in Central America during the Cold War and cited Abrams’ initial dismissal of reports of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador as left-wing propaganda. “Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they serve the U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua?” Omar asked. Abrams also drew intermittent outbursts from protesters at the hearing. “You are a convicted criminal!” one man shouted before being escorted out.