In March 2020, the US government planned a simultaneous naval blockade against Venezuela and Cuba, with the aim of overthrowing both governments. The revelation was obtained from the new book by Mark Esper, who at the time was the secretary of defense of former US president Donald Trump.
Samuel Moncada, Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, referring on Twitter to Mark Esper’s book A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, noted that the plan was hatched during meetings in Washington between Trump and the supposed interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. Moncada has commented on these meetings previously.
After the failed military coup of April 2019, the US government had to reconsider what steps could be taken to further its aims.
“In March 2020, after the Trump-Guaidó meeting, the US government considered a total naval blockade, simultaneously on Venezuela and Cuba, to overthrow the governments of both countries,” wrote Moncada in the first of 10 tweets outlining Esper’s revelations, alongside images from the book, and a translation in Spanish.
“April 30, 2019, after the failed coup organized by the US in Venezuela, Trump threatened a total naval blockade on Cuba if it did not ‘immediately terminate’ its relations with Venezuela,” posted Moncada alongside screenshots of news published by Fox News that very same day, containing the threats made by Trump.
In his third tweet of the sequence, Moncada noted how Trump was also interested in using military force to impede the flow of oil between Venezuela and Cuba: “That idea was proposed by Robert O’Brien and Mauricio Claver-Carone at the National Security Council.” O’Brien was the advisor to the Council while Claver-Carone was the senior director.
“Everyone was at that meeting during March 2020,” wrote Moncada, “all of the leaders of the security branches of the US. The proposal was to block all maritime routes to Cuba and Venezuela, in order to strangle their economies. A true act of war according to international law.”
Esper explains in his book that he agreed with cutting Venezuela off completely from receiving oil from outside the country. However, as Moncada wrote on Twitter “he thought that a naval blockade on Cuba, like the one during the missile crisis in 1962, was an old idea that had been moved past.” Instead, Esper was searching for a legal and credible way in which to apply a comprehensive blockade.
A total military blockade on Cuba and Venezuela’s maritime commerce was rejected as absurd, but O’Brien proposed another option: detain and confiscate only the ships carrying Venezuelan oil, Moncada explained.
Esper knew that Trump, O’ Brien and Claver-Carone favored the use of military force, although they failed to consider the justifications or the international consequences. If he had expressed objections from the start, Esper worried that he would be accused of “dragging his feet” with respect to Trump’s instructions.
Moncada also noted how those who proposed the blockade had not thought about issues such as the legal basis for the detention of ships and personnel, the use of force if access were denied to the ship, the rules of combat if such a situation were to arise, and what to do in the case that there were US casualties, injuries, or captured marines.
“Neither did they they think about what to do once the ship was captured, what port to take it to, who would captain the ship, or what to do with the captured oil,” wrote Moncada. “Trump didn’t understand these things, neither did O’Brien or Claver-Carone.”
Moncada concluded by noting how the “Trump-Guaidó meeting permitted the planning of a direct military invasion, of the attack of mercenaries from Colombia, of President Maduro’s assassination, a military attack on Puerto José (where refineries are located, in Anzoátegui), the naval blockade on Cuba and Venezuela, and the theft of Venezuelan oil in international waters.”
Featured image: US Navy fleet. Photo: Alba Ciudad.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune