Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered his armed forces to carry out a national exercise next week in reaction to a threat of possible US military action voiced by President Donald Trump.
"I have given the order to the armed forces\’ joint chiefs of staff to start preparations for a national civil-military exercise for the integrated armed defense of the Venezuelan nation," he told thousands of supporters in a Caracas rally.
The drill was to take place August 26 and 27.
Maduro\’s government has seized on Trump\’s warning last Friday that he was looking at a range of scenarios against Venezuela, "including a possible military option if necessary."
The Maduro administration says Trump\’s move bolsters its oft-repeated claim that Washington has designs to grab control of Venezuela\’s proven oil reserves, the largest in the world.
Trump\’s threat, in response to Venezuela\’s deepening economic crisis and Maduro\’s moves toward what the US labels a "dictatorship," was rebuffed by all of Latin America — even countries opposed to Venezuela.
The US Defense Department said Monday it had received no orders from Trump to ready any sort of military action against Venezuela.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who is touring allies in Latin America to marshall joint action against Caracas, said he hoped a "peaceable solution" would be found.