White House national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that “momentum” is on the side of the U.S.-backed National Assembly in Venezuela and that President Nicolas Maduro “fears” that if he orders the arrest of opposition leader Juan Guaido, “it would not be obeyed.”
“I think momentum is on Guaido’s side. Reports in the press that stress that the military hasn’t shifted [from Maduro to Guaido] miss the point entirely,” Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“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,” he explained.
ABC NEWS, MARTHA RADDATZ: And I want to turn now to Venezuela. We’ve seen the mass demonstrations, trying to halt food aid into the country, Nicolas Maduro looks like he is not really going anywhere. ABC’s Tom Llamas talked to Venezuelan President Maduro a few weeks ago, who said he fears President Trump because of those around him, including you. Let’s listen.
TOM LLAMOS, WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR: Do you fear President Trump?
NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: I fear the people that are around him like John Bolton, an extremist and expert of the Cold War. Elliott Abrams, a liar that trafficked arms and drugs in Central America and around the world and brought war to the United States. I think these people surrounding President Trump are bad on the subject of Venezuela.
RADDATZ: I think you got the idea there, pointing the finger, right, at you and others. Do you want Maduro to fear the advice you’re giving to the president?
JOHN BOLTON: Let me just say I’m honored to be named by Nicolas Maduro. I add him to the list of other people who’ve criticized me over the years. I don’t wish him any ill will. I tweeted some weeks ago I hope his future consists of living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela. It’s not just Maduro though. It’s the entire regime. It’s a group of kleptocrats who have plundered Venezuela of its oil wealth, have impoverished the people. You can see that now with the collapse of their nationwide electrical grid …
RADDATZ: But do you think Maduro’s going anywhere. It’s been about six weeks since the U.S. backed Juan Guaido.
BOLTON: I think – look, I think momentum is on Guiado’s side. Reports in the press that stress the military hasn’t shifted miss the point entirely.
RADDATZ: What’s the point?
BOLTON: The point is that they have not sought to arrest Guaido and the and the National Assembly and the opposition. And I think one reason for that is that Maduro fears if he gave that order, it would not be obeyed. 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.
They’re not going to broadcast that …
RADDATZ: You’re pretty certain Maduro’s going to be out?
BOLTON: Well, I’m not certain of anything. But I do think momentum is on the side of Guaido. I think the overwhelming support of the population and the overwhelming support of the enlisted personnel in the military and the junior officers, the top officer corps, only a few have broken. You know, there are 2,000 admirals and generals in Venezuela which is more than all of the nations of NATO combined. That tells you who benefits from plundering the economy.
But many of them are talking as well. We’ll see what happens.