Nicolas Maduro ‘is surrounded by scorpions in a bottle’ at Cuban-run military compound, says John Bolton as he predicts that Venezuelan leader’s inner circle could turn on him
- U.S. national security advisor Bolton said it was ‘only a matter of time’ for Maduro
- He said Maduro was hiding with Cuba and ‘doubted loyalty of the armed forces’
- Washington-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido is trying to remove Maduro
Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro is ‘surrounded by scorpions in a bottle’ and fears that even his inner circle will turn against him, according to John Bolton.
The U.S. national security advisor said Maduro was camped out at a Cuban-run military compound because he ‘doubted the loyalty of the Venezuelan armed forces’.
Bolton predicted it was ‘only a matter of time’ before Maduro’s downfall, as U.S.-backed opposition chief Juan Guaido tries to topple the socialist leader.
Speaking in Washington, Bolton said: ‘If you’re Nicolas Maduro, can you look at your defense minister any more and trust him? I don’t think so.
U.S. national security advisor John Bolton (pictured left in Washington) has said that Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro (right) is ‘surrounded by scorpions in a bottle’
Officials in Washington believe Maduro has been hiding out with his key military allies at a compound called Fort Tiuna (pictured, a military parade at the site last month)
‘I think Maduro is now surrounded by scorpions in a bottle and it’s only a matter of time.’
Officials in Washington believe Maduro has been hiding out with his key military allies at a compound called Fort Tiuna.
The U.S. believes the site is a key Cuban command post in Venezuela and says Havana has some 20,000 military and intelligence personnel in the country.
Cuba angrily denied the claims, saying the majority of the 20,000 people were providing health care, education and basic infrastructure services.
‘To the allegations that Cuba has troops in Venezuela, they are totally and absolutely false,’ said Cuba’s director-general of US affairs, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio.
‘Cuba does not participate in military operations or security operations in Venezuela of any type.’
Juan Guaido (pictured) called for Venezuelan government workers to leave their posts on Thursday as he demands the end of Maduro’s regime
Two days of protests in the capital Caracas (pictured) have failed to oust Maduro, largely because most senior military figures have remained loyal to his regime
Bolton said Maduro was ready to fly to Cuba on Tuesday until Russia allegedly intervened to stop him.
The geopolitical row with Moscow has heightened as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called Washington’s interference ‘a gross violation of international law’.
Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart has claimed that Russia could secretly install nuclear weapons in Venezuela.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that U.S. military action was ‘possible’ if there was no peaceful transfer of power.
The Venezuela crisis has escalated dramatically after opposition leader Guaido issued a video calling on the people to back a military uprising against Maduro.
However the security services have yet to defect to Guaido in large numbers and remain the key to Maduro’s survival.
Guaido insisted that Venezuela was ‘close to achieving freedom’ despite his promised ‘military uprising’ against President Maduro largely failing to materialize
Anti-government protesters throw rocks at motorbike-mounted police officers as they fire tear gas back in Caracas during violent protests yesterday
The call to arms did provoke protests across the country but these quickly descended into scatter-gun violence.
The Caracas government claims it is dealing with a ‘coup attempt’ led by military ‘traitors’ backed by right-wing opponents.
Guaido is recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state by the United States, the European Union and numerous South American nations.
The U.S. believes Maduro’s election victory last year was illegitimate and the latest crisis began when he was sworn in for a second term in January this year.
Maduro’s faltering regime is backed by Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba among others.
The 56-year-old has been in power since 2013 when he replaced his mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, as Venezuelan president.