The White House says "all options are on the table" for Venezuela—apparently including the arrival of American troops to its neighbor. The words "Afghanistan -> welcome the talks" and "5,000 troops to Colombia" were seen scribbled on a yellow notepad in the hands of national security adviser John Bolton on Monday, as he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced new sanctions against Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), reports the Hill. Twitter users debated whether the note in full view of reporters was an embarrassing misstep or intended to put pressure on embattled President Nicolas Maduro, whom the administration hopes to oust, per USA Today. Either way, the Hill describes three defense officials as saying there is in fact no plan to send troops to Colombia or to Venezuela.
"We … call on the Venezuelan military and security forces to accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power," Bolton told reporters, referencing the administration's backing of Juan Guaido as interim leader. "The [US] president has made it clear that all options are on the table," he added. Mnuchin described PdVSA as a "vehicle for embezzlement" for Maduro's regime, per the Daily Beast, noting the sanctions would only be lifted if Maduro transferred control. Per the AP, Guaido said this would ensure Maduro's government "doesn't continue robbing the people of Venezuela." On the other side of the fence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argued Tuesday that the latest sanctions were an illegal attempt by the US to confiscate Venezuelan state assets, per Reuters. (More on Venezuela here.)