Top Colombia diplomats were among several dozen US and Latin American senior officials who attended a confidential meeting in Washington DC last week to discuss possible military action in Venezuela.
Colombia’s Ambassador to the US, Francisco Santos, was among those at an off-the-record seminar entitled, “Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,” sponsored by an influential Washington-based thinktank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The private, unofficial meeting made clear that military intervention in Venezuela remains an option for the US, which has been unable to replace the disputed President Nicolas Maduro with the US-friendly Juan Guaido, despite months of pressure.
The event, along with the roster of attendees, was posted by investigative journalist Max Blumenthal at his web site, The Grayzone.
There is no mention of the meeting on the CSIS website.
“We talked about military options in Venezuela,” one attendee confirmed to Blumenthal, declining to give further information.
In addition to Santos, other members of Colombia’s US Embassy staff were present, including Defense Attache Gen. Juan Pablo Amayo and Deputy Chief of Mission David Avila, according to the attendance list posted by Blumenthal.
Other in attendance were current officials of the US State Department and USAID, along with members of the Venezuelan opposition, former US ambassadors in Latin America (including William Brownfield, former ambassador to Venezuela and Colombia) and National Security Council members.
Former military officials included US Admiral Kurt Tidd, recently retired commander of Southcom, the Miami-based multi-force unit of the US military responsible for Latin America.
CSIS, founded in 1962, is widely considered one of the most influential thinktanks in the world regarding security issues. The University of Pennsylvania’s ranking of thinktanks has put it No. 1 in Defense and National Security for the past eight years. Its list of current and former associates is a ‘Who’s Who’ of important diplomats and government officials.
The US has used Colombia as a staging ground for its regime-change campaign against Venezuela, but so far without success.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday visited Cucuta with Colombian President Ivan Duque, Colombia’s main border hub to Venezuela, which has been the center of US activity in the past.
Colombia is the USA’s only Latin American ally that backed down from its opposition to military intervention in international efforts to force out the Venezuelan president.