Retired colonel warns against US involvement in Venezuela

Retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor on Tuesday warned against military involvement in Venezuela, saying the U.S. has already created “enormous bad blood” in Latin America and caused "refugee flows."  

"Whenever we go into these countries in Latin America, we create enormous bad blood and we create refugee flows,” Macgregor told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball during an interview on “Rising.”

Macgregor, who helped launch the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said that Latin America is already “riddled” with organized crime and, any U.S. involvement could make the situation even worse than it already is.

"All of these places are riddled with organized crime and criminality, it’ll get worse if you go into Venezuela,” he said.

Venezuela remains locked in a power struggle as President Nicolas Maduro refuses to give up power. 

Last week, President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE endorsed Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, as the nation's interim president. Several other countries, including Canada and Argentina, followed suit.

The White House told The Associated Press on Monday that “all options are on the table” when it comes to dealing with the escalating political crisis in Venezuela. The statement came after national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Overnight Defense: US shoots down Iranian drone | Pentagon sending 500 more troops to Saudi Arabia | Trump mulls Turkey sanctions | Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract Trump to request review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract MORE was spotted holding a yellow notepad during a briefing with the words “5,000 troops to Colombia.” The image later went viral on social media, raising questions about whether the U.S. would seek direct involvement with Colombia's neighbor, Venezuela. 

The Trump administration also announced on Monday new sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), in an effort to ramp up pressure on Maduro to step down from office. These sanctions will target an estimates $7 billion in assets and could result in $11 billion in lost sales over the next year.

Even if Guaidó did take over the country, Macgregor predicts only a temporary impact. 

The veteran said Venezuela will likely remain a “basket case” for some time, pointing to the current state of the oil and gas industry as a prime example.

"He needs a lot of aid and support to repair the oil and gas industry to get that back on its feet," Macgregor said. "How does all of this happen quickly, I don’t think it does,” he added. 

—Tess Bonn