DORAL, Fla. – Sen. Rick Scott met with Adm. Craig Faller, the four-star military officer who heads U.S. Southern Command, Monday in Miami-Dade County's city of Doral.
Scott said he is hoping that the escalating sanctions on the Venezuelan government will pressure Venezuela's strongman, Nicolás Maduro, to step down and allow Juan Guaidó, Venezuela's interim president since Jan. 23, to make way for Democratic elections.
While Guaidó has the support of the US and about 50 other nations, Maduro has the backing of Russia and China, which have both asserted economic control over Venezuela through loans-for-oil deals and investments.
Faller recently told Foreign Policy that China was involved in a propaganda campaign to blame the US for Venezuela's massive electrical grid failure. He also said the US military is "looking at a range" of options and "will be ready" to act if President Donald Trump decides they need to.
"The crisis in Venezuela could approach that degree by the end of this year if Maduro still remains in power," Faller said. "It’s that bad."
Amid the humanitarian crisis, Scott has said that he wants the U.S. military to escort aid convoys. The power outage and lack of potable water hit Venezuelans who are already struggling with inflation and shortages of food and medications.
Guaidó's goals remain to win the support of Venezuela's armed forces so that they can facilitate the distribution of international shipments of humanitarian aid. Maduro's loyalists want Guaidó in prison and withdrew his parliamentary immunity earlier this month.
"We’re not going to bend our knees — if that’s what they tell us to do," Guaidó said during a rally in Maracaibo. In response, the crowd shouted,"Yes we can!"
Last week, Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would prohibit companies that are conducting business with the Venezuelan government from getting contracts with the U.S. He also voted to confirm David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, as secretary of the Interior Department.
Scott is scheduled to travel to Panama, Colombia and Argentina next week.