Taking a quick look around the maritime context of what is going on in Venezuela:
- Military operations
- Humanitarian aid- https://natsouth.livejournal.com/12110.html(already outlined)
The first to outline is the long-standing US military presence in the Caribbean, Central and Latin America. This is under the remit of SOUTHCOM who “ready for anything in Venezuela” . The main focus of US military operations, (services & inter-agency involvement) is carried out under the framework of fighting the drugs trade, (the maritime element is underpined by the US Navy and USCG with supporting air assets). Colombia is the main area of US military activities. Colombia has become the first NATO partner in Latin America.
I am not going to dwell too much on a detailed account of the US military aspect in the region but just provide a glimpse into the situation as it stands.
The first point to say that any possible US naval force would be spearheaded by the USS Abraham Lincoln, (CVN 72) currently off the US east coast along with numerous destroyers in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been there training on and off (COMPTUEX and JTFEX) for several weeks now finished. The group is scheduled for deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.
Interestingly, OSINT researcher Steffan Watkins has noted some information on recent US Navy and Colombian military activities that are worth consideration.
The idea that the US will directly carry out a military intervention by deploying on the ground substantial troops into Venezuela is somewhat far-fetched, other than the deployment of Special Forces to support the possible actions of anti-Maduro militants. Nor are Brazil, Colombia are expected to take any military action against Maduro without the invovlement of supporting US naval & air support, in a scenario similar to what happened in Libya. Any hybrid military action is likely to involve a possible intense aerial campaign and missile strikes provided by the US Navy and USAF.
US military are regular visitors to the regions but have become understandably more noticeable especially the flight movements of late to digital plane spotters, including variout cargo, passenger transport and helicopters. Attention grabbers are the military reccon and surveillance flights, such as the USAF RC 135 off the Venezuelan coast of late and rare USN P-8s operations elsewhere in the region.
Currently, the focus of the US-lead actions is on humanirtian aid and trying to turn the Venezeulan military against the Maduro government, through various ways. "U.S. offers sanctions relief to Venezuelan military who betray Maduro".
The US has gradually and discreetly enabled a military build-up of infrastructure in countries around Venezuela. The biggest US military presence along with bases is in Colombia, although the exact number of US troops in Colombia is not known. Another hidden example of US military footprint is Curaçao with the support of the Dutch government. The US is seeking more leverage regarding Trinidad and Tobago's position on the Venezuelan government.
In addition to decades-long efforts by the US financially, by imposing sanctions and to change the political scene in Venezuela, the second major area of US intervention is the “diplomatic front”. One glimpse of this is this noteworthy event when the US deployed the hospital ship USNS 'Comfort' to Colombia last November to give medical aid to Colombians and Venezelan refugees. This happened a couple of months after China's naval hospital ship, 'Peace Ark' called into Venezuela. The symbolism is strong: "But sending a military ship – even though it’s white with a big red cross on it – sends more of a message about projecting US power.” (The Guardian 2018)