A powerful Venezuelan politician is warning that U.S. Marines might invade Venezuela.

Diosdado Cabello, the Venezuelan socialist party vice president, on Saturday told leftist politicians and supporters gathered at the Sao Paulo Forum that U.S. Marines will “likely” enter Venezuela, Reuters reported.

“We are few, a small country, we are very humble, and here it is likely that the U.S. Marines enter. It is likely that they enter," Cabello said, according to Reuters. “Their problem will be getting out of Venezuela.”

The heated rhetoric from the Venezuelan socialist leader follows an aggressive encounter between a Venezuelan SU-30 Flanker and an American EP-3 on July 19. The EP-3 is a signals intelligence and reconnaissance aircraft.

According to U.S. Southern Command, the Venezuelan aircraft “aggressively shadowed” the American EP-3 at an “unsafe distance" while the U.S. aircraft was conducting a mission in international airspace.

Tensions have come to a boil between the U.S. and Venezuela as the U.S. has put its support behind Juan Guaido, leader of the National Assembly, following what the White House has described as a sham re-election bid by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The Trump administration has characterized the May 2018 re-election of Maduro as fraudulent and has accused the socialist leader of plundering the nation’s wealth and abusing the population. The White House views Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

In September 2018, President Donald Trump said Maduro’s government was “a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that."

Reuters reported that Cabello presides over a legislative body that is loyal to Maduro, known as the Constituent Assembly. Cabello is regarded as one of the most powerful officials in Venezuela, just under Maduro, according to Reuters.

Marine Corps Times has reached out for a comment from the Pentagon regarding Cabello’s remarks and has not yet received a response.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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