News about Stammer's possible trip comes amid confusion caused by US National Security Adviser John Bolton about the United States' plans with regard to Colombia. During a 28 January briefing about new sanctions against Venezuela that would target state-owned oil and gas company PDVSA, Bolton was photographed holding a yellow notepad that read: "5,000 troops to Colombia".
The US Southern Command, of which Army South is a component, was established to conduct operations in Latin America. It is responsible for 31 states and 15 territories in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
On 21 January, mass protests started across Venezuela and lasted for several days. Two days after, head of the parliament Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president. Incumbent leader Nicolas Maduro has claimed that Washington has been orchestrating an anti-government coup in the country. Russia has stressed that it supported Maduro as the legitimate president.