On 30th March US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new plan, the Democratic Transition Framework, to bring political change to Venezuela by tying humanitarian assistance to concrete steps toward a political transition. More than a year after the Venezuelan National Assembly elected opposition leader Juan Guiadó as the interim president the horrific potential of a COVID-19 epidemic ripping through a country in which 80% of the hospitals lack regular electricity and medicines offered a new humanitarian opportunity to finally push aside the ineffective, corrupt government of President Nicolas Maduro.
But despite the US’s invocation of Europe in the plan, the European and Latin American governments that originally supported Guiadó in 2019 have remained curiously silent over the new US policy. EU’s High Representative Joseph Borrel only released a short statement after the announcement acknowledging that the US plan would be ‘in the EU line of proposing a peaceful way out of the crisis through a negotiated path to a democratic government.’
While the plan mentions that European governments would also lift their sanctions on Venezuela if certain steps are taken towards liberalization, the plan has a uniquely US flavour, echoing the 1996 Libertad Act that codified the US-Cuba embargo. The silence of the European and Latin American heads of state raises questions about true international support in the new twist in a 14 month saga.
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