The mass protests against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro that rocked the country in January 2019 led to opposition politician Juan Guaido declaring himself interim president – a move that was endorsed by the US, but opposed by many other countries, including Russia, China, and Turkey.
US President Donald Trump is now considering alternative strategies to topple Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, with reports indicating that he doubts that the Washington-backed Juan Guaido will be able to challenge the Venezuelan president, Bloomberg reported, citing four sources familiar with the matter.
According to the outlet, US Vice President Mike Pence held a meeting on Thursday during which he gathered various senior officials together to discuss strategies for a political transition in Venezuela from Maduro’s government, following Guaido’s failure to do so despite having been strongly backed by Washington. It has been reported that other options now involve pressuring countries that are engaged in business and oil-related activity with Venezuela – including Cuba, trying to partner with Russia in a bid to influence Maduro’s departure from power, as well as working with the president’s inner circle to convince them to switch sides.
In the meantime, reports indicate that during Thursday’s meeting with Pence, White House officials dismissed the idea of restricting India’s imports of oil from Venezuela, which have proved to be an important source of revenue for Maduro’s government.
The State Department’s Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said that Guaido “remains the single most popular official in Venezuela and the United States remains fully supportive of him and of the National Assembly in their effort to restore Venezuela to democracy”, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Since January, Venezuela has been struck by mass protests following the inauguration of President Nicolas Maduro. On 23 January, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of the country. He was backed by a number of Western states, including the US, which granted him control of some Venezuelan property in the United States. Maduro, who was backed by Russia, China, Turkey, and a number of other countries as the legitimate president, called the 36-year-old politician a “US puppet”.
Guaido has so far both failed to receive widespread support from the public and to assume the role of legitimate and functioning president, with the attempted April military coup against Maduro failing to oust him from power, but rather only forced opposition politicians into hiding. The Maduro administration, which remains in control of the government and military, also launched an investigation into foreign interference on behalf of Guaido and the latter’s potential influence-peddling among opposition politicians, banning him from leaving the country.
In addition to political pressure, the US has also continued to exercise economic pressure against the Maduro government by introducing successive packages of sanctions against Venezuela and its oil-related activities – moves that have reportedly only hurt the country’s economically vulnerable population.
Featured image: © AP Photo / Martin Mejia