U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said on April 8 that the idea of negotiating with the regime to end the crisis is “realistic.”
“Every dictatorship in Latin America, with the rarest of exceptions, ends with a negotiation,” Abrams said via teleconference, where he defended the U.S. Department of State’s plan to set up a transitional government in Venezuela that includes the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV, in Spanish) and the Venezuelan Armed Forces.
The proposal seeks to create a State Council elected by the National Assembly — with pro-government and opposition parties participating — that would call future elections in which Nicolás Maduro might, in theory, participate.
“We didn’t think it was right for foreigners to say here’s a list of Venezuelans who can run for office and here’s a list of Venezuelans who cannot run for office,” Abrams said about Maduro’s possible candidacy.
Maduro “is the most toxic figure in Venezuela […]. If he presents himself in an election, he’s going to be crushed,” the diplomat said in the teleconference held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The regime rejected the U.S. proposal just hours after it was announced, calling it “interventionist.”
For Abrams, that outcome was expected. He said that the message was mostly directed to the people around the Chavista leader, who are already contacting the United States.
“There are people in and around the regime who are reaching out to the U.S. government,” Abrams said.
“Maybe people in the regime recognize what they didn’t recognize last summer, which is that the situation is increasingly difficult […] and they need to look for a way out. They need to look for a negotiated, agreed way forward,” the special representative for Venezuela added.
Military option, negotiation
Although he said that military options were on the table “if the president wants to use them,” the diplomat defended the possibility of a negotiation.
“If you want to propose an American invasion, that’s fine, go ahead and propose it. But if that’s not going to happen, then how does this [the situation in Venezuela] come to an end? […] Through a negotiation,” Abrams said.
“You don’t exactly get to choose who you negotiate with. You end up negotiating with the people who are there. Let’s be realistic,” said the diplomat, when asked why they might negotiate with regime officials, many of whom are sanctioned or, who like Maduro or Diosdado Cabello, face charges in the United States for narcotrafficking.
“We could say, here’s how it ends: The opposition, the majority in the National Assembly, takes over tomorrow morning, and everybody connected to the Chavista party and the army goes to jail. Is this a realistic proposal? It is not,” said Abrams.