The United States announced on March 31 that they are prepared to lift sanctions against Venezuela if both Nicolás Maduro and Interim President Juan Guaidó step aside and agree to a transitional government guided by both ruling parties.
The plan was outlined by the U.S. special representative to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, in an opinion piece published on the same day by The Wall Street Journal, prior to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making the announcement at a press conference.
Pompeo said sanctions would be lifted only after a transitional government had been established and “foreign security forces” — an apparent reference to Cuba (and possibly Russian) agents on the ground — had left Venezuela.
“We hope that every Venezuelan will consider this framework,” Pompeo said. “We’ve made clear all along that Nicolás Maduro will never again govern Venezuela,” Pompeo went on to tell reporters.
Currently Maduro is supported by the military as well as Russia and China.
In the op-ed, Abrams announced what he called a Democratic Transition Framework “to help Venezuelans escape from the national crisis that falling oil prices and the coronavirus have now deepened.” The shift in strategy proposes that both Maduro and Guaidó step down and allow the creation of a transitional “Council of State” to set up new free and fair presidential elections in six to 12 months.
Details of the plan include provisions for the military high command to remain in place for the duration of the transitional government, while demanding the full return of all members of the National Assembly, the lifting of contempt orders by the Supreme Court, restoring all powers back to the National Assembly and the immediate freeing and release of all political prisoners.
Asked if Guaidó could run, Pompeo responded: “I think he’s the most popular politician in Venezuela. I think if there were an election held today, he could do incredibly well,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo added that when this plan toward democracy was put together, U.S. officials worked closely with Guaidó.