Venezuela is a country in crisis. With the authoritarian rule of Nicolás Maduro still clinging to his power in the South American nation, and the opposition leader Juan Guaidó vying for what many believe to be his rightful role as president, the people of Venezuela, along with the army, have risen up. Thousands have taken to the streets in protest that Maduro is still in office.
Across the world, more than 50 countries have publicly declared their support of Guaidó as the rightful leader of the country, including the United States. This has not stopped Maduro from maintaining his seat as president. Now, in an effort to force their hand and help those in the worst conditions in the country, U.S. senators have signed a bill that will authorize $40 million in aid, according to CBS News.
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez championed the bill, which has bipartisan support.
Aside from a hefty check for aid, the bill also “directs the State Department to work with European governments to replicate U.S. efforts and issue their own sanctions.” Menendez hopes that by having support in sanctions from other first world countries, Maduro will have no choice but to step down from the presidency and concede defeat to Guaidó.
“That is something that would be incredibly powerful, knowing that the sanctions that would levied are not just by the United States against the Maduro regime, but internationally. That’s something that could significantly change the dynamics. It sends Maduro a message, as well as Russia and China that are helping to prop up Maduro.”
Russia and China are currently the two biggest countries that have offered their support to Maduro as the leader of Venezuela, along with a host of Middle Eastern countries.
The bill, which is being called the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act of 2019, has support from both Democratic and Republican senators, with big names including that of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Dick Durbin, Ben Cardin, and Tim Kaine.
It could also create some travel issues for the families of “high-ranking Venezuelan officials,” with visa restrictions suggested in the bill. They will have to prove they have not been involved in any “human rights abuses” in order to obtain a visa waiver.
The unrest in the country stems around a controversial election which is widely believed to have been rigged by Maduro to stay in power. Most believe that Guaidó was the true winner of the election. Despite this, Maduro’s government has refused to step down, and has been working to try and discredit Guaidó in any way they can, most recently lifting his immunity from prosecution, according to the BBC.
Guaidó is not backing down though, refusing to let the threat of prosecution stop him from fighting Maduro’s government. He has made a renewed call for protests planned for Saturday, taking to Twitter to reach his support base.