The U.S. announced a plan to support a new political path within Venezuela on March 31, according to the Associated Press. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a plan for a transitional government after Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader backed by the U.S., suggested a similar idea over the weekend. If the formation of a transitional, governmental council is successful, then the U.S. plan will provide a much-needed break from sanctions on former officials and the oil industry. To receive economic relief, the authoritarian former president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, must accept the democratic transitional government. Additionally, all Cuban and Russian military forces must leave Venezuela too.
Today the U.S. presented a framework for a democratic transition as a clear, equitable, and common sense path to end the political crisis in #Venezuela. Economic pressure will continue until Maduro accepts a genuine democratic transition.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 31, 2020
The transitional government will consist of five people as well as require both Madura and Guaidó to remove themselves from their claims as Venezuelan leaders. The concept of a council to serve as interim leaders of the country arrives as worry for the economy and a strained health care system swell.
Four of the five council members will be selected by the National Assembly which Guaidó leads. The fifth member who would act as interim president would be chosen by the other four council members. Neither Guaidó nor Maduro is allowed to be on the council. Pompeo has stated that Guaidó will be able to run for president in the upcoming election within the next year.
“The hope is that this setup promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told the Associated Press. “Even people in the regime look at this and realize Maduro has to go, but the rest of us are being treated well and fairly.”
The council of state would be served by its five members until elections for both a new president and new parliamentary representatives could be held. These elections would be scheduled and must take place within the next six months to one year. The military, which often decides political disputes in Venezuela, will remain in place for the council. The military has continued to back Maduro, and this proposal is an attempt by the U.S. to separate the two, according to the Associated Press.
“This framework can provide a path that ends the suffering and opens the path to a brighter future for Venezuela,” said Pompeo.
The U.S. has imposed strict sanctions on the struggling country for more than a decade in response to Maduro, according to the Federation of American Scientists. The oil industry is a great source of the country’s foreign income, and lifting sanctions on Maduro’s officials provides strong incentives for the former president to cooperate.