Venezuela’s crisis deepens each day as oil prices fall and COVID-19 spreads.The United States has announced a plan to help Venezuelans escape from years of repression and political conflict.
The Democratic Transition Framework proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo calls on both the Nicholas Maduro regime and Interim President Juan Guaidó to step aside so that the National Assembly can create a Council of State to serve as the transitional government, which would hold free and fair presidential elections.
U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams cautioned in a recent newspaper editorial that “democracy isn’t only about elections.”It requires establishing a new, balanced, and independent National Electoral Council – and it requires replacing the current Maduro-run Supreme Court with independent justices. Moreover, “A vibrant democracy also demands a free and independent media with an end to the regime’s pervasive censorship,” wrote Special Representative Abrams.
The United States supports a return to democracy in Venezuela and this means that every political party must be able to compete on a level playing field in free and fair elections. “The U.S. will recognize the results of a free and fair election,” said Special Representative Abrams, “no matter which party wins; what we oppose is the abuse of state power that enables one party to rule indefinitely.”
U.S. sanctions have not prevented food or medicine from reaching Venezuelans, said Mr. Abrams.Instead, U.S. economic pressure is aimed at depriving, “the [Maduro] regime of the income it uses for repression -- or steals through vast corruption -- and forc[ing] the regime to agree to presidential elections.”
The military will play an essential role in bringing about peaceful change and shaping Venezuela’s future.“The military and police,” said Mr. Abrams, “must abandon the role the Maduro regime has forged for them -- carrying out the repression of the Venezuelan people.The military must also join in expelling the Cuban intelligence agents.”
The United States is prepared to work with all Venezuelans and with other nations and lift sanctions when the necessary conditions for free and fair elections are met. The Democratic Transition Framework, said Secretary Pompeo, “can provide a path that ends the suffering and opens the path to a brighter future for Venezuela.”