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Iran Press TV

Details spill to media of US 'framework' for Venezuela

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 31 March 2020 3:23 PM

A plan that the United States is to unveil for Venezuela envisages the removal of sanctions on the Latin American country if democratically-elected President Nicola Maduro hands over power, according to reports.

Venezuela plunged into an unprecedented political turmoil in January last year, when US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself "interim president" of the Latin American country, challenging the outcome of the 2018 presidential election, which Maduro had won.

Guaido also later launched an abortive coup against Maduro's elected government.

Guaido's self-proclamation as president and his failed putsch received full support from Washington. Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump has been escalating tensions against oil-rich Venezuela, imposing rounds of more crippling sanctions on it, and has flirted with the idea of using military force to take out Maduro's government.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to announce Washington's so-called "Democratic Transition Framework" for Venezuela. The plan, according to a document seen by Reuters and AP in advance, will offer a "sequenced exit path" from the tough US sanctions if Maduro resigns.

US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told Reuters that the plan would require President Maduro to resign and Guido to step aside and hand power to a five-member council of state to govern Venezuela until presidential and parliamentary elections could to be held late this year.

Four of the members would be chosen by the opposition-controlled National Assembly that Guaido heads. The fifth member, who would serve as interim president until elections are held, would be selected by the first four.

The plan also outlines Washington's requirements for lifting sanctions against Venezuelan government officials and the oil sector and state oil company PDVSA, which provides nearly all of Venezuela's foreign income.

"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," AP quoted Abrams as saying on Tuesday, insisting that in order for the sanctions to be lifted, all foreign military forces – an apparent reference to Cuban or Russian military advisers – would need to leave the country.

The so-called framework will arrive at a time when all the measures the Trump administration has applied to unseat Maduro and hand power over to Guaido have failed. For months, Washington had also been attempting unsuccessfully to break the Venezuelan military's support for Maduro.

The initiative also comes less than a week after Washington accused Maduro and several of his close allies of "drug trafficking" and put a reward for information that could lead to their arrest.

The sweeping US sanctions have been hampering Venezuela's efforts to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Abrams said that if the plan was adopted, there would be the possibility of aid for Venezuela from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has formerly rejected Maduro's request for five billion dollars to help fight the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

As of Tuesday, 135 people have tested positive for the disease in Venezuela and three others have died, according to official figures.

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