On March 31st, the Trump administration formally revealed the Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally announced the administration’s plan for Venezuela, which offers for the first time a “sequenced exit path” from tough US sanctions, including on the vital oil sector, if Maduro and his allies cooperate.
“If the conditions of the framework are met, including the departure of all foreign security forces,” Pompeo told reporters, “then all remaining US sanctions would be lifted.”
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 US further hopes that the Saudi-initiated oil price war with Russia is impacting Venezuela strongly, and it is under even more pressure.
“The regime is now under heavier pressure than it has ever been,” US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told Reuters News Agency. “Maybe this pressure will lead to a serious discussion within the regime.”
The US proposal, which Abrams said was approved by Trump, calls for Maduro to “step aside” and for the opposition-controlled National Assembly “to elect an inclusive transitional government acceptable to the major factions”. This council of state would govern until it oversees elections, which Pompeo said the United States hoped could be held in six to 12 months.
In response on, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza assured that his country’s sovereignty is not negotiable and rejected a proposal by the United States for a “political transition.”
“They can say what they want when they want, and how they want. However, the decisions on Venezuela are made in Venezuela with its institutions and constitution. We are not supervised by the United States,” Arreaza said.
On March 26th, the US State Department designated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other Venezuelan government officials with narco-terrorism and other criminal charges.
US prosecutors say that Maduro and top parliamentary, military and judiciary officials lead the so-called Cartel de los Soles, a group the US has long said was made up of corrupt current and former Venezuelan military members involved in trafficking and other crimes.
In addition to Maduro, those facing charges include:
Diosdado Cabello Rondón, leader of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly; Vladimir Padrino Lopez, defense minister; Maikel Jose Moreno Perez, Venezuelan Supreme Court chief justice; Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, former military intelligence director; Clíver Antonio Alcalá Cordones, former military general; and top FARC leaders Luciano Marín Arango and Seuxis Paucis Hernández Solarte.
Notably, the US Department of State is offering a $15 million bounty for information that leads to the arrest and/or conviction of Maduro, the others designated have smaller prices on their heads.
The U.S. government in an extravagant, extremist and vulgar action, made a set of false accusations, placing a price on the heads of revolutionaries who are willing to fight them in all fields and continue defeating them. Maximum Moral! pic.twitter.com/zhn2AisygH
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) March 27, 2020
On March 30th, President Maduro asked the international community for its support to stop the persecution that the U.S. is executing against his country amidst the pandemic.
“I ask for your invaluable support in the face of this unusual and arbitrary persecution, which is executed through a refreshed version of that stale McCarthyism unleashed after the Second World War. Then they pleasantly labeled their adversaries as Communists to persecute them, today they do so through the whimsical categories of terrorists or drug traffickers,” the Bolivarian president said.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, responding to US drug trafficking charges against Maduro and other members of the Venezuelan government, said the Trump administration is “using a new form of coup d’état on the basis of vulgar, miserable and unfounded accusations,” and “is trying to minimize the recognition that Venezuela has achieved in the fight against drug trafficking.”
Arreaza added that the criminal charges against Maduro and others are a sign of “desperation” from Washington, whose attempts to oust the Venezuelan regime have been unsuccessful.
“The deep frustration of the White House is a product of the peace that reigns in Venezuela today, whose authorities have managed to neutralize coups and destabilizing attempts planned and financed from the United States,” the foreign minister said.
Finally, he questioned the timing of the charges – during the COVID-19 hysteria.
“The government of Donald Trump does not accept that, using a unique model of its own, the government of Nicolas Maduro is adequately managing the threats of Covid-19 in the face of the resounding failure that US institutions have shown in this matter.”
— Alberto Torres (@Marabino2010) March 26, 2020
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Attorney General Tarek William Saab on March 27th requested Colombia to extradite former officers and other conspirators accused of crimes of treason, illicit arms trafficking, terrorism, and attempted assassination.
Just days later, on March 31st, he summoned US-proclaimed Venezuelan President Juan Guaido to appear before court and face charges of orchestrating a coup.
#EnVideo 📹 | Fiscal General, @TarekWiliamSaab: Hemos emitido una citación para que comparezca en este Ministerio Público el próximo jueves a las 9 de la mañana, uno de los principales responsables del nuevo intento de golpe de Estado, Juan Guaido pic.twitter.com/5IugY6O1HL
— VTV CANAL 8 (@VTVcanal8) March 31, 2020
The objective is for him to appear before the prosecutor who is handling the case for the attempted coup d’état and assassination of government officials. He has been implicated over the accusations made in recent days by Clíver Alcalá Cordones.
On March 23rd, an arsenal of weapons was seized in Colombian territory that was to be illegally transferred to Venezuela to be used against the authorities by assault groups previously trained in Colombia.
From Barranquilla, Alcalá publicly confessed his participation in the event and assured that he had Guaidó’s instructions. Likewise, the agreement for the purchase of arms was signed by the opposition deputy and political adviser JJ Rendón.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
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