[News] Biden Administration Rules Out Maduro Talks, Pledges Support for Guaido

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Sat Feb 6 16:57:29 EST 2021

https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15114 Biden Administration Rules Out
Maduro Talks, Pledges Support for Guaido
By Rachael Boothroyd

Merseyside, UK, February 6, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Newly sworn-in US
President Joe Biden has discarded dialogue with the Nicolas Maduro

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price ruled out any “direct contact” with
the Venezuelan president in a press briefing
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1ZYlvEBveY> Wednesday, adding that the
administration considers him “a dictator.”

“The overriding goal of the Biden-Harris administration is to support a
peaceful, democratic transition in Venezuela through free and fair
presidential and parliamentary elections,” he said.

For its part, the Venezuelan government has called for improved relations
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15046> with its US counterpart based on
mutual respect.

Outlining the White House’s foreign policy approach to Venezuela for the
first time, Price reiterated Washington’s support for opposition leader
Juan Guaido.

“The United States continues to recognise the 2015 National Assembly as the
last remaining democratic institution in Venezuela, and consistent with
that the person chosen by the National Assembly… to be interim president of
Venezuela, Juan Guaido,” he stated.

When pressed about Guaido’s fading international support and whether the
administration believed him to be the best person to lead the country’s
opposition, Price sidestepped questions and stated that the US would work
alongside “partners and allies” such as the Organization of American States
and the Lima Group.

As a relatively unknown lawmaker, Guaido made a bid to unseat Venezuelan
President Nicolas Maduro by declaring
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14244> himself “interim president” in
January 2019. Though he initially secured the backing of the United States
and its allies in Europe and the Americas, his support has since
significantly waned both at home and abroad after failing to make good on
his promise to remove the Venezuelan president.

Guaido lost his standing as congressional leader
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14755> after an opposition sector broke
ranks in late 2019. Parliamentary elections in December 2020 then delivered
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15070> an overwhelming majority for the
ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela after being boycotted
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14960> by the country’s hard line

The self-proclaimed “interim president” instead vowed to extend
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15089> the outgoing National Assembly’s
term. However, his standing has become increasingly questioned amidst
opposition ranks, with twice presidential candidate and opposition veteran
Henrique Capriles Radonski urging <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15076>
the Biden administration to drop its support for a “finished” Guaido.

The State Department’s reiterated support came after the European Union’s
27 member states reversed their position
with regards to Guaido earlier in January this year, confirming that the
organisation would no longer recognise him as interim head of state.

Though Price’s comments dispel suggestions that Biden looks set to depart
from his predecessor's policy toward Venezuela, it is still unclear whether
his administration will modify the wide-reaching sanctions
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/sanctions> on the country’s economy
enacted by former President Donald Trump, especially targeting the oil
industry <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15095>.

At the beginning of February, the US Treasury issued a license modification
<https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/venezuela_gl30a.pdf> allowing
certain “necessary” transactions involving Venezuela’s National Institute
of Aquatic Spaces (INEA) in the country’s ports and airports - a move
which some
as an early indication that Biden administration would move to relax his
predecessor’s sanctions, despite promises to make them “more effective

However, Price made no mention of any intention to roll back the Treasury’s
unilateral measures and stipulated that the US would continue to “target
regime officials and cronies involved in corruption and human rights

The sanctions are widely regarded as having devastated the country’s
economy, as well as causing at least some 40,000 deaths
between 2017-2018. The Maduro government has filed a lawsuit
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14790> at the International Criminal
Court (ICC), arguing that the US blockade amounts to a “crime against

Oil corporations, including US oil giant Chevron
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14852> and India’s Reliance Industries
have likewise lobbied <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15107> Washington
to reverse some of the measures, which include an embargo on Venezuelan oil
sales and the blacklisting of any company which does business with
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

*Edited and with additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.*
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