The administration of US President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly been refusing to talk to opposition leader Juan Guaido and may drop the demand for President Nicolas Maduro to step down from power.
According to Bloomberg, Biden is willing to negotiate with President Maduro and is not setting his resignation as a precondition, unlike Trump, who designated Venezuela as part of a Latin American “troika of tyranny” and pounded with relentless sanctions.
The Biden administration will offer sanctions relief in exchange for “free and fair elections” and other concessions, the report said, adding that the US will seek assistance from foreign backers of Venezuela, including Russia, China, Iran and Cuba.
Commenting on the report, Russia Today said that whatever policy change the Biden administration may bring, “it is unlikely to be drastic.”
It noted that Venezuela was sparsely sanctioned under the Obama administration, and while Biden is said to be reviewing how Trump used the tool, he reportedly plans only to “recalibrate” the US sanctions regime, withdrawing some of the punitive measures, but possibly imposing more in some cases.
The Russian network quoted Elliott Abrams, Trump’s envoy on Iran and Venezuela, as saying that the Biden administration should ‘appreciate’ Trump’s heavy-handed approach because “it strengthens their hand,” in a sort of bad-cop-good-cop game against targeted nations.
Washington significantly ramped up sanctions on Venezuela in 2017, crippling its oil export revenue, cutting it from international financial markets and otherwise undercutting its economy.
In January last year, it supported Juan Guaido, then little-known freshly-appointed head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. He declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, alleging that Maduro’s reelection as the head of the nation had been rigged.