The US Government maintains that the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, is a “dictator” and, therefore, rules out that there could be a “direct contact” with his Administration in the short term, among other reasons because it considers that the oppositionist Juan Guaidó is the “interim president” of the country.
The United States was the first country to recognize in January 2019 Guaidó as ‘in charge’ president of Venezuela and, despite the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House, it will continue in the same line. Thus, it also does not consider valid the parliamentary elections called by chavismo in December and maintains that Guaidó and his National Assembly — “the last remaining democratic institution” — remain the legitimate powers.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price has pointed to Maduro’s “repression, corruption and mismanagement” as responsible for “one of the most serious humanitarian crises the Western hemisphere” has seen, and that Washington continues to advocate a “peaceful democratic transition” in Venezuela.
This transition involves “free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” “to help Venezuelans rebuild their lives and their country,” in Price’s words. “Venezuelans have a right to democracy and to a government that promotes and defends it,” he added at a press conference.
According to Price, Biden has promised protection for Venezuelans who have fled and sanctions against Chavista leaders “implicated in corruption and human rights abuses”, which invites to rule out, at least for now, that there could be direct contacts with Venezuelan authorities.
Maduro has raised this possibility after the presidential change in the United States, but the State Department has stressed that for now the strategy will continue to be to work together with “allies”, both in the region of the Americas and in Europe. In this sense, Price has cited forums such as the Organization of American States (OAS) or the Lima Group.
The positioning of the United States differs from that of the European Union, which chooses to speak of Guaidó as a “privileged interlocutor” and to leave any additional considerations in the hands of each of the member states.