The long-driven effort of erstwhile US President Donald Trump to oust the Maduro government in Venezuela proved to be singularly unsuccessful. While at office, Trump had everything possible in its power to pressure Venezuela to oust the Maduro government and place Juan Guaido as the new Venezuelan President. He even went further to recognise Juan as the ‘interim President’ of the country. Though unlike his predecessor George W Bush, Trump had a financial approach to applying pressure. He blocked the country’s economy from growing which had devastating effects over the poor and middle class. The Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research calculated that this led to more than 40,000 deaths in 2017-18 alone. So much so that even the UN had to intervene in the matter. UN human rights rapporteur Alena Douhan concluded from meetings with various Venezuelan sectors that “the sanctions and unilateral coercive measures applied by the United States and the European Union, as a deliberate tool to achieve regime change in Venezuela, flagrantly violate international law and all universal and regional human rights instruments.” Donald Trump and the EU are firm believers that the current Maduro government is greatly aligned to China and Russia besides alleging that the Maduro government lacked popular support for the country.
Interestingly, the Biden administration after taking over from Trump still continues to recognise Juan as the ‘interim President’. Biden even pointed to working together and exerting pressure on the Venezuelan government so that the country may return to democracy soon. This, the official US Congressional Research Service report acknowledged the limits of the US with its failure to dislodge Maduro from power and other international efforts to prompt political change in Venezuela. Rather the US oil sanctions, among others worsened the crisis in the country and even divided the international coalition once backed Guaido.
On the other hand, it seems that the Biden administration might even be open for a dialogue with Maduro now that Trump is gone. The step taken by the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives, Gregory Meeks and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson of opening a discussion with the Maduro government, indicate Biden’s interest in amicably resolving differences. However, the EU still has sanctions over Venezuela despite the UN stating countries not to interfere in a sovereign nation’s internal matters, especially for regime change. On the other hand, the US’s treatment of Venezuela is in stark contrast to its relations with Honduras and Colombia, which it continues to support despite overwhelming evidence of their governments’ corruption and brutality.All in all, a large section of people in Venezuela are living in abject poverty courtesy of the sanctions by the EU and USA. It’s time that they left Venezuela to run its affairs and recover their falling economy and deal with the Covid pandemic. The UN must come in and put a stop on sanctions against Venezuela and help it re-build its democracy