The United States on Tuesday called on Venezuela’s Juan Guaido to renounce his claim to the presidency at least temporarily as it recalibrated its strategy to oust leader Nicolas Maduro.
In a shift after more than a year of U.S.-led efforts to topple the leftist Maduro, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Maduro and Guaido should set up a transitional government to arrange elections in six to 12 months.
But Pompeo signaled that U.S. goals have not changed, saying that Guaido was welcome to run in future elections while Maduro must leave power.
“We’ve made clear all along that Nicolas Maduro will never again govern Venezuela,” Pompeo told reporters.
Six months ago, while Maduro was considering his answer, the US applied even more severe sanctions and J Bolton said the time for talking was over. https://t.co/9kf3749VOf
— Phil Gunson (@philgunson) March 31, 2020
Asked if Guaido could run, Pompeo said: “Absolutely yes.”
“I think he’s the most popular politician in Venezuela. I think if there were an election held today, he could do incredibly well,” Pompeo said.
“But more importantly we continue to support him. When we put together this pathway to democracy, we work closely with him.”
In August 2019, while talks between the opposition and the government were ongoing, Guaido had made a similar power-sharing offer to Maduro. But before the president could respond, the Trump administration announced sweeping new sanctions against Venezuela, leading to the break down of the negotiations.
Elliott Abrams, the U.S. pointman on Venezuela, said that the United States still recognized Guaido as interim president.
Some 60 nations share the U.S. recognition of Guaido and support the removal of Maduro, who presides over a crumbling economy that has sent millions fleeing.
But Maduro remains in power with the support of the military as well as Russia and China.