Biden to Seek Talks With Maduro Regime in Reversal of Trump Plan
President-elect Joe Biden’s advisers are preparing to negotiate with Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela in an effort to end the Western Hemisphere’s worst economic and humanitarian crisis, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The Biden administration intends to push for free and fair elections, offering sanctions relief in return, said the people, who requested anonymity because the new team is forming. In a departure from the Trump administration, which insisted it would only negotiate the terms of Maduro’s surrender, Biden’s advisers aren’t setting that as a precondition and are open to direct talks.
The president-elect’s team will review existing sanctions to determine where to expand restrictions with the help of international allies and what measures might get lifted if Maduro moves toward the democratic objective, the people said. Maduro’s foreign backers, including Russia, China and Iran, are expected to play a role, as will Cuba, which is keen to improve relations with the U.S.
Biden’s advisers have called the Venezuela crisis the biggest diplomatic challenge he’ll face in the Western Hemisphere. More than 5 million people have fled the South American country in recent years, escaping unrelenting economic convulsions punctuated with gang violence, power failures, widespread food shortages and the left-wing government’s hostility to dissent.
Maduro has signaled an interest in improving relations when Biden takes office,expressing his desire for the new administration to ease sanctions that have crushed the nation’s oil revenue. The Venezuelan economy is expected to contract by one-third in 2020, according to Caracas-based Ecoanalitica.
Domestically, Biden will fulfill his pledge on Temporary Protected Status, which would allow Venezuelans who fled to the U.S. to stay, the people said.
A spokesperson for the Biden-Harris transition declined to comment.
On this Venezuelan Independence Day, my thoughts are with Venezuelans who continue to work tirelessly for the cause of democracy. It’s time for free and fair elections so that the Venezuelan people can turn the page on the corrupt and repressive Maduro regime.11:10 PM · Jul 5, 2020
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