John Kerry announced talks will be held with the Venezuelan government. The U.S. side will be led by Tom Shannon, who is an old hand at this. This comes right after Kerry supported Luis Almagro's push for invoking the OAS' Democratic Charter and launching regional discussion about Venezuela's crisis.
With these positive examples in mind, we remain strongly committed to working with all OAS member-states in order to remedy the deeply troubling situation in Venezuela. Like all people of the Americas, Venezuelans have the right to use constitutional mechanisms to express their will in a peaceful and a democratic manner. The United States joins with Secretary General Almagro and others in the international community in calling on the Venezuelan Government to release political prisoners, to respect freedom of expression and assembly, to alleviate shortages of food and medicine, and to honor its own constitutional mechanisms, including a fair and timely recall referendum that is part of that constitutional process. The secretary general’s invocation of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter will open a much-needed discussion about Venezuela within this organization’s permanent council, and we stand ready to participate in that discussion, and along with our OAS partners, help facilitate that national dialogue that will ultimately address the political, economic, social and humanitarian dimensions of this crisis. I emphasize the humanitarian dimensions. Just this morning, we learned of people who are dying in a food line, or waiting to get medical help that they need.
In recent months a key U.S. goal has been to avoid complete implosion in Venezuela. Violence and/or a power vacuum just allows more drugs to flow, more humanitarian disaster for Colombia, and more disintegration of PDVSA.
Diplomacy has been good cop, bad cop, though the "bad" is pretty mild. There is not much the U.S. can do unilaterally. What we can hope is that U.S. actions help prompt Latin American countries to do more. The State Department knows that very well:
“If it’s the U.S. versus Venezuela, that plays into Maduro’s hands,” explained a senior administration official. “It has to be led by Latin Americans. It can’t be led by us.”
Yes, this is the crux of the matter. Latin America needs to take charge here.