Thursday, January 09, 2020

U.S. Proposes Negotiated Elections in Venezuela

After so many months of bluster and threats, the Trump administration (or at least the State Department) today issued a very reasonable proposal to hold elections in Venezuela. It allows anyone to run.

A few things come to mind:

First, it requires an interim government that is negotiated and "broadly acceptable." What happens to members of the current government is left unmentioned in this particular document, and that is obviously a major issue.

Second, the Bolivian case requires us to ask what powers the interim government will have. In Bolivia the interim government is upending foreign policy and pursuing the ousted president.

Third, and related to #2, will an interim government have U.S. sanctions lifted? I would assume so, and that would facilitate needed revenue in the short-term before some new government deals with the oil industry disaster.

Fourth, this has Mike Pompeo's stamp of approval, but what about Trump? Perhaps he cares little enough about Venezuela that he is actually willing to delegate rather than blowing it out of the water with an ill-timed tweet. That came up over and over with regard to immigration, but of course he cares about that a lot more.

Fifth, is the U.S. talking to Russia about this? That does require Trump himself.

Despite the uncertainty, it is entirely good for the U.S. to put negotiated elections front and center in Venezuela policy.


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