The door is closing on political and financial agreements for Venezuela, as long as Nicolas Maduro and his cabinet remain at the helm of government. Many question the motives behind U.S. State Department accusations and its rationale for issuing them now when humanity is experiencing the severity of the COVID-19 crisis.
It is the perfect storm: Venezuela’s economic crisis and the arrival of the coronavirus. There is no way to face this new drama without international aid. There is a lack of gasoline, four refineries are 80% paralyzed, public and sanitary services have collapsed, and industries are operating at 20%, without economic reserves.
Maduro revealed his government’s dramatic financial situation, as he requested $5 billion from the 21st century’s great enemy of socialism, the International Monetary Fund. Because that entity does not recognize the legitimacy of his presidency, it is impossible that the IMF will allocate resources. Thus, the Venezuelan president has again asked for dialogue with moderates in the opposition, bypassing Juan Guaído, who is recognized internationally as president of the National Assembly.
Aid provided by Russia and China is not enough to cover preparations for the pandemic; experts have warned of its potential to spread in Venezuela.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, is one of the officials who has handled many of the cases of money laundering, drug trafficking, and corruption involving senior Venezuelan officials and their partners. In reaction to the State Department’s announcement, she indicated that Justice Department investigations into the Maduro regime have been conducted over many years to show all that has been stolen from Venezuela; “It is the reason this day is historic.”*
Fajardo Orshan stressed that although the regime has abandoned its activities, “There is no possibility that we will negotiate with them.”* The prosecutor reiterated that the regime has laundered $400 million in the state of Florida, alone — money that has been frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Fajardo Orshan statement further held that, even with negotiation, those who were identified would be held to answer in the United States. Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for an end to the political crisis in Venezuela, for free elections with a new electoral body, and for lifting of all restrictions on the participation of political parties and individuals in autonomous legislative and presidential elections.
Maduro has rejected these demands outright, as have the most important leaders of the executive branch. Thus, the window for a negotiated resolution seems to have closed, despite the suffering which affects most of the Venezuelan population.
So far, the armed forces, led by General Vladimir Padrino López, who is among the accused , and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, led by Diosdado Cabello, have shown their support for Maduro’s management and his position of not giving in to demands for free elections.
At the same time, Madurism’s position is to block Guaido’s possibility as a factor in any negotiations. For this reason, they are calling on moderates, while accusations intensify against the Guaidó faction and the leaders of Popular Will.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, this quoted remark could not be independently verified.