Politics

U.S. Calls on World to Recognize Venezuela’s New Leader

John Bolton, national security adviser, detailed the diplomatic pressures that are being leveraged to ensure a transition of power

Image Credit: YURI CORTEZ & FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday John Bolton detailed the particular diplomatic pressures the administration is leveraging to ensure a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela.

The South American country has faced hardship and civil unrest since its socialist economy began collapsing in recent years.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (shown above left) has refused to concede power after opponents in the national legislature took emergency actions to vote in interim President Juan Guaidó (above right).

Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Bolton reviewed the steps the Trump administration has taken to put pressure on the regime to give up power peacefully. The administration has blocked $7 billion in assets from Venezuela’s state-run oil company.

Additionally, Bolton also expects $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year. The administration is are also urging the world to stand by the country’s new president.

Related: Media Yawn at Venezuela’s Spiraling, Socialist Nightmare

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“This is a statement that the people Venezuela have had enough of oppression, corruption and economic hardship,” Bolton said Monday. “We have continued to expose the corruption of Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that they can no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people.”

President Donald Trump officially recognized the interim president in a statement on January 23. He called the national assembly the only legitimate branch of government that the Venezuelan people duly elected. Twenty-one other governments have joined Trump in recognizing Guaidó as the interim president.

“We also today call on the Venezuelan military and security forces to accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power and to a certain extent this has already begun,” Bolton said. “We’ve seen Venezuelan officials and military personnel heeding this call.”

Venezuela has spiraled into economic disaster and civil chaos since its former socialist president, Hugo Chávez, passed away in March 2013.

Maduro has since faced deadly protests and riots as civil unrest and desperation have taken hold.

Many Venezuelans are starving, due to shortages of food and other essentials.

Related: White House: U.S. ‘Stands with the People of Venezuela’

“I call on all responsible nations to recognize interim president Guaidó immediately,” Bolton said on Monday. “Maduro said he would not recognize Guaidó or call for new elections. Now is [the] time to stand for the prosperity of Venezuela. I reiterate the United States will hold Venezuelan security forces responsible for the safety of all U.S. diplomatic personnel, the national assembly and President Guaidó.”

Maduro and his loyalists in the government have taken questionable actions against political opponents. The Venezuela Supreme Court stripped the National Assembly of its power months after the anti-socialists elected a majority in December 2015.

Government forces have also killed protesters and rioters.

The economic downturn has been severe for the South American nation. The Venezuelan inflation rate hit 1,300,000 percent year-on-year, according to some estimates, in November of 2018.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also participated in the press conference on Monday.

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