On March 31, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, proposed setting up a transitional Council of State to replace the institutional role currently exercised by the Venezuelan Presidency. This Council would represent both supporters of Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó. This proposal comes within the framework of Nicolas Maduro’s request to U.S. President Donald Trump to eliminate economic sanctions against Venezuela to allow the country access to more resources to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. government announced that if this proposal is accepted, the United States would be willing to lift the sanctions imposed on the South American country.
Pompeo explained that the plan calls for presidential and legislative elections in six months or a year and that neither Maduro or Guaidó will be able to be members of the Council of State. This announcement is in line with National Assembly President Juan Guaidó’s proposal to promote the formation of an emergency government made up of members from the entire political spectrum to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which was openly rejected by Maduro’s government.
What are the conditions requested by the United States?
The US government requested the restoration of the full powers of the National Assembly (NA), including immunity for its deputies. It also requested that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSJ) withdraw the contempt order against opposition deputies and that the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) be dissolved. In addition, it demanded the release of all political prisoners and the withdrawal from the country of all foreign security forces.
How would the Council of State be formed?
The Council of State would be formed as the new Executive Power through a law passed by the National Assembly. It would be composed of four members elected by the parties or coalitions that have at least 25% of the seats in the NA. In turn, these four members would have to choose a fifth member, who would serve as Interim President until elections are called. This member may not stand as a candidate in the presidential elections. All decisions shall be taken by simple majority, that is, by three or more votes, and the ultimate purpose of the Council shall be to call and carry out the elections.
Maduro Government response
Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, rejected the U.S. proposal for a political transition and said “they can say what they want, when they want, how they want, but decisions in Venezuela are made in Venezuela, with its institutions and its Constitution. We are not under the guardianship of the United States.”
Juan Guaidó’s response
The President of the National Assembly welcomed the support of the United States for the formation of an Emergency Government and Council of State to deal with the crisis. Likewise, Guaidó asked Maduro to “take responsibility and accept the offer made by the international community”, adding that some Maduro supporters “have understood that this is the only option to overcome the crisis”. The president of the NA declared that “we are going to do everything to preserve the lives of our people.”