April 24, 2019
United States policy on Venezuela is focused on ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections that bring prosperity and democracy back to the people of Venezuela. In service of this goal, the United States has undertaken a series of strong policy actions since 2017 meant to pressure the former Maduro regime and support democratic actors.
VENEZUELA CRISIS RESPONSE ASSISTANCE
U.S. assistance to support the regional response to the crisis includes:
- Total regional support is more than $256 million, including:
- More than $213 million in humanitarian response.
- $43 million in economic and development assistance.
- On January 24, Secretary Pompeo announced the United States is ready to provide an additional $20 million in initial humanitarian assistance to the people inside Venezuela.
The U.S. government has made over 150 designations of individuals and entities in Venezuela since 2017 via Executive Orders (E.O.) and the Kingpin Act. This includes 10 sets of designations in 2019 alone of multiple individuals, entities, and listings of properties. Such actions ensure the former Maduro regime cannot rely on the U.S. financial system for its destructive practices.
- E.O. 13692 (March 8, 2015): Targets those engaged in undermining democratic processes or institutions, acts of violence or human rights violations, actions against freedom of expression or peaceful assembly, public corruption by senior government officials, and “status-based” designations for being current or former Venezuelan government officials. There have been 80 actions (73 individuals, 6 entities, 1 identified aircraft) since 2017.
- E.O 13808 (August 24, 2017) and E.O. 13835 (May 21, 2018): Sanctions denying the regime financing and protecting the U.S. financial system from complicity in corruption. Expanded in 2018 to deny regime officials the ability to sell off public assets at “fire sale” prices at the expense of Venezuelan people.
- Kingpin Act Authority: Five sanctioned individuals and 33 entities since 2017.
- E.O. 13827 (March 19, 2018): Prohibits dealings by U.S. persons in digital currencies, tokens, and coins issued by, for, or on behalf of the Maduro regime, including the petro.
- E.O. 13850 (Gold Sector identified November 1, 2018 / in 2019: Oil Sector identified and PDVSA designated January 28 / Evrofinance Mosnarbank designated March 11 / Minerven designated March 19 / BANDES designated March 22 / Oil Sector Shipping companies and vessels facilitating VZ-Cuba oil trade designated April 5 and 12: Targets people operating in any sector of the Venezuelan economy in which the Maduro regime plunders Venezuela’s wealth for its own corrupt purposes. There have been 37 actions against 7 individuals, 30 entities, and listings of 1 identified aircraft, and 44 vessels since 2019.
MULTILATERAL MEETINGS AND RESOLUTIONS
- Organization of American States (OAS): In June 2018, the OAS General Assembly declared Venezuela’s May 2018 Presidential election lacked legitimacy and did not meet international standards. The OAS Permanent Council did not recognize the second term of Nicolas Maduro and underscored the constitutional authority of the democratically elected National Assembly. On January 24, 2019 the United States and 15 other OAS member states recognized Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela. On March 27, 2019, the OAS passed, with 19 member states voting in favor, the resolution “Humanitarian Assistance in Venezuela.” Another March 27 OAS statement reiterated its stance against Russian incursions, calling them unconstitutional. The OAS approved a resolution to accept Guaidó’s nominee Gustavo Tarre as Venezuela’s representative to the Permanent Council on April 9.
- United Nations (UN): Since 2017, the United States has called four Venezuela meetings, including two emergency meetings in 2019. The United States put forward a UN Security Council resolution on Venezuela February 28, which Russia and China vetoed. On April 10, VP Pence delivered remarks at a Special Session of the UN Security Council on the crisis in Venezuela.
- The Lima Group (LG): The group, originally 12 countries (now 14), formed in August 2017 to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis and lead regional efforts. They issued a 17-point declaration February 4, 2019 stating Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru “reiterate their recognition and support for Juan Guaidó” as interim President of Venezuela. Thirteen countries joined a March 26 statement condemning military provocation in Venezuela following the arrival of Russian military personnel in Venezuela. The group met in Chile April 15 and released a 17-point statement calling on the UN, the ICC, and other international organizations for support; rejecting military intervention; and urging unity of process among partners working to support Venezuela.
- Inter-American Development Bank (IDB): With U.S. support, the IDB Board of Governors approved a resolution recognizing Juan Guaidó’s representative, Ricardo Hausmann, on March 15, 2019. In an effort not to recognize Hausmann, China denied his attendance at the annual IDB meeting in Chengdu, even under U.S. and LG protest and threat of not attending. In response, China cancelled the meeting.
- European Union (EU): The EU International Contact Group (ICG) ended a March 28 meeting in Quito with a declaration that proposes electoral observation and a roadmap to convoke elections in Venezuela. The European Parliament released a non-binding Venezuela resolution March 27 reiterating support for Guaidó and the National Assembly, calling for additional sanctions, decrying Cuban influence in Venezuela, and denouncing the Marrero and Requesens detentions.
KEY OUTCOMES IN 2019
- Juan Guaidó announced his interim presidency under the Venezuelan constitution in January.
- Fifty four countries have recognized Interim President Juan Guaidó.
- Interim President Guaidó appointed 36 country and three institution representatives.
- On February 5, the U.S. Chief of Protocol received Carlos Vecchio’s credentials as appointed Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States. On April 8, President Trump received Ambassador Vecchio’s credentials in a White House credentialing ceremony.
- More than 1,000 members of the military have recognized Juan Guaido as interim President, defected from Venezuela, and entered Colombia where they are receiving UNHCR and Colombian government assistance.
- U.S. refiner Citgo is now under the control of the interim government.
- Roughly $3.2 billion of Venezuela’s assets overseas are frozen.
- Venezuela’s oil production fell to 736,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March, less than half of production in March 2018, and substantially reducing revenue to the Maduro regime. Two of four upgraders restarted, after nationwide power outages rendered the upgraders inoperable.
- An estimated 25 crude oil tankers with 12 million barrels remain stranded off the coast of Venezuela, due to difficulties finding buyers. Reportedly PDVSA is offering a 25% discount on the stranded crude but require purchasers to load within port.
- The interim government continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people. In the first two weeks of April, it hosted 18 health fairs in over 15 communities providing medical and hygiene attention to over 6,000 Venezuelans.
- Diplomatic pressure resulted in fewer markets for Venezuelan gold. A UAE bank cancelled the purchase of Venezuela gold and there are indications gold exports to Turkey have fallen.
- The United States has imposed visa restrictions on individuals responsible for undermining Venezuela’s democracy, including numerous Maduro-aligned officials and their families
- Since January 10, 2019, the United States has revoked 718 visas, including 107 former diplomatic personnel. Visa records are confidential under U.S. law, therefore no additional information on these individuals can be provided.