As Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday thanked ally Iran for helping the South American country overcome U.S. sanctions on its oil industry and floated the idea of purchasing missiles from the country.
Washington maintains strict sanctions against Iran’s oil industry to try to halt the country’s nuclear program. Earlier this year, Tehran sent several gasoline cargoes to Venezuela to help it overcome fuel shortages, as well as equipment to help state oil company PDVSA repair its dilapidated refineries.
Thirty-three countries from around the globe, including members of the Lima Group and the International Contact Group and some European Union member states, signed a joint declaration calling for democracy in Venezuela.
The declaration, released August 14, is a call “to put the interests of Venezuela above politics and engage urgently in support of a process shaped and driven by Venezuelans to establish an inclusive transitional government that will lead the country into free and fair presidential elections, sooner not later,” it says.
Its call for an inclusive transitional government reinforces proposals made by the Venezuelan Interim Government and the U.S. government’s proposed Democratic Transition Framework, released in March.
The framework calls for a transitional government to function as a temporary executive branch. This transitional government would oversee steps leading to a truly free presidential election, ensuring that no candidate has an unfair advantage, and set the country on a path to recovery.
The proposed framework won’t be “a way for Maduro to stay in power in perpetuity, which is what he’s looking for, but it’s a way for everybody around him to say, ‘Actually, we have a pretty good future if we just take it,’” said the State Department’s Michael Kozak at a press availability August 14.
The declaration was signed by a coalition of countries around the world. As of August 19, these countries had signed: Albania, Australia, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.
The declaration calls for all political persecution and acts of repression to end, especially those committed against:
- Human rights defenders.
- Humanitarian actors.
- Health workers.
- Members of Venezuela’s indigenous communities.
- Members of the National Assembly under the leadership of Juan Guaidó.
- The Venezuelan population at large.
“It is time for a peaceful, democratic transition in Venezuela,” said Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on August 14. “The United States and the international community share an obligation to demonstrate and provide support for the Venezuelan people as they strive to reclaim their democracy.”
- Full return of all members of the National Assembly (AN); Supreme Court (TSJ) lifts order of contempt and restores all powers to the AN, including immunities for deputies; National Constituent Assembly (ANC) is dissolved. The U.S. lifts sanctions imposed on ANC members due to their membership in the ANC.
- All political prisoners are released immediately.
- All foreign security forces depart immediately unless authorized by 3/4 vote of the AN.
- AN elects new National Electoral Council (CNE) and TSJ members who are acceptable to all parties or coalitions of parties representing 25% or more of AN membership. (This would give both the PSUV and the multi-party Guaidó coalition a veto over personnel for any of these posts.) Upon the selection of a new CNE and TSJ, the U.S. lifts sanctions imposed on former CNE and TSJ members due to their membership in those bodies.
- AN approves “Council of State” Law, which creates a Council of State that becomes the executive branch. Each party or coalition of parties with 25% or more of AN membership selects two members of the Council of State, one of whom must be a state governor. The four members of the Council of State then select a fifth member, to be Secretary General, and who serves as Interim President until the elections and is not permitted to be a candidate for president in the elections. Council members may not be members of the AN or TSJ. Decisions of the Council of State will be reached by majority vote. One member of the National Armed Forces of Venezuela (FANB) will serve as Military Adviser to the Council of State.
- All of the powers assigned to the President by the Constitution will be vested exclusively in the Council of State. The U.S. and the EU will lift sanctions on those who claimed Presidential authorities which were imposed due to their holding their previous positions once the Council of State is functioning and those individuals renounce any further claims to hold executive positions and acknowledge the Council of State as the exclusive executive power.
- Once the Council of State is established and foreign security forces have departed (unless approved by 3/4 vote at the AN), U.S. sanctions on the Government of Venezuela, PDVSA, and the oil sector are suspended.
- Council of State appoints new cabinet. The U.S. lifts sanctions on former cabinet members due to their holding their previous positions. The U.S. also lifts sanctions on members of the FANB that are based on their position in the institution.
- The international community provides humanitarian, electoral, governance, development, security, and economic support, with special initial focus on medical care system, water and electricity supply. Existing social welfare programs, now to be supplemented with international support, must become equally accessible to all Venezuelan citizens. Negotiations begin with World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank for major programs of support.
- A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is established with the task of investigating serious acts of violence that occurred since 1999, and reports to the nation on the responsibilities of perpetrators and the rehabilitation of victims and their families. The Commission has five members, who are selected by the Secretary General of the United Nations with the consent of the Council of State. The AN adopts amnesty law consistent with Venezuela’s international obligations, covering politically motivated crimes since 1999 except for crimes against humanity. Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru withdraw support for the International Criminal Court referral.
- The Council of State sets a date for simultaneous Presidential and AN elections in 6-12 months. Any Venezuelan citizen eligible in accordance with the 1999 Constitution can compete in the election.
- Presidential and AN elections are held. With a consensus of international observers that elections were free and fair, remaining U.S. sanctions are lifted.
- Bi-partisan commission within the AN is developed to create long term solutions to rehabilitating the economy and refinancing the debt.
- The military high command (Defense Minister, Vice Defense Minister, CEOFANB Commander, and Service Chiefs) remains in place for the duration of the transitional government.
- State or local authorities remain in place for the duration of the transitional period.