Biden Seeks Negotiated Solution in Venezuela to End Crisis

By Ben Bartenstein and Alex Vasquez
Dec. 18, 2020

(Bloomberg) — President-elect Joe Biden’s advisers are preparing for potential negotiations with Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela in an effort to end the Western Hemisphere’s worst economic and humanitarian crisis, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The Biden administration intends to push for free and fair elections, offering sanctions relief in return, said the people, who requested anonymity because the new team is forming. In a departure from the Trump administration, which insisted it would only negotiate the terms of Maduro’s surrender, Biden’s advisers aren’t setting that as a precondition.

The president-elect’s team will review existing sanctions to determine where to expand restrictions with the help of international allies and what measures might get lifted if Maduro moves toward the democratic objective, the people said. Maduro’s foreign backers, including Russia, China and Iran, are expected to play a role, as will Cuba, which is keen to improve relations with the U.S.

The Biden team had no comment. But a transition official said the Biden administration will stand with the Venezuelan people and their call for a restoration of democracy. The U.S. will seek to rebuild multilateral pressure on Maduro, call for the release of political prisoners and implement sanctions against officials guilty of corruption and human rights abuses, the official said.