Slight winds of change are felt, the deputies of the NA are finally touring the country. Is it an isolated event or a reaction to external and internal pressures? Does it respond to a G4 / NA survival strategy? In parallel, the Biden Administration grants Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the approximately 320,000 Venezuelan undocumented immigrants in the United States. Biden also continues to take advantage of the “extreme” actions taken by the Trump Administration, announcing that he will be working with allies to review the sanctions strategy against Venezuela and is achieving a renegotiation of the contribution to the United States military presence in South Korea. Meanwhile, Norwegians visit Caracas to try to heat up a possible negotiation, hyperinflation continues to rage, diesel is scarce, the pandemic is raging, and public services continue to decline. The report includes an analysis of the article “What should Biden do with Venezuela?” and “Finally TPS for Venezuelans.”

On 3/4/21 Ricardo Hausman and José Ramón Morales-Arilla published the article “What should Biden do with Venezuela?” in the Project Syndicate portal. They begin from the fact that “The strategy of maximum pressure on the dictatorship of former US President Donald Trump, reflected in countless sanctions imposed on the country, neither restored democracy nor resolved the country’s catastrophic economic and humanitarian crisis. The administration of President Joe Biden has announced a foreign policy centered around defending democracy. ” Very interesting since not only is a count and analysis of the past made, but concrete proposals are made for concrete actions, including the possible election of a President electronically. A summary below:

  • Proposed strategies:
    • Non-recognition and sanctions are fundamental elements of a strategy to restore democracy in Venezuela. Sanctions need to be strengthened by making them more multilateral and more burdensome for the elite, and ensuring that they do not affect ordinary Venezuelans who, in certain cases, have been harmed.
    • To strengthen society, the international community must help the Guaidó government transfer aid, as it did to health workers in September 2020, bypassing Maduro’s blockade.
    • There is also the technology for the Guaidó government to deliver electronic identity documents to citizens, depriving the regime of a mechanism to strip citizens of their rights.
    • These technologies could also help solve the legitimacy problem. The same technology could be used to elect the person who would be internationally recognized as the interim president of Venezuela, and who would remain in office until democracy is restored.
  • The following are determining facts to understand the position of international democracies:
    • The Venezuelan regime turned its back on electoral democracy when it lost the ability to win elections.
    • With the electoral route closed, Venezuelans took to the streets, which led to violent persecution.
    • Having lost so emphatically at the polls, the regime decided that it would never again allow competitive elections. The May 2018 presidential election and the December 2020 parliamentary election were so scandalously unfair that the opposition boycotted them and most of the world’s democracies refused to acknowledge the results.
  • Sanctions and negotiations:
    • A chorus of analysts has been saying that the catastrophic performance of the Venezuelan economy is due to international sanctions (not true): instead of pressure, they argue, what the country really needs are negotiations.
    • It is important to remember that:
      • The largest global collapse in the history of food and medicine imports in any country in the world happened in Venezuela in 2016, before the economic sanctions.
      • The sanctions forced the regime to abandon its efforts to monopolize international trade.
    • This naive view does not understand what is happening. The fundamental problem in Venezuela is that the ruling coalition has little to gain from negotiation.
    • The experience of previous negotiations shows that international non-recognition (which prevents Maduro from controlling Venezuela’s assets abroad) and sanctions are the only sources of pressure on the government. The only way to a negotiation is to make the status quo so unpleasant for the regime that its unity falls apart.

Finally TPS for Venezuelans

The TPS figure was launched in the United States in 1990. It applies to Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua and South Sudan. By 2017, 320,000 people had TPS where the majority was made up of those from El Salvador (195,000), Honduras (57,000) and Haiti (46,000). It is estimated that it could include around 320,000 Venezuelans.

This is reminiscent of the “Asylum Door” created for Cubans in 1965 and which covered 270,000 people. These decisions always have an internal political tinge in the United States. Curiously, that program was created by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and the Cubans ended up being massively Republicans. In this case, the TPS-Venezuela also has its political focus and has to do with the future expectation of the Venezuelan votes in the very important state of Florida. The Trump Administration achieved a significant percentage of those Venezuelans with the sanctions and accusing Biden of being a socialist, but it never intended to grant TPS to Venezuelans. This probably responded to their general anti-immigration strategy. The Biden Administration surely tries to capture the Venezuelan vote in the future. We will see if  what ocurred with Cubans is repeated now and they continue to be Republicans.