U.S. Administration Discusses Plan To Oust Venezuela’s Maduro

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By Tsvetana Paraskova

Officials at the Trump Administration are back discussing a plan to oust Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro by potentially persuading people in his ruling party to turn against him and agree to a power-sharing agreement with the Venezuelan opposition, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the talks.

This would be the second U.S. attempt to oust Maduro after a failed attempt last year. However, this time around, the officials in the Trump Administration believe they have better chances of success because the U.S. has stepped up pressure on Venezuela over the past year by gradually increasing sanctions against the regime, targeting its main, and only, hard currency income—oil exports.

The maximum pressure campaign against Maduro continues. Earlier this month, the U.S. warned companies doing business with Venezuela, including Reliance, Rosneft, and even Chevron, to “tread cautiously towards their activities in Venezuela,” because more sanctions on Maduro’s regime would be coming.

Then this week, the United States slapped sanctions on a Geneva-based trading unit of Russian oil giant Rosneft, saying that the company Rosneft Trading has been helping Maduro’s regime to evade sanctions and to continue selling oil to keep the regime alive.

During a recent visit of opposition leader Juan Guaidó to the United States, Guaidó and senior U.S. officials discussed the idea of some kind of power-sharing agreement with deputies or supporters of Maduro, Bloomberg’s sources said.

Guaidó is the legitimate president of Venezuela according to the U.S. and many other Western countries. The United States has been seeking to oust Maduro and have Venezuela hold fair elections.

Some U.S. officials, however, are not on board with including people close to Maduro in a potential power-sharing agreement, according to Bloomberg’s sources. It wasn’t immediately clear if the U.S. officials considering a power-sharing agreement have briefed U.S. President Donald Trump about such plans, Bloomberg reported.

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