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US offers Maduro to leave with dignity

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A senior US diplomat said the US is not going to press charges or take any action against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro if he voluntarily resigns despite the fact that his country is on the verge of an economic collapse and currently experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe.

According to Elliot Abrams, special envoy of the White House in Venezuela, there is no sign that Maduro is ready to leave his post. The amnesty proposal was made after the Venezuelan leader and his American counterpart Donald Trump discussed high-level negotiations between the governments of the two countries. But Abrams claims that such negotiations have not yet been held.

“This is not persecution,” Abrams confirmed in an interview on Tuesday August 27th. “We do not pursue him, we want him to resign as president and do it with dignity.” He added, referring to Maduro: “We do not want to charge you or prosecute you. We want you to resign.”

The US Department of the Treasury has already noted that Maduro is one of those who might benefit from the alleged illicit drug supply from Venezuela, but recommended not blaming him.

Abrams’s pragmatic and more polite appeal is the exact opposite of eight months of sanctions, international isolation and threats from the Trump government to carry out military intervention [in Venezuela] against Maduro and his inner circle, who are accused of trying to stay in power and falsify the vote [in the presidential election ] last year.

Opposition leaders in Venezuela did not offer immunity and accuse him of enrichment at the expense of a corrupt government, as a result of which many Venezuelans were left without food and electricity, as well as access to medicines. In an interview, Abrams tried to clarify the situation regarding the efforts of the Trump government to force Maduro to step down. Last week, after reports that Washington and Caracas had secret negotiations, Trump said the White House had contacted “senior officials” of the Maduro government.

A few hours later, Maduro assured that he authorized his representatives to hold secret meetings with the American government. “I confirm that we have been in contact with senior officials for several months now,” Maduro said, adding that his government “is always ready for dialogue.”

However, according to Abrams, not in this case. “It is a mistake to believe that we are negotiating and there is a certain communication system,” the diplomat noted. – Various messages are constantly being received, and I think that, as everyone has already guessed, messages from Washington usually sound like this: “You need to return to democracy. Maduro must resign. He should not stand for election. We will not lift the sanctions until he leaves his post. ”

Such comments are most likely aimed at appeasing the leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, who explained that Trump’s statements could divert their own negotiation process. Last week, a delegation led by opposition chief deputy Stalin González traveled to Washington to put pressure on the US government in matters relating to Venezuelan politics.

According to Abrams, at the moment there is no point in communicating directly with the Maduro government. He said that since the end of January, communications from intermediaries from Venezuela to Washington began to come “less and less” and the information contained in them raised doubts: Maduro probably knew about some, but not about others. Everyone was of the same opinion: Maduro will continue to confront the international pressure campaign led by the Trump administration.

Messages that the United States sends to the Venezuelan government are usually published on the official communiqué, on Twitter, and in some cases through European diplomats or religious leaders. In addition to requiring Maduro to leave his official residence, the Palacio de Miraflores, mediators expressed concern about the health status of at least five Americans who were detained in Venezuela, and the conditions in which they were detained. Any direct contact between Washington and Maduro could jeopardize the parallel negotiations waged by representatives of the government and the opposition in Norway and Barbados, led by Juan Guaidó. It is his US that is considered the legitimate president.

Thanks to these negotiations, Maduro was given the opportunity to peacefully resolve the political crisis, which helped to avoid European sanctions. After several months of demonstrations, in which fewer people began to take part, and unsuccessful attempts to destroy the old state apparatus of Venezuela, the opposition has a chance to remove Maduro.

In July, Maduro suggested that the opposition hold new elections in exchange for the lifting of the sanctions by the Americans, which gave impetus to the negotiations. However, he then interrupted them in protest against the new sanctions imposed on August 5. All property of the Venezuelan government in the United States was arrested. The introduction of a new package of sanctions surprised both the opposition and Maduro. In addition, it includes the application of economic measures to any foreign company doing business with the Venezuelan government.

Officials on both sides said negotiations are likely to resume next week in Barbados, although there is no exact date yet. They reported this information on condition of anonymity.

“The more the US intervenes in Venezuela’s affairs, the more problems appear in the negotiation process,” said former cabinet minister Maduro Temir Porras, who now works as a political consultant in Caracas. – US policy has a huge impact on the future of Venezuela, but it cannot resolve the crisis. Only Venezuelans can do this. ”

During an interview, Abrams said the White House would not support holding new elections in Venezuela if two politicians fighting for power were nominated: Maduro or Guaido. The American diplomat noted that if they want to participate in the elections, they must first leave their posts so that then there will be no disputes regarding the falsification of the voting results.

According to Abrams, if no decision is made, then by October 1, Guaido will stop negotiations so that they do not drag out. “Obviously, he is not yet sure that this situation is hopeless,” Abrams said. “Perhaps he will come to this conclusion tomorrow.”

In January, the Venezuelan National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, passed an amnesty law in the hope that the military, loyal to Maduro, would take its side. Opposition leaders have assured that they will not allow either Maduro or his closest supporters to avoid possible criminal charges, and will not help all those who are faithful to the Maduro regime and who are accused of violating human rights.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is investigating allegations against security forces in 2014 during Maduro’s first term. The United States is not a member state of the ICC. Any amnesty proposal by the United States will be limited. Earlier, a White House spokesman told The New York Times in an interview that the Trump government would not remove any drug charges that were brought against many of Maduro’s closest political allies and his family.

Abrams did not comment on the question of whether the United States would allow Maduro to have property on American territory if he resigned or was expelled from Venezuela.

According to Diego Moya-Ocampos, a political risk analyst at IHS Markit in London, for the Maduro amnesty proposal to be implemented, it must be extended to all senior officials and the military.

Moya-Ocampos noted that even this would be an important step in order to get off the ground in this South American country. “This will change the course of the game,” he said.

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