On March 31, 2020, the US Government issued a proposed framework for a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela. The framework outlines 13 steps for a restructured Government of Venezuela (“GOV”) that, if followed, would lead to the lifting of US sanctions on the GOV, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PdVSA”), and other GOV officials and agencies.
The framework provides a total of 13 actions, including, among others:
- a full return of, and restoration of all powers to, the National Assembly;
- release of political prisoners;
- immediate departure of all foreign security forces unless authorized by a 3/4 vote of the National Assembly;
- the election of a new National Electoral Counsel (“CNE”) and Supreme Court (“TSJ”) (upon which, the US would lift sanctions imposed on former CNE and TSJ members);
- the approval by the National Assembly of a “Council of State” Law, which would create a Council of State that would act as the GOV’s executive branch;
- a vesting of the powers of the President to the Council of State (upon which, both the US and EU would lift sanctions on those who claimed Presidential authorities); and
- once the Council of State is established and the foreign security forces have departed, the US would suspend sanctions on the GOV, PdVSA, and the Venezuelan oil sector.
A related statement by the US State Department explains that the framework calls for the establishment of a broadly acceptable transitional government to administer free and fair presidential elections and a transition from the Maduro regime to a GOV headed by Juan Guaido. The statement provides that the need for transition is more important than ever given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the GOV’s failure to adequately respond, and reiterates that unless and until the Maduro regime accepts a genuine political transition, US sanctions will remain in effect, and increase. This statement is consistent with the US Government’s recent hardline approach to sanctioning non-US entities that continue to do business with the GOV and, in particular, the Venezuelan oil sector. You can read about the most recent designation of such entities in our recent blog post.