The Assistant Secretary of State for the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian A. Nichols, warned Thursday that the government of Nicolás Maduro is seriously mistaken if it considers that the patience of the United States is infinite, and reiterated that the Biden administration continues “firmly committed” to the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
“Nicolás Maduro makes a serious mistake if he thinks that our patience is infinite and that delaying tactics will serve him,” Nichols said Thursday during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, that evaluated US policy toward Venezuela.
“The United States government remains firmly committed to the belief that Venezuelans have a right to democracy and deserve a government of their choosing that protects and defends their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Nichols said.
He further ratified the US decision to “empower Venezuelans as they work to resolve the many crises created by the regime facing their nation, and to once again elect their government through free and fair elections.”
At the same time, he said that “the United States continues to recognize and support the interim presidency of Juan Guaidó and the National Assembly democratically elected in 2015.”
He even said that they continue to “closely coordinate with President Guaidó and his government, the Unitarian Platform, and those inside and outside Venezuela who support the return of democracy to their homeland.”
Nichols stated that the situation in Venezuela continues to be one of the worst crises in the history of our hemisphere. To exemplify it, he cited how “a country with a proud democratic tradition, blessed with natural resources and a rich
biodiversity, and with a vibrant and resourceful population, it has suffered decades of misery.
He also referred to the almost total collapse of vital sectors such as health, energy, agriculture, manufacturing and education.
“It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but it is not even among the top 20 oil producing countries in the world,” he stressed.
During his presentation, Nichols alluded to the fact that “whole tracts of its rich biodiversity have been destroyed by illegal mining and logging. Its lawless border regions provide refuge for a myriad of illegal actors, including narco-terrorists, who threaten its population and neighbors. “.
poverty and exodus
Nichols referred before the Senate Commission to the fact that while 90% of its population lives in poverty, many have left the country in what he described as “the largest displacement of people in the history of our hemisphere.”
“As I underscored during my testimony earlier this year before the Foreign Affairs Committee, responsibility for the crisis in Venezuela rests squarely on the shoulders of the late Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro,” Nichols said.
The US diplomat stated that “the US sanctions policy will continue to exert pressure on the Maduro regime, while continuing
providing ample space for humanitarian aid, including our own commitment of more than $2 billion since 2017.”
Nichols reiterated Thursday that the United States will review “sanctions policies in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime.”
“The United States government, in coordination with its allies, will also go after criminals and fugitives, and intercept criminal activity associated with the regime,” he stressed.
“We will continue to relentlessly pursue the accountability of all actors who commit acts of corruption or abuse human rights in Venezuela. We also seek the personal integrity and freedom of Venezuelan political prisoners,” he said.
Nichols considered as negative the fact that “the Maduro regime looks to Russia, the People’s Republic of China and Iran for political and economic alliances that bring few benefits to the Venezuelan people and threaten regional stability.”
In concluding, the US official said that the Joe Biden government will continue to work with the US Congress and with international partners to help Venezuela return to the community of democracies and improve the lives of all Venezuelans.
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