Blinken speaks with Guaidó and pledges more U.S. support

The US secretary of state stressed the importance of the return of democracy to Venezuela
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday promised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom Washington considers Venezuela's interim president, the support of Joe Biden's government to "press" for a "peaceful transition". 

"Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a return to democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. 

During the conversation, the head of US diplomacy referred to his country's efforts  to work with likeminded allies, including the European Union, Lima Group, Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Contact Group on Venezuela "to increase multilateral pressure and press for a peaceful, democratic transition", the statement added. 

Both leaders "discussed the urgent humanitarian needs in Venezuela that have forced nearly 5.5 million Venezuelans to flee Venezuela, and Secretary Blinken applauded efforts to find solutions to ease their suffering and committed to continued U.S. support." 

On 23 January 2019, Guaidó announced that he would assume the powers of the Executive in Venezuela in the face of what he considered to be the usurpation of the Presidency of that country by President Nicolás Maduro, who remains in power. 

Guaidó was recognised as interim president of Venezuela by then US President Donald Trump, whose mandate ended on January 20. 

El líder de la oposición venezolana, Juan Guaidó, habla durante una rueda de prensa en Caracas, Venezuela, el 5 de diciembre de 2020
REUTERS/MANAURE QUINTERO - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela December 5, 2020.

From the White House, Trump led a heavy-handed strategy towards the Caracas administration, which resulted in sanctions against companies or officials, close associates and relatives of members of Maduro's government, which broke off diplomatic relations with Washington. 

On February 3, the United States announced that it does not expect to establish direct contact with Maduro in the "short term", and indicated that it continues to recognise Guaidó as its interlocutor. 

"We certainly don't expect any contact with Maduro in the short term," Price said at a press conference at the time, calling the Venezuelan leader a "dictator".