WASHINGTON DC – The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Venezuelan Emergency and Democracy Development Assistance (Verdad) Act that would give $400 million in “humanitarian aid to Venezuela,” Sen. Bob Menendez said in a statement.
“Update: VERDAD Act passes out of committee”, Menendez said via Twitter. “This is the most comprehensive effort to confront the crisis in Venezuela. We’ve set up the structure for the Trump [administration] to boost [Venezuela’s] democracy movement — doubling humanitarian aid [and] expanding sanctions against [President Nicolas] Maduro’s officials”.
Menendez explained that the measure would also reaffirm US support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and the opposition-led National Assembly, and establish US policy to pursue “a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the Venezuelan crisis”.
Guaidó’s envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, said the bill would help the self-proclaimed interim president promote the government’s transition to Venezuela.
The outrageous measure repeals visas of relatives of Venezuelans sanctioned by human rights abuses and suspends sanctions on those who swear allegiance to Guaidó. In addition, the measure requires the Trump government to cooperate with the governments of Latin America and Europe to impose unilateral sanctions.
Senators also called on the US government to re-use the corrupt financial properties of the Venezuelan authorities and pursue the reconstruction of Venezuela’s economy in cooperation with international financial institutions. The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate floor for a vote.
The situation in Venezuela has remained tense since January when opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president. Washington and its allies endorsed Guaido and called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down. Moreover, the United States seized billions of dollars’ worth of Venezuelan oil assets.
Maduro, in turn, has accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to install Guaido as its puppet and take over Venezuela’s natural resources. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have voiced their support for constitutionally-elected Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.