Juan Guaidó’s appearance at President Trump’s third State of the Union address followed a week of speculation over whether the Venezuelan opposition leader would conclude his international trip with a White House meeting. However, on its own, Trump’s show of support for Guaidó won’t change Venezuela’s political stalemate: only a change in policies and a realignment of international forces can do so, writes WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde in an op-ed for the New York Times.
Smilde notes that Trump administration policy on Venezuela has been unproductive, serving to undermine talks between the Guaidó-led opposition and Nicolás Maduro’s bloc that the Norwegian government helped support last year. While it’s noteworthy that Trump avoided rhetoric about a possible “military option” in Venezuela during his speech, it seems unlikely that his administration will change its unilateral “maximum pressure” approach between now and November, he adds.
Smilde goes on to argue that Democrats could push for alternative U.S. policies on Venezuela. This could include rolling back economic sanctions that have deepened suffering in the country, and engaging important players like the European Union, Russia, China, and Cuba.