Today the Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft published my latest piece on the most promising ways in which the incoming Biden administration can address Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis. As I write, the Trump administration’s unilateral approach—and its desire to seek U.S. primacy in confronting Maduro—have done serious damage to the international coalition that emerged in 2017-18 to call for a peaceful, democratic solution. Moving forward, Biden should lean into his stated support for multilateralism.
In Latin America, this means returning to an approach that respects Latin American autonomy and highlights the importance of regional countries in responding effectively to the Venezuela crisis. In addition to supporting the Lima Group, Biden should take advantage of certain leaders’ closer proximity to Maduro. Rather than demonizing Mexico, Argentina, or other countries for maintaining ties with the government in Caracas, the Biden administration should appreciate that other countries may be better positioned than the U.S. to engage with Maduro and his inner circle in ways that open opportunities for diplomacy.
A more multilateral approach would also reconciling the gap between Washington and Brussels. Two years after Juan Guaido claimed a mandate as Venezuela’s interim president, the Europe Union seems to have cooled on him and is instead engaging with a wider set of opposition and civil society actors, perhaps recognizing that Guaido’s domestic support has plummeted from over 60 percent approval to around 25 percent. The Biden administration should adopt a similarly broad policy, while ensuring that targeted, multilateral pressure must be paired with strategic engagement. Instead of letting Venezuela fall into a slow-burning proxy conflict, Biden can and should work with European partners to improve communication with geopolitical rivals like China and Russia.