As we enter a new phase of leadership under the Biden administration, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has been actively engaging with actors in Venezuela and in Washington to advocate for a peaceful, democratic solution in the country. After publishing a policy memo with recommendations for the Biden administration to shift course on Venezuela, WOLA’s Venezuela program is encouraging the new administration to adopt a U.S. policy towards Venezuela that prioritizes human rights, social justice, and the urgent need for a political solution.
Below is an overview of recent advocacy and analysis by WOLA’s Venezuela team:
- On Sunday, January 24, El País published an op-ed by WOLA Director for Venezuela Geoff Ramsey and Senior Fellow David Smilde, entitled “Biden’s Challenges on Venezuela” (Los Retos de Biden para Venezuela). In this article, Ramsey and Smilde provide a series of recommendations detailing how the Biden administration, alongside the European Union, can reorient its policy towards Venezuela through a combined strategy of pressure and engagement. The authors argue that the Biden administration should work to identify areas of mutual interest with geopolitical adversaries such as Russia, China, and Cuba rather than letting the crisis fall into a slow-burning proxy conflict.
- On January 19, WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he assesses the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy and its decision to extend recognition of Juan Guaidó under the notion of “administrative continuity.” Smilde details the gaps in the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy, and provides concrete recommendations for the Biden administration to engage with foreign actors in a multilateral approach to Venezuela’s crisis. On January 24, the Washington Post published this same op-ed in Spanish.
- On January 14, WOLA’s Venezuela team released the third episode of its new podcast, The Venezuela Briefing, entitled “Debrief on Venezuela’s Legislative Elections.” In the episode, co-hosts Geoff Ramsey and WOLA Program Associate Kristen Martinez-Gugerli interview Jose de Bastos and Mariano de Alba of La Venezuela Global podcast about the results of Venezuela’s December 6 legislative elections, and the path forward in Venezuela with the new National Assembly sworn in on January 5.
- On January 14, WOLA joined a group of international human rights organizations in issuing a joint statement following a series of attacks on civil society and independent media organizations in Venezuela by pro-government media and security forces. The signing organizations call on the Venezuelan authorities to abstain from encouraging further attacks, and to commit to defending the rights to freedom of expression and information.
- On January 12, WOLA Director for Venezuela Geoff Ramsey published a piece in the Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft in which he highlights the mistakes made by the Trump administration and offers a series of concrete recommendations for the Biden administration to address Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis. Ramsey encourages the new administration to commit to its stated support for multilateralism and engage with allies in the European Union, arguing that Venezuela is the perfect test case for a renewed U.S. embrace of international institutions.