Spanish – The interim government of Venezuela, led by Juan Guaidó, will receive from the United States “no less than 33 million USD” in 2021 for those programs and initiatives in favor of democracy in the country.
Although the amount is slightly higher than the one approved for 2020, Washington initially planned to allocate 205 million for an eventual transition that has not yet arrived. The fact that the amount has finally been reconsidered in congress, reducing it to less than a quarter of the amount requested by the administration, shows that the United States does not see the change that Venezuelans are hoping for.
Through the Economic Support Fund (ESF), the US contributed 30 million USD for the defense of democracy in Venezuela this year, plus an additional five million USD for health programs.
Joshua Goodman, a journalist for the Associated Press reported this amount, which is included in the US government’s general spending budget for the fiscal year 2021, recently signed by President Donald Trump.
EEUU incrementa financiamiento a programas de democracia dirigido a Venezuela a $33 millones (del actual $30 millones), según nuevo presupuesto que Trump firmo. Casa Blanca había solicitado $200 millones para 2021 creyendo que una transición estaba cerca. pic.twitter.com/f7oq5DP7KW
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) December 29, 2020
But another fact, according to Goodman, is that the US White House had requested 205 million USD for a possible transition that they believed would occur during the fiscal year 2021.
The number is backed by a document issued by the research department of the US Congress, with the aim of “support the transitional government, improve food security, strengthen the health system, stabilize the energy sector, and foster economic growth.”
Total aid to Venezuela would increase by 170 million USD (486%) compared to the FY 2020 estimate.
Aid for COVID-19
The United States has provided diplomatic and economic support to Venezuela against the oppressive dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, beginning with the imposition of sanctions.
The Economic Support Fund is not the only contribution the country received this year through private and public organizations and the interim government of Guaidó.
The same congressional document specifies that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional nine million USD has been allocated for International Disaster Assistance and another 4.7 million USD for Migrant and Refugee Assistance.
Donald Trump’s umbrella for the South American country has been a determining factor since he arrived at the White House in 2016. “My government will always be against socialism,” he said in a statement this year on Venezuela’s Independence Day.
Financing for Guaidó
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), along with the State Department, oversees this and other funds as part of strategic support to other nations.
But the question arises as to who receives this money and whether it goes directly to the interim government. USAID indicates that it does not. The aid is distributed to private organizations through contracts, donations, or cooperation agreements.
The government of Juan Guaidó only receives travel and other expenses “for some technical advisors of the National Assembly and the Interim Administration of Guaidó through USAID assistance funds.”
“No funds are provided directly to elected National Assembly members, high-level officials of the Guaidó Administration, Ambassadors, or the interim President himself,” the website states.
The opposition has also received other sources of funding through the United States. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) granted it access to 80 million USD seized from the Chavista-controlled Central Bank of Venezuela in US accounts.
Of that amount, some 18 million USD was allocated to the Health Heroes program that delivered 300 USD bonds to medical personnel in Venezuela.
USAID explains that since FY 2017, the United States has provided more than 656 million USD in humanitarian and development assistance to address the crisis. This includes over 467 million USD in humanitarian and development assistance to support Venezuelan migrants and the regions that receive them. Another 189 million USD has gone to the situation within Venezuela.
The interim government’s inaction
Despite the funding, direct or indirect, that the Venezuelan interim government receives, its actions do not appear to be entirely effective.
The dictatorship continues to hold on to power with no prospect of a way out that does not include Chavista figures. The idea of the regime leaving power entirely seems to have been discarded by Guaidó, who extended the interim with adjustments to the Transition Statute, a crucial guideline for the Venezuelan opposition.
Initially, a route of “cessation of usurpation, the transitional government, and free elections” was proposed, but in recent days, the opposition- without unanimity- voted to change the steps.
The change of route was criticized by Vente Venezuela, the party of María Corina Machado, accusing Guaidó of aiming at mixed governments and “cohabiting with the dictatorship.”
That same day, the opponent issued a message, revealing that he is aware that the regime would not leave power if not by force. Nowhere did he mention the premise of “ceasing the usurpation.”