Venezuela’s Juan Guaido is planning to make his largest withdrawal from Venezuelan accounts that have been frozen by US sanctions. Guaido has the power to access these funds because the US recognizes him as Venezuela’s president, despite the reality that Nicolas Maduro holds the office in Caracas.
Guaido is tapping $152 million from the accounts. $100 million is said to be going towards purchasing vaccines through the World Health Organization. It’s not clear what the remaining funds will be used for. According to Bloomberg, at least $23 million will go towards what is called “defending democracy,” and $2.3 million will be spent on “advising, security and travel costs” of Guaido’s “inner circle.”
The US has recognized Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela since January 2019. The recognition has come along with crushing economic sanctions that have devastated Venezuela’s civilian population.
Guaido was never a viable candidate to replace Maduro, and after a failed coup attempt and repeated calls for US intervention, he lost what little support he had in the country. Even US allies that have gone along with the regime change effort are pulling support from Guaido. After he lost his seat in the National Assembly, the EU said it no longer recognizes Guaido as president.
The Biden administration appears to have no interest in changing the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy and giving the country sanctions relief. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Guaido in March and reaffirmed that the US recognizes him as president.