Voice of America
The U.S. Senate has drafted a plan aimed at helping bring back democracy to Venezuela through economic aid and pushing U.S. allies to impose sanctions on the Maduro regime.
Eight Republicans and seven Democrats are co-sponsors of the Verdad Act — Venezuela Emergency Relief Democracy and Development.
Democrat Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the proposal is a bipartisan effort "to put teeth behind our support for the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore democracy and prosperity ... and end the nightmare that has been the Maduro reign of terror."
The act calls for a "peaceful diplomatic solution" in Venezuela while authorizing the Trump administration to spend another $400 million in humanitarian aid.
It also requires the State Department to work with Latin and European allies to impose their own sanctions on the Maduro regime. The U.S. would lift sanctions against Venezuelan officials not accused of human rights abuses if they recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
The U.S. would then work with global financial institutions to rebuild the Venezuelan economy after the Maduro regime falls.
Other co-sponsors of the act call Maduro's government "Illegitimate" and a "gang of narco-terrorist thugs holding the Venezuelan people hostage."
The Trump administration announced its own plans for revitalizing the disastrous Venezuelan economy once Maduro is gone, including cash contributions to citizens and food.
Earlier Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused Guaido of violating the country's constitution and called on the judiciary to take action.
It was Guaido who said, as leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, he has the constitutional authority to declare Maduro's presidency illegitimate, claiming he won a second term in December through a rigged election.
Lawmakers loyal to Maduro have stripped Guaido of the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a member of parliament, putting him at the risk of arrest.
The chief justice of the Venezuelan Supreme Court has said Guaido should be jailed for violating a court-imposed ban on leaving the country. Guaido visited several South American countries last month to seek support for his efforts to force Maduro to step down.