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- The Trump administration is looking for ways to support Venezuela’s opposition financially, according to a CNN report.
- Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is trying to oust President Nicolás Maduro, but his latest attempt at a military uprising is faltering.
- Money to pay salaries to military and government employees could help Guaidó gain support.
- Officials are considering easing sanctions on Venezuelan state companies in a strategic way that would benefit Guaidó.
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The Trump administration is seeking ways to financially support Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó as he tries to overthrow the socialist government, according to a CNN report.
The US, one of more than 50 countries to recognize Guaidó as the interim president, is the opposition’s strongest international backer.
A cash influx could help Guaidó pay salaries to military and government employees, chipping away at President Nicolás Maduro’s power, three US officials told CNN.
"They are trying to figure out how do you help the interim government be able to provide paychecks, that kind of stuff, so that there is an ability to say, ‘Hey, we are a functioning government,’" a senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill told CNN.
The administration is currently considering the best ways to deliver the money to the opposition, the report added.
Venezuela’s air defense system would prevent the US from flying in cash directly, sources told CNN. But the money could be flown to a neighbor like Colombia, before being moved into Venezuela.
The US could also funnel funds to Guaidó by strategically easing sanctions on companies owned by the Venezuelan state, Michael Dobson, a former official with the Treasury Department, told CNN.
Guaidó already has access to Venezuelan government assets in the US, like property and bank accounts, which are frozen to Maduro.
The plan to tip the Venezuelan standoff in the opposition’s favor comes at a crucial moment.
This week Guaidó failed to get significant support from the armed forces when he tried to spark a military uprising against the government. Maduro enjoys unwavering loyalty from a majority of high-ranking officials, largely because he rewards them with influential government and business positions.
John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, called three of Maduro’s key aides out by name, and said they had promised to support the opposition. But the officials backed Maduro throughout the unrest.
One of them, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, said the US was trying to buy him with a "deceitful, stupid, ridiculous offer" to break ranks.
As Venezuela remains in political stalemate, US politicians are increasingly discussing a possible military intervention.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, told CBS that it it would be "morally correct" to send American troops to the South American country if all other options fail.
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