Trump prepares aid package for Venezuela
Washington: US President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing an economic relief package for Venezuela that would put American dollars directly into the South American nation in the event that the government of incumbent leader Nicolas Maduro falls.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, disclosed the outlines of the plan on Wednesday as he called on Maduro to step aside and allow Juan Guaido, the opposition leader whom the US recognises as Venezuela’s interim president, to take office, reports The New York Times.
Plans for a comprehensive aid package for Venezuela come as President Trump is cutting aid to other countries, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Trump has also threatened to cut funding to Puerto Rico, a US territory, over its handling of federal hurricane relief funds.
“We have a lot of plans to revitalize the Venezuelan economy and to move very rapidly,” Kudlow said. “It would be a rescue plan. It would be a restructuring plan.”
Venezuela has been crippled for years by hyper-inflation and a failing economy that has led millions to flee for Colombia and other countries.
The nation has been further disrupted since January, when opposition political leaders refused to acknowledge as legitimate the re-election of Maduro. The US has thrown its support behind Guaido, who declared himself interim president on January 23.
The administration is coordinating with regional banks in South America and the International Monetary Fund on a plan to stabilise Venezuela’s teetering economy, Kudlow said.
The Treasury Department, the National Economic Council and the National Security Council, he said, intend to use technology such as smartphones and apps to get American dollars to Venezuelans.
The White House did not offer a timetable for the economic package or details about its scale.
In recent months, the administration has imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela as part of a pressure campaign to topple the Maduro government, which has been receiving support from Moscow.