Jan 19, 2020

Maduro says he is firmly in control and won't be stopped by U.S. sanctions

Venezuelan President Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Jan. 14. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that he is comfortably in control of his country and open to direct negotiations with the U.S. to resolve their "confrontational relationship."

Why it matters: The Trump administration's bet that Maduro would fall in 2019 in the midst of an economic collapse, a massive refugee crisis and an international push for regime change appears to have failed.

What they're saying: “If there’s respect between governments, no matter how big the United States is, and if there’s a dialogue, an exchange of truthful information, then be sure we can create a new type of relationship,” Maduro told the Post.

  • Maduro suggested that U.S. companies could reap the benefit of Venezuelan oil if President Trump reset relations, but dismissed international opposition to his regime and made clear that he intends to remain in power.
  • “Do you want me to tell you the truth? I don’t care even a little bit about what Europe does, or about what the U.S. does," he said. "No matter how many thousand sanctions, they won’t stop us, or Venezuela.”
  • He also attacked hawks in the Trump administration for implementing hardline policies like the economic sanctions that have crippled the country, a line that other foreign adversaries like the Iranians have also echoed.
“I believe Mike Pompeo has failed in Venezuela and is responsible for Donald Trump’s failure in his policy toward our country. I think Pompeo lives in a fantasy. He’s not a man with his feet on earth. I think Trump has had terrible advisers on Venezuela. John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams have caused him to have a wrong vision.”
— Maduro

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton tweeted Sunday: "Maduro tells the Washington Post he wants negotiations with the United States? The only negotiations we should have with Maduro are what he wants for lunch on the plane that will take him to permanent exile in Cuba or Russia. Viva Venezuela libre."

The big picture: The U.S. and 60 other nations recognize opposition leader and the head Venezuela’s legislature Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate president. Security forces this month attempted to block Guaidó from entering the country's National Assembly so the body could swear in a candidate loyal to Maduro as its leader.

  • Direct talks with the U.S. are unlikely. The Trump administration has repeatedly called for Maduro's exit from the presidential palace, and the talks would most likely bolster his legitimacy, strengthening his position.

Go deeper: Venezuela's Maduro survives 2019

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