National Security

Elliott Abrams: ‘A Number of Countries’ Have Offered to Accept Maduro

Elliott Abrams, who leads the Trump administration's special envoy to Venezuela, said on Thursday that several countries have offered to take in Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.

"I think it is better for the transition to democracy in Venezuela that he be outside the country," Abrams said. "And there are a number of countries who are willing to accept him."

"Which ones?" Bloomberg reporter Nick Wadhams asked.

"He's got friends in places like Cuba and Russia," Abrams said. "And there are some other countries actually, that have come to us privately and said they would be willing to take members of the current illegitimate regime, if it would help the transition."

"Can you name any?" Wadhams asked.

"No," Abrams responded.

Venezuela is in the midst of an economic and political crisis as Maduro, who was reelected to a second in May 2018, attempts to maintain power. A number of countries, including the United States, have accused Maduro of stealing the election. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan legislature, declared himself interim president and called for fair elections in response to the turmoil caused by Maduro's socialist government. The United States has urged the countries of the world to recognize Guaidó as the country's president.

CNN reported Thursday that the Maduro government blocked a bridge on the Colombia-Venezuela border, preventing U.S.-sent humanitarian aid from reaching the country.

At the end of January, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against the Maduro government and his allies. The sanctions freeze $7 billion in U.S.-based assets and target $11 billion of U.S. revenue to Venezuela’s national oil company.

Last week, U.S national security adviser John Bolton suggested that Maduro and his allies should flee the country and "retire" on a beach somewhere.

"I wish Nicolas Maduro and his top advisors a long, quiet retirement, living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela," Bolton tweeted. "They should take advantage of President Guaido’s amnesty and move on. The sooner the better."