US President Donald Trump’s administration is looking for ways to financially bolster Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognised by Washington as the country’s interim president, with an influx of cash, which could involve freeing up frozen assets or loans.
The initiative is meant to help Guaido pay Venezuelan military and government workers, as part of a broader effort to shatter embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s hold on power, administration officials told CNN on Thursday.
“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.
“That would include payments to various people, including those in the military.”
The administration is considering a variety of ways of getting funding and humanitarian aid to the 35-year-old Guaido, the aide added.
The US, however, was unlikely to fly cash directly into Venezuela, given Venezuela’s air defence system.
The Trump administration could also have money flown into a neighbouring country, such as Colombia, and then bring it over the border into Caracas.
The Trump administration has been focused on supporting Guaido financially since they first recognised him as Venezuela’s official leader in January, seeing funding as key to stabilising the country and securing his leadership.
The US-educated president of the opposition National Assembly is now recognised by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president.
Last month, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow explained efforts are in the works to get Guaido the economic backing that would be necessary.
Kudlow added the US would consider using “banks, iPhones, apps and many clever ways to get cash” into Venezuela.