Durbin, Menendez, Cardin, Leahy, Kaine, Meet With Top Venezuelan Diplomat For Interim Guaidó Government

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) today met with Carlos Vecchio, the recently appointed top Venezuelan diplomat to the U.S. under interim President Juan Guaidó’s government.  In today’s meeting, the Senators offered their support for Guaidó and discussed plans for a managed transition and a timely, open, and fair election. 

“What we are seeing unfold in Venezuela is democratic change coming from within.  These events are a welcome development of Latin American nations defending democracy and the Organization of American States Democratic Charter in their own neighborhood,” Durbin said.  “In today’s meeting, I reiterated to Chargé d’Affaires Vecchio that we in the United States stand ready to help the Venezuelan people rebuild their country’s democracy and economy, and to help the millions of Venezuelan refugees safely return home.  I also made clear that Congress will remember those within the outgoing regime who played a constructive role in a peaceful transition when considering future targeted American sanctions.”

“It was a pleasure meeting with Interim President Guaidó’s top diplomat in Washington to discuss how the U.S. can support international efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela and address the country’s humanitarian crisis,” said Menendez.  “I believe in the courage and resilience of the Venezuelan people and stand with them more than ever as they seek a brighter future for their country.  As I told Mr. Vecchio, the eyes of the world will be on Maduro regime officials as they consider supporting Venezuelans’ democratic aspirations, and future U.S. targeted sanctions should take into consideration which side of history they chose to be on.”

“We remain committed to supporting a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Venezuela, the restoration of democratic institutions, and humanitarian assistance to those in need. This requires rigorously applying our multilateral diplomatic and economic tools,” said Cardin. “There is bipartisan support for interim President Juan Guaidó and the people of Venezuela.”  

Photos of today’s meeting are available here.

Carlos Vecchio, a former Fulbright Scholar, helped found the Venezuelan party Voluntad Popular – the centrist political party of Guaidó and opposition leader Leopoldo López.  Vecchio served as party leader after López was jailed by the Maduro regime in a cowardly attempt to keep him from running for president.  Vecchio went into hiding after also facing imminent arrest, eventually seeking exile in the U.S. where he served as a fellow at Yale University.  Vecchio’s credentials as Chargé d'Affaires of the Government of Venezuela to the United States were formally recognized at the State Department on January 27, 2019.

Last year, Durbin traveled to Venezuela where he met with then-President Nicolas Maduro, members of the opposition included Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Health and Nutrition, business leaders, civil society groups, doctors, and humanitarian organizations.  He spoke with Guaidó by phone last week to offer his support for his transitional government.