As I type Biden is about to be sworn in and of course I am planning to watch it if French TV broadcasts it. One of the reasons that motivates me is that in the first hearings for his cabinet positions his nominees without a fault are quite willing to continue some of Trump's policies. Sure, the means and ways will differ here and there but on important questions such as the enmity of China or the Middle East moves, nothing much will change. And best of all Secretary of state nominee Blinken has said in his hearing that the incoming administration will recognize the interim government of Guaido and the remains of the National Assembly elected in 2015, considered the last democratically elected branch of government.
Nobody should be surprised: there is such a thing in serious countries as the interests of the State and those interests are bipartisan. The policy against an invasive and unfair China concerns both Democrats and Republicans. A good application example is the departing recognition by Pompeo of Uyghur veiled genocide in China is prime exemple. China will be upset and will try to retaliate but the incoming Biden people will put the blame on Pompeo while not changing the decision. And Pompeo will be fine with that because it serves the supreme interests of the country. No matter what a crazy supporter of Trump he may have been, enough voices within the GOP have been telling him to do so. Same thing for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The democrats did not like it but Biden will leave the embassy in Jerusalem. No need to pick a fight over that, a done deed putting to rest a thorny issue as keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv did not help in solving the conflict.
Same thing with Venezuela. European Union failed to clearly endorse the continuing Guaido expired mandate while recognizing him as opposition leader. But Europe has no "state" interests in Venezuela the way the US has. Best to start by recognizing the status quo, recognize Guaido and keep at the very least current sanctions. Then, once in office, once all dossiers are examined by the new administration then it will be time to rebuild an anti Maduro coalition and modify what needs to be modified.
These overriding "state interests" is something absolutely lost for chavismo. Long ago they have ditched professional career diplomats. Venezuelan foreign policy has become a mere promotion of the bolivarian fraud and Chavez ego. And in recent years Venezuela's foreign policy, so to speak, is on survival mode, selling state interests to whomever protects best its nomenklatura from international pursuits. The paradox is that the dictatorships that support Maduro, be they Russia or China, do have an acute sense of their own state interests. For them Venezuela is a useful foil against the US objectives.
For the US Venezuela is much more than a nuisance. Drug trafficking goes a lot through Venezuela. The regime protects and sponsors terrorist organizations like the Colombian FARC and ELN. Its influence on all sorts of anti system groups across Latin America is notorious. The tremendous corruption inside of Venezuela spilling over the continent through massive money laundering schemes. Worst or all is how blithely Venezuela's regime sends millions of migrants across Latin America straining countries with narrow possibilities to deal with such a refugee wave. In short, Venezuela is a destabilizing factor over the whole continental expanse and that is not in the interests of the US of A.
The regime does not understand that. Jorge Rodriguez, a main operator for Maduro and the new head of the overwhelming chavista novel assembly, gave his first interview as chair. In it he offers to the US in exchange for dropping sanctions to free a handful of US citizen prisoners and reopening business for US oil companies. Blackmail/cash-promises for forgetting all of the nefarious actions from Venezuela. The regime presents itself as the victim, with no need for corrective actions. And worse, they think they are about to fool the Biden administration. They do, trust me.
But times have changed. The US went through the Trump years and too many taboos have been broken. The Biden team is more likely to act through broad coalitions, perhaps with weaker measures but enforced ones. But it will act without the kowtowing of the Obama years. A good starting point is to force other LatAm countries to take real actions against the regime. One of the reason Trump sanctions did not have the desired effect is that too many LatAm countries have been unwilling to take action. Even Bolsonaro has not gone much further than break relations and big words. We need these countries to actively pursue those inside that made deals with the operators of the Venezuelan regime. A little bit of blackmail from the US could help along.
And there is of course the most important and needed confrontation: what to do against Cuba which is the organizer of the regime. Without forgetting the enablers in Russia and China. Trump's people never faced Russia over Venezuela. Will Biden do so? Obama got conned by Cuba. Will Biden stumble over that same stone again?