The Venezuelan government has rejected a United States offer to ease the crippling economic sanctions if the country accepts a U.S. proposal for a transitional government. 

The plan, called “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela” was put forth and promoted by Pompeo. It consisted of a power-sharing government that would be made up of the opposition and some members of Maduro’s Socialist Party. It would require both President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó to step aside in favor of a five-person transitional governing council.

Elected members of the national assembly, representing each side, would comprise the council. Presidential and parliamentary elections would be held 6-12 months after the council’s creation. The president of the transitional government would not be able to run in those elections.

“This framework can provide a path that ends the suffering and opens the path to a brighter future for Venezuela,” Pompeo said in a press conference. 

The plan is essentially the same proposal made by Guaidó, who is recognized by more than 60 countries as the rightful leader of Venezuela. 

The once most prosperous South American country is racked by shortages of food, medicine and horrible inflation that has crippled its economy. 

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza posted on Twitter that, “the Bolivarian [(Venezuelan)] government reiterates that Venezuela does not accept, nor will it ever accept any tutelage, from any foreign government.”

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“It is precisely the Trump administration that needs to step aside and lift the sanctions that even U.S. legislators recognize as hampering Venezuela from acquiring supplies to fight the COVID-19 [pandemic],” the Venezuela government said in a statement.

The U.S. is receiving international pressure to lift the crippling economic sanctions, especially now with the coronavirus threatening a country without the medical infrastructure to handle a wide outbreak. 

Last week, the United States Justice Department leveled narco-terrorism and other criminal charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and senior leaders from his government. 

With the country on the brink of total collapse, Venezuela got more bad news when the International Monetary Fund rejected a request by Maduro for a $5 billion loan. The rejection was because there is a lack of agreement among the IMF’s 189 members on who is the legitimate leader of Venezuela — Maduro or Guaidó.

The U.S. has kept up steady economic and diplomatic pressure to try and break the military’s support for Maduro. The drug trafficking and money laundering charges against Maduro and key government officials, including the head of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, has put further pressure on the regime. But for now, the military has remained steadfast in its support for him. 

Venezuela is running out of gasoline and reportedly has had bouts of looting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now the suffering citizens would like both the opposition leader Guaidó and Maduro to set aside their bitter differences in order to avert a nightmare scenario. But Maduro isn’t budging as long as he has the military’s support. 

And the Trump administration is equally adamant: “Our sanctions will remain in effect, and increase until the Maduro regime accepts a genuine political transition,” the State Department said in a statement.