Mnuchin claimed at a press conference on Saturday that the US has been leading the effort to salvage the Venezuelan economy, stressing that the trade aid package would only be available to the government of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself “interim president” in January and swiftly won support from Washington as part of a US plot for regime change in Caracas, Presstv Reported.
A group of 20 mostly Western finance ministers that met earlier this week in Washington is “going to be working on trying to put together a consortium of about $10 billion of trade finance that would be available for the new government to spark trade,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin was speaking of the fifth meeting of finance ministers from the group of the so-called "Friends of Venezuela" that he hosted at the Treasury Department on Thursday. The meeting, which included many Latin American and European countries as well as Japan, was also attended by Guaido's economic advisers.
Speaking after the meeting, the US Treasury secretary said the ministers agreed to "support robust engagement by the international financial institutions to assist interim president Guaido's government as it prepares for new elections," stressing that "very significant trade finance" would be needed to revitalize Venezuela’s private sector.
Washington has been pressuring Maduro to step down and urging more countries to join the coalition supporting the Venezuelan opposition figure.
More than 50 countries including the United States and Venezuela’s largest neighbors have recognized Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the South American nation’s leader.
The Trump administration has imposed a raft of sanctions against Maduro’s government and even threatened to use military force in an attempt to remove him from power.
US-imposed sanctions have hurt the Venezuelan economy as well as ordinary people, who are already suffering from hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages, triggering mass migration to neighboring countries, such as Peru and Colombia.
Many Venezuelans, fleeing economic and political crisis at home, have joined migrant caravans of Central American countries over the past months and reached the US southern border with Mexico, where they have been facing an array of mistreatment and abuse.
About 3.7 million refugees have fled the worsening crisis in Venezuela in recent years -- a third to neighboring Colombia, according to the United Nations. That figure could reach five million by the end of the year.
Maduro blames US sanctions for the country's economic problems and dismisses Guaido as an American puppet.
Russia, China, Iran and Turkey are some of the countries that have remained steadfast in their support for Maduro's legal government.