Juan González
Juan González X

President Joe Biden's top Latin America adviser, Juan Sebastián González, is stepping down from his role, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

González, special assistant to Biden and the National Security Council's senior director for the Western Hemisphere, will depart from his role in March for personal reasons. He will be replaced by Daniel Erikson, the current deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere.

The outlet highlighted González's role in the Biden administration's Venezuela strategy and his push for sanctions relief in exchange for democratic reforms. The initiative, which seemed to show some progress in late 2023 with the Barbados agreements (aimed precisely at those goals) have taken a significant blow in the past weeks.

Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that opposition leader and likely presidential contender María Corina Machado could not run for public office until 2036, upholding accusations of fraud and tax violations as well as supporting the economic sanctions the U.S. imposed on Venezuela over the last decade.

As the U.S. threatens to to put back sanctions on Venezuela for this, the Maduro government is doubling down. High-ranking officials have threatened to halt deportation flights from the United States and, on Sunday, law enforcement officials detained human rights activist Rocío San Miguel, claiming she was involved in a plot to kill president Nicolás Maduro and other high ranking officials.

The apprehension was confirmed by prosecutor general Tarek William Saab, who added that the alleged conspiracy, dubbed "white bracelet," was also aimed at attacking military units across the country. On subsequent days news surfaced that members of her family had been arrested too.

The news catalyzed a swift backlash among the country's opposition and other human rights activists, who claimed that San Miguel was being detained for political purposes.

In that context, the White House said it aware of reports regarding her arrest and that of members of her family and that is following the events "very closely." "We are deeply concerned about it," said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday.

Bloomberg also recalled González's role in speeding up the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines to Latin America in 2021, and him being part of the task force working on immigration policy and the country's southern border.

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