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Biden Clings to a Bad Trump Policy on Venezuela: American Conservative

Biden Clings to a Bad Trump Policy on Venezuela: American Conservative
(Ruben Alfonzo/Shutterstock) Courtesy of The American Conservative

The Chavista regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have been catastrophic for the Venezuelan people. Authoritarian populists both, they wrecked the economy. They squandered oil resources. They destroyed democracy. They brutalized critics. They drove millions of despairing Venezuelans abroad. And they held onto power irrespective of the cost to everyone else.

What is America’s policy? Huffing and puffing, while punishing the Venezuelan people. The Trump administration sanctioned Venezuela, multiplying the hardship of an entire population already barely able to feed itself, claimed that an expired politician last elected in 2015 was the country’s legitimate president, and then cited the two-century old Monroe Doctrine when Iran, China, and Russia appeared in the country.

President Donald Trump also talked of invading Venezuela, only to retreat when he found no enthusiasm elsewhere in Latin America. This would not surprise anyone familiar with the long, sordid history of Yanqui Imperialism. However, U.S. involvement was suspected in the comically-inept Operation Gideon, a supposedly private military mission launched in 2020 to overthrow the Venezuelan regime.

President Joe Biden was expected to shift U.S. policy toward engagement. Yet over the last year little has changed. As with Cuba, the long-gone Trump administration remains in charge. Maduro and his cronies feast, the Venezuelan people suffer, and Washington continues to preach meaningless platitudes.

The State Department’s latest policy statement does not even mention sanctions, which have done much to impoverish the Venezuelan people. Although Maduro’s dirigiste practices underlie the country’s current economic collapse, U.S. restrictions have slashed oil revenues and otherwise amplified the people’s pain.

Francisco R. Rodriguez, founder and director of Oil for Venezuela, published a detailed economic study for the Fourth Freedom Forum earlier this month which concluded: “The preponderance of evidence indicates that sanctions and other statecraft measures—including the formal recognition of a government with no de facto control over the territory—have had a strong and significant negative effect on the Venezuelan economy. These actions have made a sizable contribution to declining oil production, exacerbating the country’s fiscal crisis, and contributing to one of the largest documented peacetime economic contractions in modern history.”

*Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.


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