Time for More Economic Sanctions and Export Controls
Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s new strongman, is anything but ordinary. Unlike his loquacious and rambunctious predecessor, Maduro is a politically rudderless boob who prefers to allow puppet-masters in Havana tell him what to do. And he is not doing a very good job at that either.
The country is in economic and political shambles. There is a national shortage of toilet paper. Yes, you read right, toilet paper. The infrastructure is crumbling, especially the power grid. Power outages are a commonplace and Venezuelans plan their daily chores around them. Rather than own up to mistakes, Maduro and his thugocracy are, you guessed it, blaming the Americans.
As reported in the DiploPundit, Maduro late last month said that the blackouts are “the result of a plot by the extreme Right to mount an “electrical strike” against the country.” The script is not unique. The Cuban regime has been saying the same thing for decades. Another lie. The Cubans also blame economic sanctions for all of their woes. Venezuela is just following the Cuban script.
Just as the Maduro-Castro regime has started to expel from Venezuela high-ranking opposition staffers, the regime is continuing the sideshow by taking aim at U.S.-Venezuelan relations. The regime believes the expulsions will satiate the masses’ growing discontent with the government. It may be too little, too late. The Maduro-Castro regime is starting to hurt, bad. We need to respond.
The United States should have imposed targeted economic sanctions on the Venezuelan regime long ago, before Hugo Chavez died. While Venezuelan bad actors have been added to many U.S. watch lists that blocks U.S. persons from doing business with them, as well as blocking access to Venezuelans to U.S. financial markets, much more is needed. U.S. efforts should start with targeting the Venezuelan energy sector as well as numerous banks that have questionable ties, including some to state sponsor of terrorism Iran and Cuba.
Without economic sanctions, the Venezuelan government has done a fine job destroying the economy of an OPEC member nation. It has tried to blame the United States for these woes, however, that dog does not hunt. We should make the most of this dire situation and ratchet up economic pressure by closing off access to the U.S. financial markets, as well as the South Florida economy.
While we are at it, export controls of dual-use technology should also be revisited. There are numerous reports that the regime is in the process of purchasing sensitive electronic equipment in the United States to boost its spying capabilities on its own people and the opposition. Really want to be ambitious, the U.S. should also limit travel of Venezuelan officials within the United States. We already control movements by Cuban regime diplomats. Why not the Venezuelans?