Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro took out a full page ad in the New York Times to denounce targeted U.S. economic sanctions against seven of his henchmen that have engaged in human rights abuses against political opposition leaders. You can read a little more about the sanctions in a prior post on this site: Targeted Venezuela Sanctions, Better Late Than Never. As for the Maduro missive in the Times it is, as expected, a propaganda piece full of coarse language and untruths.
Opponents of economic sanctions were quick to say, as they usually do on every issue where sanctions are at play as a policy tool, that imposing targeted sanctions, not sectoral sanctions, on regime officials would hand the hardliners a convenient political and rhetorical weapon. They will point to the New York Times ad as proof that the U.S. needlessly escalated tensions within Venezuela. Even if that were the case – and it is not – so what?
Diplomacy has achieved very little in Venezuela for the past 10 years or longer. There comes a time economic sanctions, and other fulsome measures, need to be put on the table. And despite the pundits arguments to the contrary, they work. Be patient. That was one of the points I discussed with CB24 News yesterday (interview embedded). CB24 is the first and only twenty-four news service based in Central America (Costa Rica) and viewed throughout the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere. It is a great alternative to the left-wing propaganda broadcast by teleSUR and other regional news organizations.
Venezuela and its cadre of socialist progressives should take note that they are losing support, including in Washington, DC. Even Democratic Members of Congress that tend not to chime in on these matters have started to distance themselves from these folks. By the way, on a somewhat related note, fellow travelers in Havana abruptly cancelled an unscheduled third round of talks with the United States over this issue. It is a good lesson for folks in this town who still think it is possible to reason with these people. Latin American Leftists are democrats in name only. Their only aim is to spread socialism/communism even if, as in the case of Cuba, it needs to cozy up with the Yankee Imperialists to make it so.
As for the sanctions, let’s see if the Obama Administration keeps doing the right thing and continues to ratchet up the pressure. There are plenty of bad actors, some residing in South Florida, who should be listed on OFAC’s SDN list for money laundering, drug trafficking, and other crimes. The Obama Administration should also take aim at officials with the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. And, maybe some day soon, a tranche of sectoral sanctions would be good as well, starting the Venezuela’s oil sector (for a few months only to gauge reaction by markets as well as folks on the ground in Venezuela; I guarantee Cuban regime officials will flip – and, maybe, it will help improve their behavior during “talks” with the United States – n.b., I doubt this would ever happen).