The Cuba-controlled dictatorial regime in Venezuela is running out of money. That is a good thing. Anemic as they are, U.S. economic sanctions are working, and they should be a great deal more robust.
Last week the U.S.Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned ten (10) Venezuelan government officials including the cultural minister, the former food minister, and eight others. The European Union is supposedly going to announce a round of economic sanctions targeting corrupt officials as well as imposing an arms embargo.
The only viable option for regional stability and the people of Venezuela is asking Nicolas Maduro, Iran/Hizbollah ally Tareck Zaidan El Aissami, and others to step down and a caretaker government be installed. Regime change is the only way forward to transition the nation back to the democratic path; elections under the current system are a waste of time.
U.S., E.U., and other economic sanctions will only work if we don’t work to undermine them. For example, creating exceptions to already weak sanctions targeting scheme will undermine regime change. That is what happened last week. While 10 Venezuelan officials were sanctioned, the Treasury Department also announced later in the day that exceptions were made so that negotiations could continue on debt talks.
Venezuela needs to refinance and restructure its more than $100 billion debt portfolio; the free world should not make it easier for them to wiggle out of its political or economic obligations. The U.S., the E.U., and other liberty-focused nations should find creative ways to get different actors out of the picture, especially Cuba. Cuba must be told to withdraw its advisers from Venezuela immediately. In addition to financial sanctions, liberal use should be made of Global Magnitksy law and other sanctions programs.
Economic sanctions are essential, but sanctions are a tool, not a policy. What the people of the Andean region and Venezuela need is regime change, not a negotiated outcome that will allow progressives to remain in control of the largest oil economy in Latin America. These characters, controlled by Cuba, are not capable of fixing the oil sector, much less provide the conditions needed for democratic rule. Maduro, El Aissami, and others have to go. The sooner this happens, the safer and more stable the Western Hemisphere will be.