What are Trump’s real reasons for sanctions against Venezuela?

This week, the U.S. announced it will impose sanctions directly on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions mean Maduro’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen and people from the U.S. are prohibited from dealing with the head of state and are part of a widening of sanctions against Venezuela. Additionally, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear his wish for ‘regime change,’ and last week the CIA’s chief admitted they were working in this direction.


These are not the Trump administration’s first attempt to hit the Venezuelan government using sanctions. In February, the Treasury Department also introduced sanctions on the Venezuelan Vice President and in July they extended existing economic sanctions against the country.


They sit alongside the US Executive Order which deems the situation in Venezuela as “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”, and provides the justification for using the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose sanctions.


Worse may be yet to come, as the Trump administration threatens to impose wider economic sanctions on the country, which are likely to make matters worse in a country already struggling to deal with the global collapse in oil prices.


Members of the US Congress have argued that unilateral economic sanctions “could deepen the country’s economic and political crisis and undermine any movements toward dialogue and negotiations.”


Indeed, recent polling in Venezuela show that US economic sanctions are not backed by supporters of either the Government or the opposition.


So what then are the real reasons behind Trump’s desire for more and more sanctions on Venezuela?


For evidence of the ideological motivation behind Trump’s sanctions, and how they link into the desire to restate US control of Latin America, we need look no further than Nicaragua, where allegations of problems in the electoral system have been used to justify the Nica Act (Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act), which seeks to impose conditions on loans from multilateral organisations to the country’s government that was recently re-elected by a landslide.


Furthermore, Trump’s harsh – and dubiously legal or legitimate actions against the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua stand in sharp contrast to his silence on the many problems experienced by citizens of countries in the region with a more US-friendly neo-liberal agenda such as Honduras.


There can be little doubt that the sanctions are driven more by opposition to the international outlook of governments such as those in Venezuela and Nicaragua, than any genuine concern for the citizens of those countries. In Venezuela of course, the issue of its massive oil reserves should never be forgotten.


Instead of yet more disastrous US attempts at regime change in Venezuela, which as the US writer Mark Weisbrot has said have had a “hideous history in the Americas” , international efforts should focus on constructive engagement and supporting a dialogue process as a peaceful way forward to resolve the country’s difficulties.


  • Susan Grey is an Executive Committee member of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – you can follow them on Twitter here and Facebook here. Their recent statement can be read here.

This article was originally published by Left Futures at: http://www.leftfutures.org/2017/08/what-are-trumps-real-reasons-for-sanctions-against-venezuela/