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US Sanctions on Venezuela: A Policy Reversal



The United States' approach to Venezuela has seen a significant shift under the Biden administration, marking a departure from the previous aggressive stance. In a noteworthy development, the Biden administration recently eased some sanctions on Venezuela, particularly in the energy and gold sectors, following an agreement by President Nicolas Maduro to hold elections next year.


This change in policy is indicative of the failure of the US to defeat Venezuela through sanctions, as the harsh economic measures imposed by the previous Trump administration did not achieve their intended goals but instead inflicted widespread suffering on the Venezuelan population.


During the Trump administration, the United States strongly supported Juan Guaido's attempted coup against President Nicolas Maduro. The objective was clear: to topple the Maduro regime and destroy the Venezuelan economy through a comprehensive sanctions strategy. These sanctions were expected to cripple the government and force it into submission.


However, these sanctions failed to threaten President Maduro's government effectively. Instead, they had a devastating impact on the ordinary people of Venezuela. The American economic war led to severe suffering, with estimates suggesting that it contributed to tens of thousands of Venezuelan deaths. It became increasingly apparent that the sanctions were not achieving their desired results.


Under President Joe Biden, the US has adopted a different approach. The Treasury Department recently announced a significant easing of sanctions on Venezuela, signaling a change in strategy. The decision was largely driven by the agreement reached between the Unitary Platform and Maduro representatives to hold elections.


In response to these democratic developments, the US Department of the Treasury issued General Licenses authorizing transactions involving Venezuela's oil and gas sector and gold sector, while also removing the ban on secondary trading.


It's important to note that not all sanctions have been lifted. The State Department emphasized that many sanctions will remain in place, indicating that the Biden administration's approach is one of cautious engagement rather than a complete rollback of sanctions.


Perhaps one of the most striking changes in policy is the resumption of deportations to Venezuela by the United States. Despite the easing of some sanctions, the White House authorized the deportation of Venezuelan migrants back to Caracas. This move raises important questions about the Biden administration's overall strategy and its implications for Venezuelan migrants who may face uncertain and challenging circumstances upon their return.


The path forward for US-Venezuela relations remains uncertain, but the failure of sanctions as a means to achieve regime change is increasingly apparent.

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