Biden’s Latest Dance With A Murderous Latin Dictator
Is the Biden Administration preparing to ease sanctions on Venezuela to increase the global supply of oil? The State Department denies it, but this is a potentially damaging U.S. policy shift that bears watching in Congress.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador returned from a visit to Havana this month and announced the next day that the U.S. had agreed with Caracas to buy one million barrels of Venezuelan crude daily. [bold, links added]
This would require lifting U.S. sanctions that are designed to squeeze the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro and help return the country to democracy.
A State Department official told us last week that the “current Venezuela-related sanctions remain in effect” and that “there are no changes or new agreements.”
But Mr. López Obrador knows that U.S. engagement with Venezuela—and with Cuba—is a goal of many Democrats in Washington.
He also knows that companies like Chevron are lobbying to ease sanctions so they can resume operating in Venezuela.
In March, Team Biden sent three representatives to Caracas to talk to Mr. Maduro. Venezuela later released two of more than a half-dozen American hostages it has been holding.
The regime used the meeting to spread a propaganda message that Washington now recognizes its legitimacy. Rumors persist that back-channel talks continue.
Pressure to ease sanctions is also coming from the political left on Capitol Hill. Last week 18 Democrats wrote to President Biden, asking him to do away with sanctions they call “one of the leading causes” of Venezuelan suffering.
But the real leading cause is Mr. Maduro’s socialist policies that have generated hyperinflation, poverty, corruption, and widespread malnutrition and produced millions of Venezuelan refugees.
The letter also notes that providing sanctions relief to the police state should be done “without hindering or delaying the urgent action needed to transition the U.S. economy off of fossil fuels.”
That would be a neat trick since Venezuela’s oil industry is a notorious polluter.
Mr. Maduro and predecessor Hugo Chávez destroyed the nation’s oil infrastructure and looted the national oil monopoly.
Even if U.S. investors are allowed to begin pumping oil again, the Venezuelan supply wouldn’t make much of a dent in global oil prices.
But it is revealing that American progressives put appeasing the Latin left above their climate-change principles.
Meantime, the Maduro regime still murders dissidents and holds hundreds of political prisoners. There have been no free and honest elections in Venezuela in two decades.
The regime supports the Cuban dictatorship with oil shipments, while Havana remains the most destabilizing, antidemocratic actor in the Western Hemisphere. Both are allies of Russia.
The Biden Administration’s sanctions dance with the dictator is taking place even as it acts at every turn to restrict U.S. oil and production.
The contradiction is hard to fathom other than as a triumph of ideology over reason.
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