Anti-Maduro Leader Grumbles As U.S. May Lift Sanctions vs Venezuela
As the West imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, reports emerged that the United States might concurrently lift sanctions on the regime of another brutal dictator: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Photo Insert: Venezuela’s interim government leader Juan Guaido
A surprise visit by a US delegation to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, in March prompted immediate speculation that Washington was poised to ease sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports despite Maduro’s ongoing human rights violations, political oppression, and corruption, Isadora Zubillaga, the deputy foreign minister of Venezuela’s interim government under Juan Guaido, grumbled in an essay carried by Foreign Policy.
While the White House subsequently quashed rumors of such a deal, Maduro and his allies seized the opportunity to sideline democratic forces and cast his dictatorship as the only path to stability in Venezuela.
Tensions between Maduro and the opposition had been escalating for years but came to a head in 2019 when Venezuela’s parliament, known as the National Assembly, declined to recognize the results of the 2018 presidential election—which were widely considered to have been unfree and unfair—and declared National Assembly President Juan Guaidó interim president.
“International recognition of the interim government, in which I serve as deputy foreign minister, varies, and many countries maintain relations with both Guaidó and Maduro. The United States, for its part, recognizes Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful president. But after years spent decimating Venezuela’s political institutions, arresting and imprisoning political opponents, and tanking Venezuela’s economy, Maduro seems to have now calculated that Washington might abandon its commitment to Venezuela’s democratic forces and drop the sanctions that it had imposed on Venezuela’s state-owned oil industry. It is imperative the US makes clear that this is not on the table and instead condition sanctions relief on democratic reforms,” Zubillaga warned.