In what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling a “sham” election, Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro was re-elected on Sunday, despite an abysmally paralyzed economy, starving people, and crushing national debt.
“Sunday’s process was choreographed by a regime too unpopular and afraid of its own people to risk-free elections and open competition,” Pompeo explained, vowing “swift economic and diplomatic actions.”
As many on the world stage look to the US to end the rule of Maduro’s socialist party in Venezuela, as the population of one of the most resource-rich nations on the planet struggles to survive amid severe poverty and starvation, Trump administration slapped Venezuela with new sanctions as a response to the questionable election.
The Washington Free Beacon‘s Susan Crabtree reports that a “new executive order bars U.S. citizens from being involved in sales of the country’s accounts receivable when it comes to oil and other assets,” which would prevent Venezuela from being able to sell off their debt to the US.
“However,” Crabtree continues, “the Trump administration stopped short of slapping tougher direct oil sanctions against the Maduro regime, a step that opposition leaders have pressed for and was widely anticipated to take place in the wake of Maduro’s orchestrated victory at the polls.”
“Targeted crude oil sanctions against Venezuela would cripple Maduro’s leftist administration, which is entirely dependent on crude sales to prop up its increasingly isolated and insolvent government,” she explains. “President Trump and top administration officials are wary of taking any action that would further hurt the Venezuelan people, who are already suffering from widespread food shortages brought on by the economic crisis.”
However, many critics of Venezuela’s government are urging the Trump administration to pursue the oil sanctions.
Enrique Altimari, an anti-Maduro activist who serves as the Latin American Studies fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, says that the Maduro regime would not be able to survive US oil sanctions.
“Oil is usually bought in advance, so the impact would be immediate, and within three months, the government would be already seriously damaged,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “The opposition would use, not only for international pressure, but internal pressure to hopefully start a true dialogue to set the terms for [Maduro’s] way out of government and out of Venezuela.”
He also added that the sanctions were unlikely to hurt the Venezuelan people further, as Maduro usually uses oil income to fund his own government and military, unsurprisingly.
The Trump administration has not taken the possibility of oil sanctions off the table, and a senior Trump official said in a conference call on Monday that the entire region has an interest in putting an end to the Maduro regime.
“Everybody is truly together on this—there is unity in the hemisphere that is almost unprecedented,” the official said of how the region will deal with this “crisis of democracy.”
“The region has never seen a kleptocracy like this—a nation as wealthy [as Venezuela is] driven into an economic death spiral so quickly by such a group of individuals determined to enrich themselves at the expense of their people,” the official added.
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