Scott Leads Conservative Senators Urging Biden Reorient Latam Foreign Policy

Scott Leads Conservative Senators Urging Biden Reorient Latam Foreign Policy

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
February 27, 2024

A group of conservative senators led by Rick Scott (R-FL) has penned a letter urging President Joe Biden reconsider his current foreign policy strategy in Latin America. 

The letter alleges President Biden’s current strategy is a “misuse” of US influence and runs counter to the nation’s foreign policy interests. 

Namely, the senators criticized Biden’s designation of former president of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei for acts of significant corruption under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations act. 

According to the senators, President Giammattei had been a “strong US security partner committed to the extradition of several human smugglers and the destruction of illicit synthetic opioids.”

Additionally, the senators contrasted Biden’s treatment of Giammattei with his treatment of other notorious dictators and autocrats in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The senators took issue with Biden’s alleged failure to use Section 7031(c) to designate any individual or entity connected with Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro

Conversely, Biden lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gold sectors in exchange for assurances the country would be committed to holding fair elections in October of last year.

Conservative lawmakers called for Biden to impose new sanctions on Venezuela after Maduro continued repressing opposition figures despite the US lifting sanctions. 

The Biden administration renewed gold sanctions and announced it would renew the oil and gas sanctions relief provided, which expires on April 18, unless Maduro change course.

Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado and her team have been a primary target of Maduro’s regime. 

Recently, Machado appeared in a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the fight for freedom in Venezuela led by U.S. Representative Maria-Elvira Salazar (R-FL).

Machado stated during the hearing she is “determined to turn Venezuela into a marvelous nation that our children can, and will, come back to.”

“The regime is in their weakest position ever,” said Machado, who is optimistic about the ability to pressure Maduro into permitting free and fair elections later this year.

When asked about the sanctions relief agreement and Maduro’s —as any dictator’s— willingness to conduct competitive elections and give up power, Machado responded, “I don’t think the dictator is willing to give power yet.  But we’re not naïve… we’ve never had this balance of force before. The regime is weak and is cracking and we need to create incentives… to ensure key players who are with the regime… understand it’s in their own best interest…” to continue cooperating with Maduro.  “We have a real opportunity for a real transition through presidential elections that should take place this year.”


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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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