New White Paper Shows Economic Sanctions Ineffective;  Sanctions on Maduro Regime Members Work   

New White Paper Shows Economic Sanctions Ineffective;  Sanctions on Maduro Regime Members Work   

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
April 18, 2024

MIAMI, FL—As world leaders debate the effectiveness of removing or intensifying sanctions on dictatorial regimes across the globe, in particular Venezuela, Florida International University and the George W. Bush Institute have released a new white paper concluding that economic sanctions on autocracies are unproductive and inadequate, however, personal sanctions against individuals tend to be more effective.

The white paper analyzes case studies on three separate countries, all U.S. adversaries --Iran, Russia, and Venezuela – to examine the effectiveness of sanctions as they relate to the political and economic spheres.  In all three cases, states the paper, economic sanctions have been largely ineffective.

Last December, FIU commissioned a public opinion poll on whether the US sanctions on Venezuela were working.

According to the survey, the sanctions were not working.

Beginning with Iran, a country the U.S. has meddled with since the 1950s, the report finds that economic sanctions on the Islamic nation have simply pushed them to seek new deals with other nations more politically aligned with their values, effectively propelling them toward Syria and China.

They have also aligned themselves with terrorist organizations in Palestine, Lebanon, and Yemen.

"As these relations continue to develop, it is likely that sanctions will fail to achieve their main objective of disassociating the regime from activity that the U.S. considers threatening," the report says. "Early intentions to curb Iran’s support for international terrorism, strengthen civil liberties, and slow its nuclear advancement continue to worry Washington, with the possibility of conflict emerging as conditions in the Middle East continue to deteriorate."

Instead of focusing on the economic integrity of the nation as a whole, the paper states, the U.S. should narrow its focus to specific financial sanctions, or "restrictions that target Iran’s financial institutions, foreign currency reserves, and access to the international market," as these "are much more effective than broad economic controls".

The report turned to Russia, an entity that has heightened tensions with the United States since the 1940s. The U.S. relies on several Russian goods, such as refined petroleum and platinum—making it difficult for the West to maximize economic sanctions on the formerly communist country.

Despite this, Russian sanctions enacted in 2014 have done little to achieve U.S. political goals. Like Iran, by cutting Russia off from Western markets, Russia has increased its alliances and trade with nations more aligned with their goals, such as India and communist China, the report says.

"Russia continues to expand its illegal activity and shadow economy to skirt sanctions. By looking to Central Asia and China, it has accessed sanctioned goods through unauthorized or black channels that disguise its operations," the report says. "Russia’s diversion of the oil price cap through its shadow fleet demonstrates how its shadow tactics complicate sanctions enforcement and effectiveness."

As for Venezuela, currently under the dictatorial rule of Nicolas Maduro, sanctions were successful in damaging the state's economy, but not in achieving the U.S.'s main goal: the removal of Maduro.

"Similar to the Iran and Russia case studies, sanctions have failed to reverse Venezuela’s autocratic governance," the report says, highlighting Maduro's continued ignorance of Democratic leaders, alleged endorsement of drug trafficking, and threats of annexing neighboring Guyana.

Biden Administration Reimposes Oil & Gas Sanctions on Venezuela

This Wednesday, the US Treasury Dept. announced that the United States will reimpose sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector in response to the Maduro government’s failure to allow “an inclusive and competitive election” to take place.

Last October, OFAC had issued a temporary authorization -- General License 44-- to allow transactions with the country’s national oil and gas sector.

The sanctions relief expired at midnight on Wednesday, but the OFAC announcement states that there will be a 45-day wind-down period for transactions related to the oil and gas operations. According to quotes from U.S. officials, the wind-down period is needed so that the expiration “does not provoke uncertainty in the global energy sector.”

Earlier this week, a group of 857 members of Venezuela’s Civil Society signed an “open letter” where they call on the Maduro government to respect the Barbados agreement and guarantee that  “Venezuelans in the country or abroad can exercise their right to vote;” to the Opposition, they ask that it “respects what was agreed in Barbados, despite the repeated non-compliance of the [government];” and to the international community they ask that it “maintains its commitment” to the negotiations process and to “preserve the flexibility of Venezuela's participation in the international energy market and to avoid its reversal in the middle of the presidential campaign,” which not only negatively impacts the people’s quality of life, but also “further complicates the possibilities of continuing the negotiations.”


Reactions to the Biden Administration’s Announcement to Reimpose Sanctions on Venezuela

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is one of many Republicans who believe that economic sanctions against the Maduro government should be kept in place an even hardened, also wants tough sanctions levied against individuals within the regime.

“The Biden Administration’s confused appeasement policy emboldens the anti-American Maduro regime and opens up additional resources to oppress the democratic opposition, puts at risk Venezuela’s neighbors in the region, and threatens key U.S. national security interests," said Rep. Diaz-Balart in a statement to The Floridian.

Democrat Rep. Jared Moskowitz recently told The Floridian that due to Maduro's blatant 'election interference' moves against the opposition political party, the U.S. government should consider putting more individual sanctions against "members of his regime.":

“The Venezuelan Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify the opposition primary winner was extremely concerning. I believe this and other actions that do not align with the Barbados Agreement must result in a reconsideration of our sanctions relief. If President Maduro continues to act contrary to his commitments to allow political engagement from all political parties, the United States should take direct action against members of his regime,” said Congressman Jared Moskowitz.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), who represents the largest Venezuelan population in Florida, emphasized her efforts to hold the Maduro regime accountable, and her support for free elections in that country.

“I know the people I represent appreciate the Administration’s commitment to amplify the voices of Venezuelan Americans who demand democracy,” she said. “I look forward to continuing my legislative efforts to complement the President’s policy, including the VOICE Act, which would sanction corrupt regime officials attempting to rig Venezuela’s presidential election and disenfranchise millions of Venezuelans,” stated Rep. Wasserman Schultz

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at

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