State Department's Ambivalent Venezuelan Stance Decried by Conservatives

State Department's Ambivalent Venezuelan Stance Decried by Conservatives

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 2, 2024

As a sanctions relief deadline looms, conservatives are renewing calls for President Joe Biden to reinstate previously lifted sanctions on Venezuela

In October of last year, the Biden Administration lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gold sectors in exchange for assurances Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro would hold fair elections.

As Dictator Maduro jailed opposition figures and barred them from running for office, the Administration reimposed gold sanctions and announced it would renew the oil and gas sanctions relief provided, which expires on April 18.

However, the US State Department recently refused to confirm if oil sanctions relief would be extended. 

US Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller refused to answer when asked if sanctions would be reimposed.

“So the only thing I’ll say is we’ve made clear that that general license with respect to oil expires in April, and you heard us say some months ago that that’s an important date to watch,” said Miller. 

Miller’s cryptic language mirrors the strategic ambiguity approach adopted by the State Department for its Venezuela relations. 

Last November, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) received similar opaque answers while directly questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken assured Venezuela will not be “getting a free pass for actions they take that are in contradiction to the commitments that they’ve made to move toward free and fair elections,” but eschewed declaring sanctions would be imposed. 

Conservatives have incessantly requested Biden cease all sanctions relief.

US Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has repeatedly opined sanctions are the best strategy for combating authoritarian regimes, and implored Biden to immediately change course.

“Now that it's evident that lifting sanctions was a serious mistake, Biden must take action, reverse his appeasement, reimpose sanctions on Maduro & stand with the people of Venezuela,” said Senator Scott.

As the April 18 deadline nears, Venezuelans at home and abroad will attentively watch whether Biden will punish the harbinger of Venezuelan misery or throw him another bone.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

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

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