EDITORIAL: The Case for U.S. Oil Sanctions against Venezuela

crisis - venezuela
PanAm Post Editorial: It’s time for the U.S. to impose an oil embargo on the Chavista regime in Venezuela. (Twitter)

EspañolThe case for U.S. oil sanctions against Venezuela: This past weekend much coverage was given to some Latin American politicians opposing a possible U.S. embargo on imports of Venezuelan oil into the U.S.

The arguments presented against using the so-called “nuclear option” against the thuggish and dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro centers on the possible effects of such actions on the Venezuelan people.

It is the opinion of this newspaper that such fears are misplaced. Venezuela is on the cusp of an out and out civil war, and it is only through the enactment of the severest possible sanctions that a roguish and brutal regime, such as Mr. Maduro’s, and its allies in Cuba can be forced to accept a diplomatic solution.

The Washington Post summarized the objections presented by those who oppose U.S. oil sanctions in an excellent piece by Anthony Faiola yesterday. Using Faiola’s summary, we’d like to debunk each argument against the sanctions:

It’s too blunt an instrument

Those opposing the sanctions claim that Venezuela will not be able to feed its people or import medicines without the income provided to the regime by its hated enemy, the United States, in the form of oil purchases. This is false. Shortages of food, medicine and most basic items have been present in Venezuela since the last quarter of 2014, when oil was selling well above $100/barrel and no one was yet threatening the country with sanctions.

The truth is that the shortages, as we have previously insisted in these pages, have nothing to do with the price of oil, but rather are the result of the fanatical implementation by the Chavista regime of the same socialist policies that produced famine and starvation in the Soviet Union, China and every other nation intent on installing a Marxist regime.

Venezuelans could be better fed, and have ample medicines even with a much smaller external revenue if market forces were allowed to function, and if corrupt army officers were not taking a cut of each and every dollar of imports entering Venezuela today.

As we pointed out in a recent article, Venezuela’s population is identical to that of Peru, as is its gross revenue from exports, and yet Venezuelans are starving while Peru is thriving and even exporting food items. Evidently the current troubles affecting the people of Venezuela are not caused by a lack of funds, but by the socialist ideology of a regime that compounds the problem with corruption surpassing even African levels.

Moreover, with an inflation rate topping 1,000 percent according to respected Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke, by far the world’s highest rate, even when food reaches the state-run markets, it is not affordable to the majority of Venezuelans. As The New York Times reported this weekend, most of the protesters massively demonstrating in Venezuela’s cities for the last three months mention hunger as the key factor that brought them to the streets.

The Maduro regime is intent on propagating the idea that the Venezuelan economy is on a death spiral due to the collapse of its oil income. That is false. While starving its population, the regime’s leaders have amassed enormous sums. According to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, Venezuela’s vice president Tarek El-Aissami, accused by the U.S. Treasury of being the ring leader of an international drug dealing gang, has accumulated a fortune of USD $5 billion. These funds would be enough to feed most of Venezuela for almost a year.

The embargo would give Maduro someone else to blame

This is the weakest of all the arguments against the embargo. If Venezuela were a land of plenty and its economy suddenly collapsed due to a US embargo, Maduro would indeed have someone else to blame. Keep in mind, however, that Venezuelans have been starving and have been suffering from severe shortages of medication, toilet paper, soap, diapers and almost every other imaginable product since late 2014. It is unfathomable that the millions of Venezuelans who have been out in the streets pleading for regime change would somehow, overnight, blame the United States for their troubles. Venezuela in 2017 is not Cuba in 1958, even if the traditional argument used against the Cuban embargo were true, which it is not.

It should be understood that Venezuelans are fighting against not one, but two dictatorships. The struggle inside Venezuela is as much against Raúl Castro as it is against Nicolás Maduro.

During his testimony to the U.S. Senate last week, OAS Secretary General Almagro stated: “There are 15,000 Cubans in Venezuela…It’s like an occupation army.”

The fact is that Cuba is like a leech sucking the blood from Venezuela. As long as Cuba’s communist regime can get some revenue out of Venezuela, it will use any tool at its disposal to keep the Maduro regime in power. The blood that the Cuban leech is sucking is the flow of dollars from Venezuelan oil exports to the United States.

By importing oil from Venezuela, the United States is not helping to keep the Venezuelan population fed. It is helping Raúl Castro avoid discontent at home, because a good chunk of those funds end up in Havana, not Caracas.

Cuba is completely broke. It’s occupying army in Venezuela cannot be maintained without, ironically, the funds paid by its enemy, the United States, for Venezuelan oil. If the flow of funds is cut, Castro will have to choose between keeping his foothold in Venezuela and mass starvation at home. He will choose to leave, and the moment he does, Venezuela will also be freed of Maduro and his cronies.

Obama holdovers at the State Department will probably oppose an oil embargo. They should be ignored.

Obama’s failed policy of appeasement during the last eight years left a giant mess for the Trump administration to tackle. The United States is facing its biggest threats within its own hemisphere since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Obama State Department is entirely to blame.

We trust that, by enforcing an oil embargo against the Maduro regime, the United States will not only regain initiative in the region, but also send a clear signal to other Latin American regimes, like those of Nicaragua and Bolivia, that the U.S. is again actively engaged against the enemies of democracy.

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