Biden Rejects Call to Lift Economic Sanctions on Venezuela

June 21st, 2021 - by Nick Wadhams / Bloomberg & Dave DeCamp /

US Rejects Maduro’s Call for Biden to Lift Venezuela Sanctions

Nick Wadhams / Bloomberg

(June 20, 2021) — President Joe Biden’s administration rejected Nicolas Maduro’s call for relief from US sanctions, saying the Venezuelan leader needs to do more toward restoring democracy before penalties would be lifted.

Maduro, a target of crippling US sanctions under former President Donald Trump, reached out to Biden in an exclusive Bloomberg interview last week, calling on him to lift sanctions, normalize relations and end the “demonization of Venezuela.”

Responding to Maduro’s comments, a State Department spokesman said a US policy shift would require major changes by the Venezuelan president. They’d have to include engaging with opposition leader Juan Guaido to resolve the country’s political crisis and pave the way for free and fair elections, as well as restoring economic and political freedoms.

As long as “repression and corrupt practices” by Maduro and his supporters continue, the US will work with its partners and allies to keep up the pressure, including sanctions against those who undermine democracy, the spokesman said by email.

Trump’s administration recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president after Maduro was inaugurated for a second term in 2019 after an election that the US and others said was rigged. In the Bloomberg interview, Maduro said his government has no dialogue with the US, a silence he blamed on “permanent extortion” by Venezuelan voters in Florida.

The US stance on Maduro’s lack of legitimacy hasn’t changed since Biden took office, said the State Department spokesman, who responded to question on condition of anonymity. The US doesn’t accept Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate president and instead recognizes Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, as the interim president, according to the spokesman.

The Trump administration barred Venezuela from US financial markets in 2017 and subsequently banned trading in Venezuelan debt and doing business with the state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA.

That policy, Maduro argued, is preventing Venezuela from paying down and restructuring its foreign debt. He said “I have the plan” to repay bondholders — an assertion rejected by the State Department spokesman, who blamed Maduro’s economic mismanagement and said his claim to have a repayment plan isn’t credible.

US Sanctions Have Done Nothing but Hurt the Civilian Population

Dave DeCamp /

(June 20, 2021) — The Biden administration has rejected a call from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to lift crushing sanctions on the South American country that were imposed by the Trump administration.

In an interview last week, Maduro said President Biden should lift sanctions and normalize relations with Venezuela. Responding to Maduro’s comments in an email to Bloomberg, a State Department spokesman said a change in Venezuela policy would only be done if Maduro engages with Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as interim president of Venezuela even though Maduro holds the office.

The State Department spokesman’s comments mean that Biden is pursuing the same failed regime change policy as Trump. The US first recognized Guaido as president in January 2019. After a failed coup attempt, Guaido lost what little support he had inside Venezuela and has become increasingly irrelevant ever since.

President Trump first sanctioned Venezuela in 2017 and increased the measures throughout his presidency. Venezuela is now essentially under a US embargo. The only thing Trump’s policy has done is increased the suffering of ordinary Venezuelans. By choosing to keep the sanctions, Biden is continuing the economic warfare against the Venezuelan people.

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