By Marcos Rubio
‘They’re not 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.” So said Secretary of State Antony Blinken of Venezuela’s narco-regime when I questioned him in October about President Biden’s decision to lift sanctions on Caracas. I’ll hold Mr. Blinken to his words: We must restore sanctions on Venezuela immediately.
Dictator Nicolás Maduro told Mr. Biden in October that he would permit a free and fair presidential election this year. Instead, Mr. Maduro has banned his leading opponent, María Corina Machado, from running for the next 15 years, while his thugs have persecuted her team and vandalized her campaign headquarters.
Mr. Biden has responded by restoring sanctions only on Venezuela’s state-owned gold-mining company. He’s waiting until April to restore sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector, allowing Mr. Maduro to spend two months shoring up his tyranny. Even after the April deadline, the dictator would be free to sell some sanction-free natural gas and trade off his regime’s debt.
This is an outrageously weak response from a president. For one, this sanction doesn’t help the people of Venezuela. The meager growth that Venezuela’s economy experienced last year has been more than offset by the empowerment of its oppressive regime. There are more political prisoners in Venezuela’s jail cells than before the Biden administration initiated its negotiations.
Mr. Biden’s decision embarrasses the U.S. The more we fail to enforce red lines, the more our adversaries are likely to attack. Our weakness in the Middle East has cost the lives of three Americans, with many more injured. We must re-establish our international credibility, and fast. If emboldened, Mr. Maduro might invade nearby Guyana, which could jeopardize the security of America’s oil and bauxite supply chains.
We have a lot to lose from strengthening such a dangerous regime. Venezuela is one of the main points for U.S. adversaries, including Iran, Russia and China, to enter our hemisphere. The country provides a stronghold for narco-terrorists who produce drugs and spread violence.
So why the inaction? Mr. Biden is hamstrung by socialist sympathizers in his party who believe the Venezuelan migrant crisis is the result of sanctions, not Mr. Maduro’s repressive regime and America’s open border. Mr. Biden must decide whose interests he will serve. Those of the American people or those of his party’s ideologues?
If we continue to appease Mr. Maduro, our hemisphere will become more dangerous and more anti-American. Restoring sanctions would be no silver bullet, but it would be a step in the right direction. I urge Mr. Blinken to hold fast to the commitments he made last October. If not, I will ask him to come before Congress to explain the reason for Mr. Biden’s unconscionable delay.
Marcos Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida. EnergiesNet.com does not necessarily share these views.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on February 5, 2024 . All comments posted and published on EnergiesNet or Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of EnergiesNet or Petroleumworld.
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EnergiesNet.com 02 08 2024