Washington is studying options for imposing sanctions against Venezuela’s energy sector as a way of pressuring the South American country’s government to step down. No decision has been made yet, however, two sources from the Trump administration told Reuters. It may never be made, given all the questions surrounding such a move.
For one thing, sanctions may well have the opposite effect and solidify Maduro’s power – the Venezuelan president is accusing the U.S. of working with the opposition to topple the government. For another, if the U.S. imposes sanctions, this will almost certainly lead to a humanitarian crisis, which nobody wants.
There are also practical considerations, centering on the fact that the U.S. imports oil from the Venezuela. In March, it accounted for 8 percent of total crude imports, third after Canada and Saudi Arabia. For Venezuela, the U.S. is the biggest buyer of its oil.
According to Reuters, the shape the sanctions could take range from a blanket ban on crude oil imports from Venezuela, which will quickly put Venezuela’s oil industry in a coma, to banning PDVSA from doing business in the U.S., and to only banning it from taking part in U.S. government tenders. The latter option is the softest.
The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on certain individuals from the government of Nicolas Maduro, including his vice president, and eight justices from the Supreme Court.
There are also grounds for wider ones: corruption and indirect human rights abuse, the White House officials told Reuters.
According to Adam Smith Institute fellow Tim Worstall, sanctions are a bad idea that will have an effect opposite to the one sought.
Besides further strengthening Maduro, they will also fail to bring Venezuela’s oil industry to its knees: oil, he notes, is a fungible commodity, and when one export market closes, another can always be found.
After enduring shortages of food and medicine for years, as well as a total collapse of their currency, the people of Venezuela have had enough. Last week it was estimated that 2.5 million people marched against the Maduro regime, which had previously tried to strip away the powers of the opposition-led parliament. It’s estimated that as many as 6 million people may have taken to the streets to protest throughout the country.
In the lead-up to the protest, which had been planned for weeks by opposition political parties, President Maduro issued an alarming proclamation that didn’t receive nearly enough press. He promised to expand the nation’s armed militia, and hand out firearms to as many as 400,000 loyalists.
The Bolivarian militias, currently at approximately 100,000, were created by the late Hugo Chavez to assist the armed forces in the defense of his revolution from external and domestic attacks.
Speaking to thousands of militia members dressed in beige uniforms gathered in front of the presidential palace, Maduro said that vision remains relevant as Venezuela continues to face “imperialist aggression.”
“A gun for every militiaman!” he cried.
If you know your history of communist regimes, you understand what comes next. Maduro’s response to millions of hungry pissed off people, is to arm his die-hard supporters, who will be able to purge the starving masses that dared to cross him. They may not face much resistance, because in 2012 Venezuela banned private firearm ownership.
Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.
Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.
Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.
The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October
Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year and the capital, Caracas, is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.
Do you see how that works? Maduro’s socialist policies turned that country into a crime-ridden hell hole, (and eventually turned their capital city into the most violent in the world). Instead of abandoning their centrally planned economy, which would bring prosperity to all and lower the crime rate, Maduro took away everyone’s guns. Now that his socialist policies are bringing Venezuela’s population to brink of starvation and revolution, he decides to arm his violent and dimwitted loyalists. He has set up the perfect conditions for a genocidal purge of everyone who opposes him.
I’d say that this would be a fine lesson for any would-be socialists in this country, but they don’t seem eager to learn. Neither did many Venezuelans, who elected these control freaks nearly two decades ago. They could have looked at any socialist experiment from the 20th century, and realized that it always leads to starvation and mass murder. Instead they let themselves be conned by what is now the oldest and most deadly political trick in the book.