Monday, May 27, 2024

House Democrats Called on the Biden Administration to Ease Sanctions on Venezuela

A group of House Democrats called on the Biden Administration to ease sanctions on Venezuela, make more aid available, and open the conversation to re-establish diplomatic relations to alleviate the economic crisis there. 

“Given the high costs of the crisis for the Venezuelan people and the hemisphere broadly, we believe the Administration must respond to this opportunity by empowering the Venezuelan people who are seeking to rebuild their country and their future,” the Democrats said in a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday. 

The lead writers of the letter were Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Gregory Meeks of New York, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, and Barbara Lee of California.  

The letter praised steps taken by the Biden administration that resulted in the release of U.S. prisoners in Venezuela and an agreement between President Nicolás Maduro and the country’s opposition to create a social fund to assist Venezuelans.  

But Democrats asked for specific follow-ups and timelines on the fund and clarification on “legal representation” in the country to ensure funds don’t fall into the wrong hands.  

Over the past decade, over 7 million people have fled Venezuela because of the political and economic crisis under Maduro, who has consolidated power over the years. 

“Because we share your view that human rights should be at the center of U.S. foreign policy, we have been deeply troubled by the extensive reporting on the indiscriminate and counterproductive impacts on the Venezuelan people of the secondary and sectoral sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration,” the Democrats said in their letter. 

The Democrats ask what conditions are needed for the U.S. and Venezuela to reopen consulates and embassies. The lawmakers also asked about restoring direct commercial flights from the U.S. to Venezuela, suspended in 2019. 

The Biden administration has said it will lift some sanctions if Maduro takes steps to restore fair elections. President Joe Biden has taken some steps to ease sanctions to encourage dialogue between the government and the opposition, but most sanctions are still in place. 

NBC News