WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressmen Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) led 17 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that calls on the Biden administration to roll back harmful sanctions on Venezuela, end politicization of U.S. assistance, support internationally mediated negotiations, engage in direct dialogue with the Maduro government while maintaining strong pressure against human rights abuses, and involve moderate opposition actors in discussions — not just hardline opposition elements.
“While the Biden administration recently issued a general license to allow Venezuela to access COVID-related medical goods, the general license does not resolve issues with banking and supply chains,” the letter states. “Sanctions continue to deprive the country of the necessary resources with which to effectively combat the pandemic. To date, less than one percent of the Venezuelan population is fully vaccinated.”
“The Biden Administration must abandon Trump’s failed and destructive policies that only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” said Rep. Grijalva. “We can and must move from a sanctions-driven approach to one of constructive dialogue that brings in opposition actors who want a democratic, political solution, rather than a strategy of overthrow, violence, and collective punishment.”
“Our policy towards Venezuela promotes suffering, not democracy. Venezuelans already face the effects of a political crisis, an economic collapse, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration make a difficult situation even worse,” said Congressman García. “We must take immediate action to lift the sanctions harming vulnerable Venezuelans.”
The letter notes that “the Trump administration’s ill-conceived policies have only exacerbated the crisis and damaged U.S. credibility throughout the region,” and calls on the Biden administration to “act urgently to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people by taking immediate steps to lift the broad and indiscriminate sanctions while supporting internationally mediated dialogue efforts and expanding our diplomatic engagement with a broader range of political actors in Venezuela.”
Specifically, the letter calls on the Biden administration to:
- Immediately lift all U.S. financial and sectoral sanctions that exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. Most urgently, the U.S. should reverse the Trump ban that prohibits Venezuela from exchanging crude oil for diesel, thereby hindering food production and distribution.
- End the politicization of U.S. assistance to Venezuela and work with respected, neutral actors such as United Nations agencies and the International Red Cross to ensure the most effective delivery of aid to the Venezuelans that most need it. Support internationally mediated dialogue efforts in Venezuela led by widely respected actors like the government of Norway and the Vatican.
- Engage in direct dialogue with the Maduro government while maintaining strong diplomatic pressure in opposition to Maduro’s human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions.
- Engage in dialogue with a broader array of political actors in Venezuela, including moderate opposition sectors that are not aligned with Juan Guaidó and moderate chavista sectors that are critical of the Maduro government.
Co-signers of the letter include: Reps. Karen Bass, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Ro Khanna, James P. McGovern, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Bobby L. Rush, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Juan Vargas, Maxine Waters and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
The letter is supported by: Win Without War, American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Religious Leadership Network, MADRE, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies & Demand Progress, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) & Just Foreign Policy (JFP).
Click here to read the full letter.