WASHINGTON – Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) led 17 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Joe Biden that calls on the Biden administration to ease punishing and counterproductive economic sanctions on the people of Venezuela and continue constructive engagement and diplomacy with the Venezuelan government.
Under the Trump administration, increased sanctions and isolation policies exacerbated the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis. Since then, constructive engagement on behalf of the Biden administration has yielded positive results including the release of two U.S. citizens, Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Fernandez, from imprisonment.
The Members of Congress outline in their letter the devastating impact U.S. sanctions have had on the Venezuelan people and echo calls by key Venezuelan opposition figures to end them:
“The suffering of the Venezuelan people is a tragedy. Though this tragedy is the result of various factors, numerous studies have shown that U.S. sanctions have been one of the leading causes. And these impacts are not borne equally: broad-based sanctions are widely known to disproportionately harm women and girls, as well as other vulnerable populations including people with disabilities or chronic diseases and Indigenous populations.”
“Key Venezuelan opposition figures have also spoken out against U.S. sanctions. In a recent interview, leading opposition politician and two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski acknowledged the failure of the sanctions strategy. ‘It didn’t give the result we wanted,’ Capriles declared. ‘The greatest beneficiary of the sanctions against Venezuela was Putin.’ Expressing his support for your administration’s engagement with the Maduro government, and advocating for the lifting of broad sanctions, Capriles added, ‘The mere fact that the meeting took place, if that can open doors that benefit Venezuelans, and therefore benefit the country, then that must be seen positively… Any action that results in improvements in the living conditions of Venezuelans is good.’”
“It is clear that broad sanctions have failed to achieve their aims. In light of this, and the dire human costs incurred in the process, we urge you to lift all U.S. financial and sectoral sanctions that exacerbate the humanitarian situation. The easing of sanctions would mark a critical step forward in the process of engagement and diplomacy that your administration has initiated and could contribute to the resolution of the political crisis and improve the wellbeing of the Venezuelan people. We are grateful for the steps that you have already taken to advance dialogue with the Venezuelan government. Now, we urge you to see them through.”
Click here to read the full letter.
Co-signers of the letter include: Reps. Grijalva, García, Jan Schakowsky, Ayanna Pressley, Juan Vargas, Ilhan Omar, Jim McGovern, Jared Huffman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Pramila Jayapal, Earl Blumenauer, Hank Johnson, Donald Payne, Rashida Tlaib, Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
In August of last year, Reps. Grijalva and García were joined by 17 House colleagueswho wrote to Secretary Blinken advocating for dialogue with the Maduro government in order to advance a peaceful resolution to Venezuela’s political crisis, and the easing of broad economic sanctions that are both politically counterproductive and detrimental to the wellbeing of Venezuelans.