The United States Treasury Department, recently declared oil sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), according to the New York Times. This is a decision targeting an oil company that produces 90 percent of Venezuela’s currency. While it seems that the sanctions would be another blow to the Venezuelan people, who are already suffering from the effects of extreme poverty and humanitarian violations, it is a useful strategy to force the military to obey the orders of Interim President Juan Guaido instead of current President Nicolas Maduro.
According to Business Insider, “the Trump administration said last week it would impose sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil industry in an attempt to cripple the government of President, and Dictator, Nicolas Maduro, who is facing global pressure to cede power to opposition leader Juan Guaido.” The sanctions serve as a method for the United States and other countries to undermine the legitimacy of President Maduro. Recently, control over the oil industry has been handed over to the military, leading to sanctions serving as a way to push the Venezuelan military towards the side of Guaido.
Thus far, the sanctions proved effective with the New York Times reporting that, “Venezuelan oil exports to the United States, which provide the biggest source of cash for Mr. Maduro’s government, plummeted 40 percent last week.” Additionally, oil is one of the country’s largest sources of revenue. Corruption has led to millions of dollars in oil revenue going missing, with suspicions that government officials have been on the receiving side of this money. Per another article by Business Insider, Venezuela’s inflation rate just hit 830,000 percent in November. The allocation of these funds has been crucial for many citizens struggling to afford basic necessities such as food, water, and urgent medical care.
This week, President Maduro blocked incoming humanitarian aid by placing freight containers across a highway that connects Colombia and Venezuela, as reported by Yahoo! News. The barricade was also surrounded by security forces. These actions reflect the dictatorship of Maduro, seeking to hold onto power rather than concede. His actions were condemned by humanitarian advocates and the international community.
On January 23, Guaido, declared himself the Interim President of the Venezuelan Government, according to CNN. Guaido is a young politician who openly accepts democratic principles and western nations. His decision to declare himself as Interim President was not one that came easily, as he was previously jailed for speaking out against Maduro. The United States and other European nations have publicly expressed support and recognition of Guaido as the new leader.
Overall, the decision of the U.S. and other western countries to place sanctions on Venezuela is necessary and well-timed. The Venezuelan people have reached a breaking point in their oppression, and they want an end to Maduro and his corrupt regime. Maduro is irrational and does not care for the well-being of the Venezuelan people. The sanctions will have a larger effect on the military, already seeking to back Guaido, and will allow his idea of a freer Venezuela to prevail. According to and additional article by Yahoo News!, Guaido yelled out at a recent protest, “You saw the general’s video today…Soldiers of this nation, it is your role to reconstruct Venezuela.”