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The Biden administration has announced that it will ease sanctions on the two most damaging tyrannies in Latin America, the Cuban and Venezuelan. Of course, the Administration presents this decision as steps to improve the situation of the citizens of those countries, but the reality is that the lifting of sanctions only benefits the tyrants in power.
Regarding Venezuela, the Administration announced that it will ease some sanctions in order to supposedly promote dialogue between Nicolás Maduro and the opposition led by Juan Guaidó. On account of that decision, now the US oil company Chevron will be able to negotiate with the Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA.
Although the American government has not said anything about this, a few days ago the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador, assured after a visit to Cuba that the United States reached an agreement with Maduro’s regime to buy one million barrels per day of Venezuelan crude oil. Of course, if the Mexican president’s statements are true, we will soon see the lifting of more sanctions imposed on the tyranny responsible for the second largest exodus in the world.
On Cuba, the Biden administration reestablishes visa service at the Embassy in Havana, this after many officials were withdrawn due to allegations of “Havana Syndrome.” Americans will also be able to go to Cuba in groups. Commercial and charter flights to the island will be authorized, even to cities other than Havana, and the $1,000-per-quarter limit on family remittances is lifted.
Cubans are not asking for leftovers, the thousands of political prisoners held hostage by the Castro dictatorship did not put their lives at risk for a few more dollars more from a remittance, the message is clear: they want freedom. And of course, removing sanctions and allowing the regime to get more money to, among other things, repress the people more forcefully, is no approach to freedom.
Perhaps most Americans don’t know this, but there are thousands of political prisoners in Cuba, many of them children, minors whose sin was to step out and demand freedom. That is the regime that the Biden administration has decided to ease sanctions against and also to legitimize.
With this action, the current administration gives strength to the Castro-driven idea that Cuba is in bad shape because of the “blockade.” It must be clarified that there is no blockade and Cuba can trade freely with any other country. But, in addition, the United States exports around $277 million worth of merchandise to Cuba every year, and despite the embargo, this country admits certain exceptions and some companies can export goods such as food, medicines and agricultural inputs to the island. It is a complete mistake for the U.S. government to claim that easing these sanctions will help improve the lives of Cubans; Cubans are not suffering because of the United States, but because of a communist regime that has been in power for decades.
The Venezuelan situation poses the same problem. More than 6 million Venezuelans have fled the socialism that afflicts that country, the solution of course is not to give more oxygen to the tyranny that has imposed that regime of misery. Moreover, in exchange for nothing, because the Chavista tyranny has even destroyed the oil industry and there is no possibility that Venezuela — not even in the mid term — will be able to replace the oil supply that came from Russia.
Freeing the regimes in the region from sanctions does not help the citizens of those countries, it pushes them away from freedom. But the negative consequences are not only for a Latin America that today seems to be devastated by socialism, but also for the United States. Helping the socialists to come to power or stay there only increases the migratory crisis that this country is experiencing on its southern border.
On the other hand, we are not talking about romantic socialists who simply do not understand economics, let’s remember that the Department of Justice accused Nicolás Maduro, the tyrant of Venezuela, of being the leader of the Cartel de Los Soles. Behind those tyrants to whom we are reaching out today, there are international drug trafficking and crime networks. More serious than allowing the neighborhood to be filled with criminals is to help them in that purpose by removing obstacles.
One last subject worth reflecting on is the slap in the face that these decisions represent for the millions of Hispanic exiles living in the United States; if the Democratic Party was already struggling badly enough with Hispanics, this could be the cherry on top.
Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editor-in-chief of El American. Economist. Podcaster. Political and economic analysis of America. Colombian exile in the United States // Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editora en jefe de El American. Economista. Podcaster. Análisis político y económico de América. Colombiana exiliada en EE. UU.