The ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy in Venezuela took a massive step backward with the Biden administration’s decision to ease economic sanctions on the regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro in exchange for promising to hold free and fair elections. Experts and leaders from across the Western Hemisphere, as well as the Venezuelan people, recognize that this decision will lead to less freedom, security, and stability in the region.
In July, friends and allies from across the United States and the Ibero-sphere gathered in Miami for the inaugural Carvalho Dialogue in honor of the late Olavo de Carvalho, the Brazilian teacher and philosopher who warned about the threat posed by the “Foro de São Paulo” (São Paulo Forum) and its stated goal to unite “all Communist and pro-Communist parties and movements of Latin America, and in developing new strategies, more flexible and better camouflaged, for the conquest of power.” We affirmed our commitment against disastrous policies that advance this insidious agenda.
The Biden administration’s decision to provide blanket sanctions relief to the Maduro regime not only jeopardizes the cause for freedom and regional stability and prosperity but creates a dangerous precedent that other regional autocrats could follow. It also deals a tremendous blow to U.S. border security, since the anticipated consequences of further entrenching the criminalized Venezuelan regime will inevitably lead to a surge in illegal immigration, increased drug, arms, and human trafficking, heightened humanitarian abuses, and, regrettably, unnecessary loss of life in Venezuela, throughout the region, and at our southern border.
The easing of U.S. sanctions will not bring about free and fair elections in Venezuela, as the Biden administration suggests. For over two decades, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro have ravaged Venezuela’s democratic institutions, consolidating the regime’s full or partial control of media, political speech, electoral institutions, and civil society. Token measures from the Maduro regime ahead of fraudulent elections will only embolden and empower Venezuela’s dictatorship.
Empowering the criminals responsible for human and drug trafficking, countless atrocities and the deterioration of Venezuela is a grave offense to the Venezuelan and American people.
The people of Venezuela, over 7.7 million of which have fled the country as migrants or refugees, are currently enduring an economic and humanitarian crisis that predates the issuing of U.S. sanctions. This is compounded by the Maduro regime’s severe repression, corruption, censorship, and egregious human rights violations, ranging from murder to torture, unjust arrests, and imprisonments based on political beliefs. Venezuelans are now one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the Americas, nearly tripling in size in the United States from 2010 to 2021.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last 2 years, fleeing the economic and humanitarian crisis orchestrated by Maduro. Further, Venezuela has become a hub for human trafficking to the U.S. from China, Africa, and the Middle East and a global drug trafficking hub in alliance with Mexican and Colombian transnational criminal organizations.
The easing of U.S, sanctions also empowers the numerous anti-democratic, hostile regimes and illicit actors around the world that the Maduro regime has embraced, such as Iran, Russia, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority; as well as U.S. designated foreign terrorist organizations Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Some of these narco-terrorist groups, and others, have coopted Venezuela’s oil, gas, and gold industries.
While the people of Venezuela suffer, Maduro and his associates have enriched themselves by trafficking drugs throughout Latin America and into the United States and Europe, and he and other enemies of the United States are exploiting the crisis at our southern border by weaponizing migration into Mexico and through the Darien Gap to infiltrate the U.S. and create instability throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Collaborating with a tyrannical despot like Nicolas Maduro to legitimize his cruel regime is not only appalling, but a betrayal of the worst kind, to the Venezuelan people but also to our national security. President Biden should not only be enforcing current sanctions on the Venezuelan regime but strengthening and expanding them until the regime makes verifiable democratic reforms that enable the political opposition to fairly compete in national elections. Such reforms should also include cutting off the support the Maduro regime receives from China, Russia, and Iran.
Enhancing Latin American security and stability is in the interest of the region and critical for U.S. national security. The solution is not in accommodating the arrivals of Venezuelans fleeing the oppressive Maduro regime, but in helping them free themselves of a genocidal regime after years of struggle to bring freedom back to their country.
The voices of the Carvalho Dialogue remain committed to working alongside the freedom-loving Venezuelan people to recover the sovereignty of their country so they can have a real opportunity at freedom, to make Venezuela, once again, a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Ernesto Araújo – Brasilia, Brazil
Rodrigo Arenas – Guatemala City, Guatemala
James Carafano – Washington, DC, United States
Carlos Augusto Chacón Monsalve – Bogotá, Colombia
Sergio de la Peña – United States
Carlos Díaz-Rosillo – Miami, FL, United States
Paul du Quenoy – Palm Beach, FL, United States
Mariano Federici – Miami, FL, United States
Paulo Figueiredo – Miami, FL, United States
Melissa Ford – Austin, TX, United States
Jorge Andrés Galicia Rodríguez – Miami, FL, United States
Alice Galván López – Mexico City, Mexico
Mike González – Washington, DC, United States
Simon Hankinson – Washington, DC, United States
Phillip Linderman – Washington, DC, United States
F. Humberto López – Mexico City, Mexico
Andrew Lu – Assumption, Paraguay
Andres Martínez-Fernández – Washington, DC, United States
Mark Morgan – Washington, DC, United States
Max Primorac – Washington, DC, United States
Josh Treviño – Austin, TX, United States
Adriana Tudela Gutiérrez – Lima, Peru
Matthew Tyrmand – Miami, FL, United States