Oil for Venezuela proposes a redesign of US sanctions regime on Venezuela

Oil For Venezuela, a non-profit organization, led by the Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez, published this Monday, October 5th, its most recent paper, titled: «The United States sanctions on Venezuela: alternatives to maximum pressure,» a document that seeks to propose ideas to reformulate Washington’s policies toward Caracas, and thus prevent the country’s humanitarian crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

Oil For Venezuela’s work is based on two premises: first, economic sanctions must be flexible enough to accommodate genuine and viable humanitarian exceptions. This will require creating space and supporting negotiations around humanitarian agreements involving the two administrations that dispute political control. Second, US policy must be reformulated in a way that creates the right incentives for a transition to democracy.

«Sanctions policy towards Venezuela needs a radical redesign. It is evident that the current approach has not generated the conditions that can lead to the recovery of democracy, while there is ample evidence that these measures are having collateral effects on the Venezuelan population,» stressed Rodríguez.

One of the critical approaches made by the Oil For Venezuela team is that sanctions should be designed «as part of a broader strategy that aims to redemocratize Venezuela, and not as an end in themselves.» In this sense, the document proposes designing a policy that can induce electoral reforms, such as the appointment of independent electoral authorities and the acceptance of international observers to supervise the next elections.

«The lifting of some sanctions could be used as an incentive to encourage political actors in Venezuela to negotiate a path towards free elections. If it is possible to achieve points of understanding between the country’s political actors that, together with the approval of humanitarian exceptions, can prevent the country from sinking into a spiral that ends in a humanitarian catastrophe of proportions we have never seen on the continent», explained Francisco Rodríguez.

The approval of humanitarian exceptions is, according to Rodríguez, urgent. «We must find direct ways to increase humanitarian assistance that can be deployed effectively in the country in the short term.» To this end, Oil for Venezuela proposes that the United States government extend its assistance to organizations that already have a strong network in the country, such as the Red Cross, the Pan American Health Organization, and Caritas.


Another of the document’s proposals is for Washington to revoke redundant governmental and financial sanctions and issue an order to protect the Republic’s assets. «Executive Order 13808 (financial sanctions) and 13884 (government sanctions) are essentially redundant. This is because they restrict the Guaidó administration (which is the only one that can issue debt or control funds in the United States) and prevent it from carrying out transactions, the most relevant being those involving PDVSA, which is -in turn- sanctioned under Executive Order 13850. The lifting of government and financial sanctions offers a basis for negotiation with the administration of Nicolás Maduro,» the paper reads. However, an asset protection order must be issued first to guarantee that the Republic’s companies protected by Executive Order 13884 – such as CITGO – can remain under the nation’s control. «The assets that the Republic has will play a critical role in the recovery process of the Venezuelan economy. That is why any modification to the sanctions regime must come with a protection order, which can allow planning economic policies as soon as the re-democratization of Venezuela is achieved,» concluded Rodríguez.

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