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What are Trump’s real reasons for sanctions against Venezuela?

This week, the U.S. announced it will impose sanctions directly on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions mean Maduro’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen and people from the U.S. are prohibited from dealing with the head of state and are part of a widening of sanctions against Venezuela. Additionally, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear his wish for ‘regime change,’ and last week the CIA’s chief admitted they were working in this direction.

These are not the Trump administration’s first attempt to hit the Venezuelan government using sanctions. In February, the Treasury Department also introduced sanctions on the Venezuelan Vice President and in July they extended existing economic sanctions against the country.

They sit alongside the US Executive Order which deems the situation in Venezuela as “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”, and provides the justification for using the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose sanctions.

Worse may be yet to come, as the Trump administration threatens to impose wider economic sanctions on the country, which are likely to make matters worse in a country already struggling to deal with the global collapse in oil prices.

Members of the US Congress have argued that unilateral economic sanctions “could deepen the country’s economic and political crisis and undermine any movements toward dialogue and negotiations.”

Indeed, recent polling in Venezuela show that US economic sanctions are not backed by supporters of either the Government or the opposition.

So what then are the real reasons behind Trump’s desire for more and more sanctions on Venezuela?

For evidence of the ideological motivation behind Trump’s sanctions, and how they link into the desire to restate US control of Latin America, we need look no further than Nicaragua, where allegations of problems in the electoral system have been used to justify the Nica Act (Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act), which seeks to impose conditions on loans from multilateral organisations to the country’s government that was recently re-elected by a landslide.

Furthermore, Trump’s harsh – and dubiously legal or legitimate actions against the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua stand in sharp contrast to his silence on the many problems experienced by citizens of countries in the region with a more US-friendly neo-liberal agenda such as Honduras.

There can be little doubt that the sanctions are driven more by opposition to the international outlook of governments such as those in Venezuela and Nicaragua, than any genuine concern for the citizens of those countries. In Venezuela of course, the issue of its massive oil reserves should never be forgotten.

Instead of yet more disastrous US attempts at regime change in Venezuela, which as the US writer Mark Weisbrot has said have had a “hideous history in the Americas” , international efforts should focus on constructive engagement and supporting a dialogue process as a peaceful way forward to resolve the country’s difficulties.

  • Susan Grey is an Executive Committee member of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – you can follow them on Twitter here and Facebook here. Their recent statement can be read here.


  1. Hazel Malcolm-Walker says:

    why are the Americans involved in Venezuala?
    Very simple – it’s all about oil!

  2. Bazza says:

    Yes US capital wants their oil.
    CIA probably funding Right Wing Neo-Liberal Opposition.
    US interfering from a US President who lost the popular vote by 3m!
    If Right in Venezuala get power will hammer the poor!
    But need to call for a peaceful resolution and an end to violence on all sides.

  3. Tony says:

    We have been here many times before.

    Milosevic was hated not for his brutality, as we were told, but because he was not supportive of western interests.

    Angela Smith MP has demanded Corbyn speak out on this although no such demands were made by her in respect of Blair.

    1. JohnP says:

      Of course Global capitalism loves a blood-soaked tyrant, and always has , as long as that tyrant is safeguarding its interests. Thatcher and Reagan et al had no problem with Pinochet’s murderous regime – or the Argentinian Junta, or the Brazilian Junta, and on it goes.

      However that mustn’t be allowed to obscure major sections of the Left’s corresponding shameful political and moral blindness to the crimes of other tyrants who have cynically draped themselves in the spurious cloak of “anti imperialism” – whilst simultaneously running murderously repressive regimes at home. Milosevic is a case in point. He was not any sort of “defender of the socialised economy of Yugoslavia”, but a murderous opportunist neo fascist tyrant – organiser of death squads which rampaged across Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in a frenzy of “ethnic cleansing” which cost tens of thousands of innocent lives. Likewise Gaddafi, and the sectarian Baathist dictatorships of Iraq and Syria, and the theocratic tyranny of Iran.

      Giving a “free pass” to vicious tyrannies which happen to fit within a grossly simplistic soviet era based geopolitical analysis , as being part of a mythical “anti (US) imperialism Axis of Resistance” , is EXACTLY the same sort of moral bankruptcy as that exhibited by the Western Media over Venezuela.

      1. Tony says:

        I have never had any illusions about Milosevic or any of the others you have listed.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Gaddafi was quite a good guy JohnP. A bit different from the others you’ve listed don’t you think?

          1. JohnP says:

            Gaddafi was an oppressive dictator of a vicious police state ,and a serial child raping mercurial lunatic for heavens sakes, Karl. Have you tried to read his “Green Book” drivel ?

            Just because he chucked some cash and guns at some liberation movements does not make him “progressive ” .
            He played Western Lefties like a fiddle with his superficial, and inconsistent “anti imperialist ” US posturing, whilst he and his clan ran Libya in such a way , constantly playing regions and tribes off against each other , so as to utterly prevent the emergence of any “civil society” that on his overthrow utter warlordist chaos has resulted.

            But he did hate Islamic fundamentalists , and he did undoubtedly use some of his huge oil revenues to provide free education and healthcare, and major water supply infrastructure . But remember the Gaddafi clan (as with the Assad clan in Syria) were well on the way to a privatised neoliberal transformation of the state assets at the time of the uprising.

            Some positive features funded by unlimited oil wealth accruing to his state treasury, and poking the USA in the eye with a bit of sporadic liberation funding does not make Gaddafi and his vicious, murderous, dictatorship “progressive” though Karl. If so, the crazed North Korean hereditary oligarchy is deeply “progressive”.

          2. C MacMackin says:

            Well said John. Indeed, it’s not just western leftist who are guilty of this, but many of the Pink Tide governments, including Chavez himself. I believe he referred to Gaddafi as a “friend”. Not one of his finest moments.

          3. C MacMackin says:

            Well said John. Indeed, it’s not just western leftist who are guilty of this, but many of the Pink Tide governments, including Chavez himself. I believe he referred to Gaddafi as a “friend”. Not one of his finest moments. The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

        2. JohnP says:

          It was you who seemed to suggested Milosevic had had an unfair press from the Western media, Tony. Maybe you should have chosen someone a bit less deeply dodgy as an example.

      2. Steven Johnston says:

        Well said John!

        What is this anti-imperalist rubbish the left always talks about. Surely every nation would be imperalist if it could get away with it?
        As for a government with an anti-imperalist stance, fine, but that doesn’t put food on the plates of the masses.

        1. JohnP says:

          Has the school holidays left you with too much time on your hands, to bother us with your 5th form Young Tory drivel, Steven ? Get on your bike into the fresh air,away from your computer , and maybe meet some girls (or boys) and I’m sure you’ll feel much better.

          1. Steven Johnston says:

            On your bike..are you channelling Norman Tebbit?

  4. Steven Johnston says:

    Abortion is completely illegal in Nicaragua. Surely this must have been the last straw for the left? After nearly 40 years it’s dirt poor and the working conditions are awful there. What is there to praise in a country like Nicaragua?

  5. Francisco Dominguez says:

    Mr Johnston’s berating the Left for being anti-imperialist is pretty revealing. The US DOES want to have control over Venezuela’s oil, the biggest in the world, but in order to obtain it is seeking to remove the democratically elected government of that nation.
    Mr Johnston I take it you support US efforts at regime change in Venezuela and would probably support US military invasion against that country, would you?

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      Nay, nay and thrice nay!

      But given that Hitler was anti-American, if he was alive today (he’d be very old) but if he was and fighting against the Americans, presumably he would/would not be a friend of the left?

  6. Francisco Dominguez says:

    Mr Johnston,
    After Trump’s military threats against Venezuela, you may be able to understand why the Left is anti-imperialist. Any comment?

      1. Francisco Dominguez says:

        This is a website not an argument of yours. The issue is why the Left is anti-imperialist? I think I understand why you are avoiding answering the question.

  7. Steven Johnston says:

    What is it about the left and their love of macho, South American “hard-men” leaders?
    The country is descending into chaos, the population is starving and there is hyper-inflation, but still they hide behind the fig-leaf of anti-imperialism. Why???? The workers in Venezuela can’t eat that.

    1. Francisco Dominguez says:

      We, the Left, defended and still defend, democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. We supported president Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. And still do. I take it this “macho” is a failed attempt to deflect the issue.
      Chile under Allende was also subjected to a horrible economic war and massive destabilisation by imperialis, like Venezuela is today.
      Trump’s military threat against Venezuela is because of its oil and that convinces us in the Left that it is right to be anti-imperialist. So I repeat my point, since you do not seem to be anti-imperialist, I take it you support US military action against Venezuela, do you?

      1. JohnP says:

        Steven Johnson is most likely a 15 year old Young Tory Troll, Francisco. Don’t waste your time responding to his vapid Daily Mail ideology-filled posts. It just encourages him.

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