U.S. Sanctions Are Aimed at Venezuela’s Oil. Its Citizens May Suffer First.

Venezuela’s oil company has found ways to weather sanctions aimed at ousting President Nicolás Maduro. How ordinary people will survive them is a different question.

Comments: 72

  1. United Sanctions on Maduro's Venezuela are understood as punishment and as furthering Maduro's fall. But, simultaneously, this willgive rise to a catastrophic result in hunger and suffering of the very people trying to survive the regime. How about calling all neighboring nations, in a diplomatic effort to find solutions diplomatically, and avoid a military confrontation? This would have to include the 'military' which, being part of the people, ought to use their morals to side with them...and send Maduro and his ilk packing.

  2. A non-starter. Maduro only has the support of the military because he allows it to thrive in the black market. Morals? What morals?

  3. @manfred marcus The diplomatic approach would be great if only Maduro wanted to step-down. If Maduro would step-down he would most likely be killed or sought after for human right violations. For him the only thing that sounds sensible is to continue as president. The same theory of "its me or the country" could apply to other tyrannical dictators such as Kim Jong Un or Hitler. Both leaders would rather sacrifice there country than themselves. So the only possibility of any change even occurring is with some sort of armed rebellion. Which could only work with the help of a foreign government such as the United States. But the fact of the matter is Maduro will stay in power because he is backed by Russia. The United States does not want to go to war with Russia so the only thing that the government could do is sanction Venezuela. Leading us the situation that we are today...a stalemate. The situation is a lot more complicated than the people sending Maduro packing.

  4. @Mateo Landry If the military (excepting the official higher ups!) could be convinced they belong to the people, Maduro could be deposed rather quickly. It's like Trump, however unhinged and bold in his stupid moves, could fall as soon as the G.O.P. puts country before party, and McConnell's Senate the guts to send him packing.

  5. Once Maduro is forced out and Juan Guaidó is installed over a ruined country from which everyone who can afford it has left, we’ll see how wonderful this choice is. And wonderful for whom.

  6. @John Brews ✅✅ Unfortunately for the people of Venezuela, the current group of "experts" around Trump have made it clear why they want regime change in Caracas - control over Venezuela's oil. Bolton's brazenly open statement about that goal will taint any new government in Venezuela, allowing Maduro and his allies to label them as Washington's stooges. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  7. And the refugees from Venezuela who appear at our border will be called murderers and drug dealers. Their children will be torn from their arms and put in cages.

  8. Maduro is undermining the economy, oppressing the people of Venezuela, and vilifying the U.S. government so that he can stay in power. But the track record of overt and covert US interventions in the affairs of other nations shows that we are sure to make things worse, both for the Venezuelan people, for our own citizens, and for U.S. stature in the world. Consider these debacles: ---The 1953 CIA-sponsored coup in Iran resulting in deposing their popular Prime Minister and replacing him with the rapacious Shah of Iran who restored US oil interests, bought US arms to repress his own people, and eventually brought on the rise of the Ayatollahs who now bedevil the US and the Middle East. ---The 1954 Guatemalan coup by the CIA that removed a popularly elected President Arbenz and turned Guatemala into what some now call "the murder capital of the world." --The 1970's CIA interventions in Chile that ended with the assassination of President Salvador Allende and the beginning of the brutal 25-year reign of Augusto Pinochet. --The War in Vietnam, with 58,000 American soldiers, an entire country laid waste, and millions of Vietnamese killed. Does anyone think that the machinations of the brilliant U.S. foreign affairs team of Donald Trump, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo are going to do any less damage with their threats and interventions in the affairs of Venezuela ?

  9. @SA For more on the CIA's overthrow of Iran's democratically elected government in 1953, listen to NPR's Throughline program, "How the CIA Overthrew Iran's Democracy in 4 Days."

  10. This experiment in Venezuela must end. Maduro held a sham election, which makes Guaido the constitutional president. The people hate Maduro. We will not send money or do business with this stubborn criminal regime. There is bipartisan agreement that we must increase the pressure on Maduro to resign, and end this quickly. Whether his people starve, is up to him.

  11. I wonder what Hillary Clinton would do. Maybe “top ranking “ Democrats can tell us their much better plan loudly and often. Lower ranking Ocasio-Cortez can also share her plan. But I won’t hold my breath. Democrats always have secret plans. For example, Pelosi said that she favored more “physical barriers” along the southern border, just not walls or fences. But more drones, cameras, and border guards, which are also favored by Trump, are not physical barriers, but rather supplement them. Why won’t Pelosi and Schumer explain exactly what Democrats propose for Venezuela and for physical border security?

  12. @Richard Winchester If you wonder what Hillary Clinton would do, you should have put her in the White House in charge of government as our President and find out.

  13. @Richard Winchester Advice to republicans: try following what specialists say is the right course to do things. Pay head to science. Don't just allow your Twitter in chief, Individual 1, create policy out of a whim.

  14. @Richard Winchester Hillary Clinton would have understood tariffs and trade and not try to tank farmers across the US. Hillary would not have pulled thousands of children from their parents. Hillary would not be playing footsie with Putin and other dictators. Hillary would not be a public disgrace as President for the World to watch. Hillary would have known what to do with Venezuela since she is intelligent unlike the con man squatting in the White House that Republicans thought was a good business man.

  15. Hmmmm. Trump is pushing Venezuela away from the U.S. and closer to Russia. Russia holds the Venezuelan national oil company as collateral against debt owed to the them by Venezuela. Russia might be able to take over Venezuelan oil as a result of Trump's sanctions. Trump never met a dictator he didn't love (even Kim the communist), so it was a little strange to see him attack Maduro, but maybe Trump has to sacrifice Maduro to the needs of Putin? All of you that think that any of this will help the people of Venezuela have to realize that it was the collapse in oil prices that caused the collapse of the economy, and that attacking Venezuela's economy will both hurt the people you are trying to help and lend more evidence to Maduro's accusations that the collapse was engineered by the U.S. and global corporations. The history of U.S. led regime change is littered with unintended consequences, including millions of dead people (half a million in Iraq alone). The last time we changed a regime without making things worse was WWII. Democracy, by definition, comes from within. It cannot be imposed by force or other destructive means. I know what I don't know about Venezuela, but I have researched U.S. regime change for decades, and it is bad for nations and their citizens. If you want to help Venezuelans, air-drop basic necessities on towns and villages, not bombs, military supplies, or sanctions.

  16. This is one regime that deserves to be changed. And you can’t air drop supplies without violating Venezuelan sovereign airspace.

  17. “Mr. Trump said the oil sanctions were meant to punish Mr. Maduro for human rights violations and force him to cede power to Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader whom the United States has recognized as the rightful Venezuelan president.” This is really bizarre. The US is supporting the dictator in Saudi Arabia, in their genocide in Yemen where over 20 million are starving and may soon die in the worlds worst humanitarian disaster. The US provides aid to 73 percent of the worlds dictators. In Venezuela the US along with its corporate oligarchs has economically boycotted Venuzela, because they want to privatize their oil and resources. They do not care about the people. Guaido is a far right-winger in the mold of Trump/Rubio. Guaido has not been elected. Justifying Guaido means you do not believe in the rule of law. In the 2018 Venezuelan election the opposition asked the UN to not send election observers. The opposition knew they would lose, thus went to their second plan of saying it was rigged. Of course all the corporate media has has followed the right wing talking points of Trump/Guaido. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-un-idUSKCN1GO2J0

  18. Guaido most certainly has been elected. I’m not going to waste my typing to someone clearly so ignorant of the facts, but look yo the 2016 elections, the packing of the courts, the “constituent assembly” and what the Venezuelan constitution says.

  19. @Mike I’ve looked at all of those things and I disagree. Maduro was elected in a free and fair election which the opposition successfully demanded that Madura call early. The opposition split and half boycotted because their preferred candidate, far-right oligarch Leopoldo Lopez, was barred from running as a result of his involvement in fomenting murderous political violence intended to destabilize a democratically elected government and sabotage the economy. The boycott reduced turnout but Maduro won a transparent election with 65% of the vote and the same share of the total electorate as is typical of US Presidents. Guaido was the 4th ranking deputy from Lopez’s party in the farcical all-opposition rump of the National Assembly that continued to meet after its powers were legally taken over by the more recently elected Constituent Assembly. The Constitution does not permit Guaido’s self-appointment as is clear to anyone who reads it. 80% of Venezuelans did not even know who he was at the beginning of January. His US-orchestrated stunt is nothing more than a fig leaf for a coup attempt that so far appears to have failed.

  20. Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez are not extreme right. Their party Voluntad Popular “Popular Will” is a member of the International Socialist (international union of socialist parties). Trump’s support does not make Guaido “extreme right”. Trump supports Guaido because Guaido is the opposition leader to a dictator. Try to be informed before issuing a strong opinion. Wikipedia is not a fantastic source of information but for those who know nothing it can be a start. Look up “Popular Will”. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_Will

  21. If I were Venezuelan I would be very concerned that the American President that they think is helping them get rid of Maduro refuses to share publicly his conversations with Putin the Russian boss that is supporting Maduro.

  22. The biggest problem with Trump suddenly wanting to stand up to a authoritarian leader and supposedly defending human rights and democracy is that his security advisor, Mr. Bolton, couldn't help himself blurting out the real reason: Venezuela's oil. Bolton made it clear that one, likely the key interest of the current government is to have its buddies in the oil business have control over the Venezuelan oil fields. So, while Mr. Tillerson, formerly of Exxon, may have had a public falling out with Trump, the ties that bind are deep and very much intact. Mr. Bolton's remark in particular gave Maduro his best and biggest argument against any giving way and allow fair and free elections in Venezuela.

  23. If you sabotage a country that is not an equal the way Venezuela has been since Chavez took office eventually you will create disarray and then blame socialism as you rob it of its chief economic resource. And then you freeze the way they can finance themselves and send "help' to the border. Good God the evil of all of this. Oh, I forgot it's for the sake of democracy not their heavy crude that the US refineries need to mix with Texas light to produce gasoline.

  24. @michael roloff Are you absolutely kidding? The Chavez and Maduro regimes have nationalized every private business and industry under the sun and then promptly run every single one of them into the ground. The evil is theirs. Nobody did this to them. Now they are bartering and selling off every asset they can to try and steal what little is left. People like you are so clueless it's infuriating.

  25. @Mike The oil industry was nationalized in 1976, long before Chávez. The bulk of Venezuelan business are privately owned, and there are suspicions of sabotage against the regime performed by them. Many of the large media outlets are privately owned and brazenly advocates a tangible overthrew of the democratically elected president (imagine something like that in the US).

  26. So the Trump Administration wants to impose more economic sanctions on Venezuela for its human rights violations at precisely the same time it wants to ease economic sanctions on Russia? Why the double standard? It has a logic that only a Trumpublican can follow.

  27. This administration seems so fixated on Venezuela that I would not be surprised if it took us to war there. Such a war was foreseen in the movie "Avatar" where it was explained the United States picked off oil-producing countries throughout the twenty-first and twenty-second centuries.

  28. “The rich will not stop getting richer, it’s the workers who will shoulder the cost of these measures.” The US has turned to the equivalent of an economic nuclear weapon as its chief weapon against the Maduro regime. The oil union leader quoted above poses an important question, why are the wealthiest Venezuelans safe and secure while the masses continue to suffer? Sanctions can be targeted toward industries and individuals as we've seen often enough to understand as an effective means to accomplish specific ends. Much of the wealth and many of the wealthy have fled the country leaving the most vulnerable to bear the burdens of Maduro's incompetence and apparent criminality. Russia has now entered the fray reminding us of the near disaster of their Cuban misadventure. We are also reminded the impetus for Pearl Harbor was economic and based in denying Japan access to US steel. Students of history might note that Trump is no Roosevelt or Kennedy. He is politically inept and diplomatically incoherent and unmanned. It is up to Congress (again) to intervene before we find ourselves in another uncontainable conflict.

  29. A yes, capitalists are the ones who make the people suffer always, even when they cast blame on socialism.

  30. @Corbin Tell this to Ukrainians who died in Stalin’s famine, Chinese starved by Mao and Cambodians killed by Pol Pot.

  31. Trump doesn't care about human rights, as we all saw with the way he directed his Administration to handle the border situation with migrant families. The ONLY thing he cares about is money and his skin!! Whenever an investigation against him is heating up, he tries to divert, like he did with his Syria declaration, and now with his actions in Venezuela.

  32. I am Venezuelan, its citizens are already starving and dying of treatable illnesses. The government took over food and drug imports and uses that as a deterrent against opposition. It is highly naive to think sanctions will hurt the Venezuelan people, allowing a drug trafficking government to bully its population around in the way old Hacienda countries did is criminal. Don't be an useful idiot. Russia and China have recolonized Venezuela and rule it from behind the scenes. To talk about the US as the Imperial oppressor is to really make an effort to ignore the fact that the history and culture of Venezuela has been closely tied to the US for over 100 years and now being overtaken and hijacked by powers from far away in their own quest for hegemony and that has a cost both for Venezuelans and the US. No invasion, but full Diplomatic pressure are required. We cannot automatically oppose everything Trump proposes. In this case it is in the mutual interest of both nations to have the PSUV dictatorship end.

  33. We bombed hundreds of innocent poor people to death in Panama in 1989 because the CIA had a drug-fueled dispute with President Noriega. Then the next Bush in line killed thousands of civilians in the Shock and Awe operation and still didn't get Saddam Hussein who had threatened to kill his father (the assassin of the Panamanians) And of course that lit the conflagration that has destroyed the lives of millions in the Middle East. Old men send young men off to die in war. Maybe they should instead convene for a friendly game of Russian Roulette.

  34. "U.S. Sanctions Are Aimed at Venezuela’s Oil. Its Citizens May Suffer First." Seriously ? The perfect leftist propagandists, these authors revert to Orwell's famous Ministry of Truth approach and turn white to black, up to down, and right to wrong. While the authors, and their president, were sleeping , the Venezuelan people were already suffering. Now that someone is actually doing something meaningful about the situation, they rouse from their slumber and seek to blame the current administration for causing the Venezuelans to suffer ? If this weren't so blatantly dishonest it would be funny. The sanctions are not aimed at the oil business, they are aimed at Maduro - and rightly so. His only source of revenue is oil and so, the oil revenues get cut off. He was already diverting all the money away from his people so the sanctions won't even be felt by the population.

  35. If the Trump regime is genuinely determined to remedy a nation's distress and lack of democracy, why not turn its attention to Honduras? After all, it's the source of most of the caravan migration. Nearly two-thirds of Hondurans live in poverty, according to the World Bank. In rural areas, one in every five Hondurans lives in extreme poverty. Most Hondurans are employed in the informal economy, and per capita income averages $120 per month. Honduras has "the highest levels of economic inequality" in Latin America, according to the World Bank. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said in August that the situation creates a system that only benefits an elite minority with close ties to the highest political and economic levels. President Juan Hernandez was re-elected in November of 2017 in an election marred by irregularities. Protests against the fraud were met with extreme state violence. Yet, no American finger wagging, let alone sanctions. The Trump script for Venezuela will, as the story suggest, hurt the poor most and in no way guarantees a democratic outcome.

  36. @Ricardo Chavira.. interesting. but there is no money to be made in Honduras

  37. How this will play out no one knows. Who will be the victims of our desire for regime change? The poor people of Venezuela. Mnuchin, Bolton, Abrams and Pompeo will continue to live their lives free of want, while the poor Venezuelans suffer the indignity. Champions of freedom? We will get to see.

  38. I invite the New York Times and the world to look at the parallels between what is happening in Venezuela and what has been happening and continues to happen in Zimbabwe.

  39. @Sarah.... interesting. but there's no money to be made in Zimbabwe.

  40. Well isn’t the whole point of the sanctions to make the people suffer, to give them sufficient motivation to carry out what the US wants, the elimination of the regime it doesn’t like and its replacement with a new regime more attuned to American interests? Same in Iraq in the 90’s when our sanctions resulted in death of many thousands of children, which was okay, or “worth it”, as Madeline Albright admitted to Lesley Stahl. “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.” May 12, 1996. Same thing in Iran right now, where the sanctions imposed unilaterally by the US are supposed to help topple the mullahs and install a new leadership which won’t be as hostile to Israel, our great ally. It’s sad.

  41. @FB Are you saying that the civilized world should do nothing in the face of the regimes that gas their people (Iraq), stifle freedom and human rights (Iran), starve children and assassinate political opponents (Venezuela)? Why is everybody insisting on a punishment for Saudi Arabia for the murder of a single journalist but not to countries like Venezuela where people are dying daily? I assume you don’t want a military intervention, so what’s your solution? Pretend that nothing is happening? Wait till the country collapses in the civil war and sends millions fleeing across the borders? Incidentally, it is not just the US but the EU as well that insists Maduro steps down.

  42. It'll only continue as long as the corrupt military chiefs keep getting their 'cut'; once that stops, Maduro will be gone. Food and other aid is already waiting at the border - if the military won't let it in, the people need to find a way to get themselves to the aid. Barring that, another Berlin 'air-lift'.

  43. Isn't the point of sanctions to hurt people enough that they'll acquiesce in foreign imposition of either a U.S -compliant military dictatorship or a U.S.-compliant civilian government that wasn't actually elected by anyone?

  44. Its unfortunate this article doesn't mention that the dictators military is blocking international/US aid to the Venezuelan people.

  45. Yes, it would be nice if the Maduro regime collapsed without military action from the U.S. But that is unlikely to happen without further punishing to Venezuelan people. Neither Maduro nor his military are going to change their minds until they see the U.S. Marines offshore preparing to invade. That is the only way it is going to happen. And all this anti-gringo talk is easy for South Americans who have plenty of food to feed themselves. Tomorrow, not today, easy for cowards to say.

  46. OK, here we go again another "war for humanitarian reasons" (mother of al oxymorons?) Is that why Trump wants troops out of Afghanistan and Syria, so he can send them to Venezuela?

  47. Why am I not surprised? It's always about oil. So long as the US government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil industry we'll keep seeing these headlines. Kuwait, Libya, Iraq – the list goes on. Oil allows US dollars to be the basis of the world economy. And that is backed up with sanctions and military force wherever the status quo is threatened. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crises in Yemen, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America are ignored and exacerbated by our indigenous arms industry. Only this time it seems that Russian oil business with Venezuela will get a boost. Lucky Vlad.

  48. This is always the case. Have you noted how nice the towns are after we liberate them and bring democracy? When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

  49. The proposition that US sanctions are aimed at anybody other than Venezuela’s poor is a lie. The purpose of sanctions (both Obama’s and Trump’s) as well as all the other largely covert tools used by the US to promote unrest and sabotage the economy has always been to drive a wedge between first Chavez’s and then Maduro’s large base of popular support precisely by making the lives of the people harder. Most Americans have little understanding of just how disruptiveof daily life our sanctions are for a poor and highly import dependent country like Venezuela. Those efforts have borne some fruit and might have enabled the opposition to beat Maduro in the elections they successfully demand that he call early last year. Instead the opposition split, half of them boycotted, and Maduro won with 65% of the vote in a very low turnout. (His share of the total electorate though was about the same as Obama’s.) Since then the opposition has attempted to gin up minor irregularities in an otherwise very transparent election as grounds for claiming the election was illegitimate. Most Venezuelans know this is nonsense. Now the US and it’s right wing allies in the region are attempting to impose an “interim president” that a month ago 80% of Venezuelans had never heard of — the fourth ranking deputy of a party whose oligarchic leader was imprisoned for fomenting murderous political violence — and is hoping more brutal sanctions will make it happen.

  50. Trump is criticized when, in opposition to his advisers, he wants to negotiate with North Korea, China, and the Taliban. There are complaints that war is good and we should not remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan. He then is criticized for following the advice of those same people when dealing with Venezuela. Will the Democrats’ genius experts please tell us what to do.

  51. This article makes it seem as if Venezuela is on the verge of collapse. That may in fact be the case, but it is also worth noting that the Venezuelan government has so far had success is keeping its oil industry operating. Russia has agreed to provide diluents, and Venezuela will have to shift crude sales to China, and pay the freight differential, but their oil industry will continue to function. As for the long term, oil operations in Venezuela continue to be profitable, for everyone but PDVSA. If PDVSA's management/Communist infighting problems were ever fixed, its operations would be profitable too.

  52. I am curious about this statement: The sanctions announced by the Treasury Department on Jan. 28 banned United States companies and individuals from dealing with Venezuela’s state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, or Pdvsa, which provides about 90 percent of the country’s hard currency. Does this mean 90% of Venezuela's economy is due to oil production? If so this is an extraordinary dependency on what should be an obsolete industry hopefully in the very near future. Along with other Latin American countries with an excessive dependency on oil revenue, it would be great to see other types of industry come in to diversify their economies as well as make the citizenry more insulated from these kinds of sanctions.

  53. It is all about oil, People of Venezuela are being used as pawns by the US and the West to control the energy riches of Venezuela. US and the West has a long history of colonization and working for the big business be they the East India Trading Company, United Fruit, BP, Shell, or Exxon. The countries they come from always pick sides and declare wars, arrange Coups to take control of the resources. We are going in Venezuela whether we like it or not- it has the largest known oil reserves in the world.

  54. lf our sordid history in Central and South America (and many morenations around the globe) has taught us anything, it is that we must stop undermining the government and elected leadership in Venezuela. We know this and other interventions have nothing to do with the desires or needs of the American people. It has to do with a global economic hegemony in the service of making profit for the elite and their multinational corporations. Do this illegal interventions make us safer? No. Do they make the lives of the people in those nations better? No again, even though it helps the 1% in those nations. Does the US do it for noble reasons? Hogwash. We are now a nation the supports torture, supports bombing civilians, supports all kind of illegality only because the people are numbed by a worthless, corporate media. Out now! And may the Bolton's, the Pompeo's, and yes the Obama's and Clinton's of this world be exposed and hounded and jailed for the criminality they have engaged with throughout the world.

  55. What the US elite and the political class fail to recognise, that the sanction business is and has always been a dull knife affecting very little, hurting mostly those who deserve it the least. In fact, the opposite is true: it accelerates the demise of the United States as a self-appointed global arbiter; country after country is diversifying away from the dollar, US Treasury bill holdings are ditched at an alarming rate. Soviet Russia was under a total technological embargo for all its existence; that hurt the people, but not the state's ability to become a rival superpower. Ditto with China. Soon the US will look like a kid's lemonade stand with no takers.

  56. To the Trump administration, hardships imposed on brown people are a feature, not a bug, of official policy.

  57. @Bob. Trump didn't impose hardship on these "brown people", they did it to themselves by voting in politicians promising free stuff..white folks make the mistake too. The "brown people" Venezuelans in 1960 had the 4th highest GDP ..the first country to eliminate malaria..medical care equivalent to western standard..

  58. Their lives are awful now, more sanctions will just be a blip on their day. It will also get those people to hit the streets.

  59. Along with the sanctions the U.S. and its Latin American and European allies have to be talking to Venezuela's generals. If the regime continues survives while it produces widespread malnutrition and even starvation then the issue at hand its removing this illegal regime with force. The obvious move then is to try to produce a military coup. Inducing an armed takeover in Venezuela is not a crime if the objective is the removal of a government that is no longer the recognized governing authority. The international community is fully within in its rights and obligations under international law to intervene in Venezuela with armed force including troops and aid to rebel forces if the objective is to remove the illegal regime and support the internationally recognized government that is being prevented from assuming control over the country's institutions.

  60. @Yankelnevich:And who decided that? China Mexico and Russia at least don't agree. The cruel US that falsely attacked Iraq killing hundreds of thousands is at it again using its dirty financial clout and you support it?. Who's next then Cuba, Bolivia or Nicaragua or any other country that doesn't bow down to the US demands?. Btw looks like Mr Guaidó hasn't pushed back against US imperialism right?.

  61. @Larry I guess the far left doesn't give up. Venezuela needs to be liberated. China and Russia are irrelevant.

  62. The International Mafia 0.01% Robber Baron/Radical religion Good Old Boys cabal put Venezuela into unmanageable debt with exorbitant interest rates to engineer the "fall" of Maduro. Notice that Steve Bannon already had their man in line to take over. The same 42 people who control half the resources and wealth of OUR world plan the same thing for OUR United States of America. That is why one of the first things The Con Don did was put us Trillions of $$$ in debt - to the Robber Barons. As soon as WE THE PEOPLE demand that he, Minister Pence and Traitor Mitch McConnell are removed Speaker Pelosi can use the debt for social good - and make sure the interest WE pay is zero, just as OUR money has been given to the Robber Barons to use while they robbed us blind. The time to stop them is NOW.

  63. The goal of US sanctions is always to cause pain to the populace with the hope that they will rise up and overthrow the target. This is contrary to international law so Washington has to act like this isn't their plan.

  64. The despot falls when he cannot pay/feed his army. It is a slow process but the inevitable end is both near and never painless. The editors need to read The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. For years the series was advertised in the Sunday NYT book section.

  65. The US is openly interfering with the internal politics of Venezuela. How is this different from Russian interference in Ukraine?

  66. @Mike OK Uh, they invaded and killed people. We're refusing to trade. Big and obvious difference.

  67. The ABC Australia writes - "United States in direct contact with Venezuelan military, urging defections from Nicolas Maduro". The good old Syria playbook. We all know how that ended. Will the US brook similar approach to US generals from China or Russia ? They would be charged with treason.

  68. It has been shown over time that embargoes cause more harm on the population rather than the leaders. One case in point is Cuba. That embargo that was placed on Cuba did little in encouraging Fidel Castro to step down. The embargo only stiffened his resolve-and drive him into the arms of the former Soviet Union. And many in the population did suffer. The embargo against Iran, equally as foolish as the Cuban embargo, has done little to drive the religious leaders out of Iran and like Cuba many suffered. The embargo will do little to encourage Maduro out of Caracas. And he too, like Castro, is cozying up to Putin. And the population is suffering greatly. And Trump will deem his embargo a success-on the backs of those starving. What is the answer? Perhaps more learned persons than Trump can answer.

  69. Good to see Russian Rosneft offering unselfish aid to the regime doing everything to stabilise the country in Bolivar’s image...

  70. and this is different from all our other sanctions ?

  71. Did we not learn anything from Cuba? They survived, and now you have an entire country that despises the US govt and still praise Castro. The sanctions hurt the people, not the leader. But those who don't know history (Trump) are destined to repeat it.

  72. The Venezuelan people must be total weaklings. I mean, if I was in their situation I'd do what that guy who stole the helicopter did. I'd rise up and fight the government. Since in the US we have this wonderful thing called the Second Amendment, I have a whole arsenal of weapons at my house. I'd raise a little army, raid the nearest Cabelas and take as much guns and ammo as I could (Including some anti-material and sniper rifles, yay USA!) and start killing politicians. I'm from Colorado, I'd Red Dawn that situation hardcore. You know what Venezuelans dont have? The Second Amendment. They are stuck waiting for their army to decide their fate. Since the army is owned by Maduro, boom, you got people dying of prostate cancer and doing nothing but sitting in a chair against some wall waiting to die. That's lame. If I was that dude I do whatever I could to get a gun and assassinate Maduro. I mean, if you are just going to die anyway, why not do something?