Venezuela currently faces a deep economic and humanitarian crisis which is rooted in the dismantling of the rule of law, the destruction of legal and institutional order, and years of corruption and mismanagement by the government of Nicolás Maduro. With this in mind, the signing organizations are concerned by the likelihood that the lifting of extensions on U.S. sanctions that allow the importation of diesel to Venezuela could aggravate the impact of the humanitarian crisis on the Venezuelan population.
On September 1, a group of 115 organizations and individuals in Venezuelan and U.S. civil society published an open letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to express concern over the possible consequences of this measure. One month later, we have not received an official response, and all indications suggest that the Trump administration is moving forward with the implementation of new restrictions on the exchange of fuel in Venezuela. Facing this situation, the 28 signing organizations once again express our profound concern over the devastating consequences this measure would have on the Venezuelan people, while having no effect on overcoming the political conflict currently affecting the country.
In Venezuela, diesel imports are the primary source of fuel for the generation of electricity and for the transportation of basic goods including food, medicine, and humanitarian aid. Limiting access to these already scarce goods and services would have profound consequences for the poorest sectors of society that are already in an extremely vulnerable situation, as well as for the humanitarian organizations that provide them assistance. To cut access to diesel would devastate an already crumbling supply chain in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and the additional restrictions associated with the pandemic. Based on these premises, we reaffirm our concern over the negative effects that this measure would have, such as:
The evidence shows that the general sanctions imposed by the United States have aggravated the economic situation in the country, while not appearing to have had any definitive impact on the governing elite. On the contrary, these broad sanctions have decimated the citizens’ ability to respond to abuses of power by deepening the humanitarian situation of the Venezuelan population, while the elites within the regime appear more entrenched in power than ever before.
Based on this evidence, and foreseeing the likely negative consequences of these new restrictions on access to diesel fuel, the signing organizations once again call on the U.S. government to extend its commitment to a peaceful, negotiated, and democratic transition in Venezuela, and to maintain the current extensions on the importation of diesel. It is imperative that the U.S. reaffirm its commitment to these goals, while avoiding any measures that deepen human suffering on the ground.