Washington, D.C.—A new report published by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) finds that, while Venezuela’s economic crisis began before the first U.S. sectoral sanctions were imposed in 2017, these measures “directly contributed to its deep decline, and to the further deterioration of the quality of life of Venezuelans.” The 53-page report, authored by Venezuelan economist Luis Oliveros, examines the impact that increasingly broad U.S. sanctions have had across various sectors in the country, including on its beleaguered oil industry, on imports of food, medicine, fuel, and other essential goods, and on the work of humanitarian and non-governmental organizations.
The full report by Oliveros, an economist at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, makes use of private assessments, unofficial data, and publicly-available figures in order to review the impact of U.S. sanctions in Venezuela since 2017. The full report is available here in Spanish, with condensed versions also available in English and Spanish. Key findings include:
The report concludes that U.S. policymakers need to rethink U.S. sanctions, and to limit their impact on Venezuela’s worsening humanitarian emergency. While economic, political, and military elites propping up Venezuela’s authoritarian government seem to be insulated from the effects of these sanctions, they are taking an increasing toll on the country’s population.
“The data in Oliveros’ report is clear. Venezuela was already suffering from a years-long crisis due to corruption and economic mismanagement, and then in 2017 U.S. sectoral sanctions further accelerated this decline. While Venezuela’s economic chaos is far worse than in 2017, the country appears no closer to a badly-needed peaceful, democratic solution to the crisis. It is past time for the U.S. government to reform its sanctions regime in ways that alleviate the humanitarian crisis and more effectively contribute to a return to democracy,” said Geoff Ramsey, WOLA Director for Venezuela.
WOLA, a research and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a negotiated political accord that leads to free and fair elections in Venezuela, has repeatedly joined Venezuelan civil society in expressing concern about the impact of U.S. sanctions in the country. On September 1, WOLA joined with 115 Venezuelan organizations and individuals in urging the U.S. government to refrain from widening sanctions to restrict the flow of diesel in the country.
“U.S. policy-makers thought these sanctions were short-term measures that would swiftly lead to a democratic transition. But they have hurt the Venezuelan people more than the government, thereby strengthening Maduro’s hand and creating a deadlock. It’s time for the U.S. to rethink its Venezuela sanctions package,” said WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde.