Sanctions as a Sugar High

No, we don't really think tightening U.S. sanctions against corrupt Venezuelan officials, as a bipartisan group on the hill proposes, will destabilize the Maduro regime. It'll feel good for sure, though.

Today, we take a break from our viral coverage of the U.S. Executive to look at Congress [note to Venezuelan readers: in other countries, such as the U.S., the legislative power is allowed to exist], because nothing makes this pitiyanki happier than seeing chavista kleptocrats sanctioned in all their human-rights-violating glory.

The AP’s Josh Goodman reports that a bipartisan group of 34 lawmakers signed a letter urging President Trump to add more offenders to the list of Venezuelan government and military officials that profit from not distributing food.

02.08.2017 Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez Letter to the White House by Caracas Chronicles on Scribd

The letter rips into two generals, Rodolfo Marco Torres and Carlos Osorio, for their multimillion dollar food trafficking shenanigans. It also takes Odebrecht, Brazil’s posterchild-for-corporate-integrity, to task for paying for $98 million worth of bribes to Venezuelan officials. But my favorite part is the itemized list of terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption charges that several media outlets have reported our Vice President, Tareck el Aissami, has alleged links to:

  • The American Interest from September 9, 2009 reported Mr. El Aissami, who at one time headed ONIDEX, the Venezuelan passport and naturalization agency inside the interior ministry, is suspected of having issued passports to members of Hamas and Hezbollah. There are also allegations that El Aissami and others affiliated with Hezbollah are in charge of recruiting young Venezuelan Arabs who are then trained in Hezbollah camps in southern Lebanon.
  • The Wall Street Journal stated on November 23, 2014 that “El Aissami’s office used information technology developed by Cuban state security to give some 173 individuals from the Middle East new Venezuelan identities that are extremely difficult to trace.” The same article continues by alleging “that regional intelligence officials believe that of the more notable persons of interest who received false papers from Caracas was Suleiman Ghani Abdul Waked, an important member of Lebanese Hezbollah.”
  • The Wall Street Journal article from May 18, 2015 stated that former Venezuelan finance minister and governor of Aragua Rafel Isea “told investigators that Walid Makled, a drug kingpin now in prison, paid off Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami to get drug shipments through Venezuela.”

Following in the footsteps of the 2014 Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, the proposed sanctions would freeze the assets and ban granting visas to government officials involved in corruption and/or human rights violations.

Personally, I savor the thought of Tareck’s children never knowing what a free refill is.

And just like in 2014, some opposition actors are actively lobbying against the sanctions, presumably to keep their enchufado wealth from being seized.

Which brings me to the question, do these sanctions achieve anything beyond the sugar high people like me get from knowing the life of an asshole has been inconvenienced, however briefly?

Personally, I savor the thought of Tareck’s children never knowing what a free refill is. If it were up to me, I would deny General Osorio food for the rest of his life. Or better yet, make him eat trash, forever.

But let’s get real, if the gringos really wanted to get all up in the Venezuelan regime’s business, a Bush on Noriega Panama-style takeover is more in character than sending a few crooked officials to the corner for a time out. Venezuela doesn’t factor into U.S. defense planners’ priorities.

We are not a threat, we are a nuisance.

None of which, of course, dissuaded Nicolás Maduro from slapping the label “traitors to the patria” on the group of Venezuelan congressmen (yes, Men) currently in D.C. to support sanctions. Or from claiming that Freddy Guevara, Armando Armas and José Gregorio Correa are instigating a U.S. military invasion of Venezuela. Which isn’t going to happen for the reasons mentioned above.

When you’re convinced nothing will work, you start to see the attraction of a sugar high.

Emiliana Duarte

Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.