Photo: Washington Examiner

Sanctions always bring hope. To many, they’re a sign of the world paying attention to Venezuela, that they’re trying to help; sanctions are often seen as the ultimate show of support a country can make. Like most Venezuelans, every time a new one is announced, I revel in the thought of Diosdado and other enchufados unable to travel to Miami or use their frozen assets. It seems appropriate that they remain trapped in the misery they created, right?

Perhaps.

Sanctions are complicated. They’re messy, controversial. The reason? They rarely work.

Recently, the United States, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland have imposed targeted financial sanctions on Venezuelan officers, freezing their assets overseas and prohibiting financial transactions. President Donald Trump has issued three Executive Orders further limiting financial transactions with the Venezuelan government.

Sanctions are complicated. They’re messy, controversial. The reason? They rarely work.

But it’s much easier to implement sanctions than it is to have them succeed. When used as a diplomatic tool, they always carry demands, and the likelihood of those demands being met decreases dramatically if they’re of high cost to the target of the sanctions.

So what makes them effective? Specific and attainable demands.

There’s such a thing as “bad” sanctions, those too broad. An example is the Trump administration’s new demands for lifting the sanctions on Iran. Among them, are huge concessions for Iran’s regional geopolitical influence (like withdrawing all troops from Syria and stopping support for Houthi rebels in Yemen). Meeting these would spell the end for Iran’s political leadership domestically, which has already struggled to find support from political hardliners.

Most sanctions against Venezuela carry demands for free and fair elections and the restoration of democratic rule. And while these are reasonable, they are neither specific nor easily attainable.

Support for Maduro’s government at home and across Latin America dwindles. Every day, the regime is more isolated, and that’s not necessarily good; the more isolated a government is, the higher the costs of exit are, and sanctions have not helped in this respect. In the current political climate, there are massive disincentives for the PSUV leadership to give up power.

There’s such a thing as “bad” sanctions, those too broad.

Now, this doesn’t mean that sanctions are completely useless, but the solution lies in well-crafted demands. Sanctions must offer explicit, accessible alternatives for the regime, otherwise they are worthless in fomenting change. Free and fair elections are a great start, but there needs to be explicit guidelines. Demanding full access to independent international observers that have been jointly agreed upon is an example, the appointment of key opposition members to important government positions is another.

Another option would be to provide a viable exit strategy for the regime, such as a form of power-sharing or amnesty (an appalling, indigestible reality for Venezuelans). Take South Africa’s post-apartheid transition to democracy, after years of international sanctions and pariahship as example. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission generally granted amnesty to those who confessed crimes committed under apartheid. The prospect of clemency in place of retributive justice was a major factor in securing a political solution.

Sanctions have the potential to be effective when applied correctly, and while sanctions against Venezuelan officials should remain a cause for celebration, we should continue to consider the extent of their effectiveness and look for strategies that ensure their success.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds pretty weak. It can be argued that while “imperfect” sanctions are being applied to the Venezuelan regime Venezuelans are not doing a damn thing about getting rid of the gang of thieves and drug traffickers.The suggestion by the author of shared power or, even, of a general amnesty, offering South Africa as an example, is unacceptable. It would almost guarantee the return of the criminals after a short vacation from power. Justice has to be applied or all the struggle has been for nothing. Firm rejection and punishment of the criminals is a moral imperative. There cannot be a satisfactory solution to the Venezuelan tragedy unless justice is applied.

    • 300 % correct. The stick without the carrot is the only measure or “demand” that would work in KleptoCubazulea.

    • Well, it was written by a newspaper that is based inside the beltway of Washington DC. That they offer any ACTUAL insight would be asking for the moon AND stars.

  2. Nobody forced Chavismo to take out BILLIONS of dollars in loans that it had zero intention of repaying. That Uncle Sam prohibits his citizens from refinancing those loans on the backs of suffering Venezuelans… to prolong that suffering?

    Too bad.

    If there are sanctions that cause Venezuelans to suffer, there is only ONE PLACE to put the blame. It isn’t Uncle Sam… because if money is the problem, then China and Russia would be offering Maduro blank checks.

  3. There are many difeent pressures operating on the regime , the worsening conditions of its finances , of the countries economy, the effects of hyperinflation and scarcity and dysfunctional government services on its popularity , the breakdown of the oil industry and resulting unstoppable fall in production and income , the increasing signs of military dissafection , its incacity to service its debt not only with its bondholders but with its supposed chinese and russian allies, the noticiable cooling of their support , the increasinly aggresive and effective legal actions of its creditors , a veritable cauldron of troubles , to that you add the sanctions , the sanctions represent just one front of troubles which the regime has to face among several …..the sanctions are on going and extend each day further and further both in their scale and geographically ……..they ve both created or worsened problems for the govt. in ways that are sometimes indirect , for example by making the reciept and payment of funds more difficult as banks and institutions take precautions to avoid their penalties , by making any financial restructuring more difficult , by causing key service and goods providers to refrain from dealing with it because of the reputationaldamage to their images and the possibility of falling foul of it sometimes very general interedictions ….not just by affecting the private finances of top bosses. sanctions operate cummulatively and gradually cornering the regime each day into a tighter corner. todays sanctions maybe followed by new more aggresive sanctions depending on the govts behaviour , this may be already affecting the govts behaviour towards the official opposition , it may be causing the govt to at least let go of some of its prisioners……the effects of sanctions are sometimes slowgoing and not always very apparent….
    I do think that making the demands more specific and targeted might help , but then as the situation moves the demands might have to be changed , made more ambitious ……then the offer of some form of clemency might work to dissuade those fearful of their fate if the govt is toppled , but on the other hand it might strenghten their resolve if they figure that they can continue their hold of power as in the end giving it up wont involve such sacrifice to their interests and well being , in fact leading to a contrary result……..than that intended……!! I dont know the answer to these questions . I do think its a mistake tothink that the top leaders concerns are purely mercenary , their whole existence in invested in wielding absolute power to give it up would be emotionally so destructive to their egoes that they would rather die than give it up , lust for absolute power has such a hold on gangster like fanatics that they will do anything to maintain it…!! In any event any clemency rules should have exceptions for the worse cases and provide that they will in future be precluded from political office of any kind ….
    I am not sure of the answers…If I were convinced that certain clemency promises might help operate a change in regime I would not oppose it (even while holding mi nose while doing it) but I am not that certain that the consequences would be those that some imagine……..

  4. Huh?

    “There’s such a thing as “bad” sanctions, those too broad. An example is the Trump administration’s new demands for lifting the sanctions on Iran. Among them, are huge concessions for Iran’s regional geopolitical influence (like withdrawing all troops from Syria and stopping support for Houthi rebels in Yemen).”

    Where did this fiction come from?

    Trump reinstated the sanctions because of the Sunshine Clause, which didn’t prevent Iran from eventually manufacturing nuclear weapons. Iran’s involvement in other arenas had nothing to do with it. They were just examples of why Iran should never be allowed to have nukes.

    Does anyone on CC fact-check this stuff?

    • Ira,
      I think you mean the Sunset Clause.

      I agree that it was a lousy deal that was struck, but I also think that Trump is not reacting intelligently right now.

      US sanctions applied unilaterally to Iran have already been tried and they failed dismally. If Trump tries to go it alone, the best he will achieve is to end up looking ineffectual.

      But that is not the worst problem. The other problem here is timing. Trump seems to see Iran as a homogeneous political entity, full of religious nutcases. (Dumbed down USA media strikes again.) It isn’t. Here is a good summary from Ahmad Sadri:-

      “Deep within Iran’s authoritarian system there is a tiny democratic heart, complete with elective, presidential and parliamentary chambers, desperately beating against an unyielding, theocratic exoskeleton. That palpitating democratic heart has prolonged the life of the system – despite massive mismanagement of the domestic and international affairs by the revolutionary elites.

      But it has failed to soften the authoritarian carapace. The reform movement has failed in its mission because the constitution grants three quarters of the political power to the office of the “Supreme Leader”: an unelected, permanent appointment whereby a “religious jurist” gains enormous powers, including command of the armed forces and foreign policy, veto power over presidential cabinets and parliamentary initiatives, and the world’s most formidable Pretorian Guard (IRGC), with military, paramilitary, intelligence, judicial and extrajudicial powers to enforce the will of its master.”

      Right now the mood is solidly behind Rouhani and his reformist policies. He has an extremely high approval rating. In contrast, support for the religious dictatorship is somewhere between 15 and 25%. Serious riots have re-emerged in Iran since 2017 directed against the religious leadership. Here was one of the main triggers (Sadri again) :-

      “Further fuel was added to the volatile mix as a series of mammoth corruption schemes came to the light. Then, under pressure from the right wing, President Rouhani decided to justify raising taxes on gasoline by revealing the massive, entitlement budget for religious foundations that was imposed on him by powers that be. It is hard to overestimate the anger this profligacy inspired in people.”

      By making his very public statements right now, and then unilaterally reneging on a treaty-level agreement, Trump has played straight into the hands of the religious right-wing in Iran at the worst possible time. In the long term Iran will be much safer with the introduction of parliamentary democracy and individual freedoms – much safer than any international agreement. But that is less likely to happen when President Trump hands to the religious leadership the weapon to cut off the legs of the main force for positive change in the country.

  5. de·mand
    dəˈmand/Submit
    noun
    1.
    an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.
    “a series of demands for far-reaching reforms”
    synonyms: request, call, command, order, dictate, ultimatum, stipulation
    “I gave in to her demands”
    verb
    1.
    ask authoritatively or brusquely.
    ———————————————————————————————-

    Problem is, people utilize specific works way too loosely. The ‘international community” can’t “demand” shit from Kleptozuela’s criminal thugs in power. They have to force them, obligate them, persuade them it’s in their best selfish and corrupt interest to give in to any weak foreign requests. They have to lure them into sometimes obscure deals, threaten them with real consequences for non-compliance and then follow-through. Hit’em where it hurts, their wallets, but everywhere, not just in Panama or Switzerland or Miami. Shut down the freaking oil would be a humble start.

  6. “power-sharing ”

    The thing that’s been for 18 years, it’s been proven to no end that IT WON’T WORK.

    ” amnesty ”

    They were offered an amnesty in the 60s, and look what they did with their chance.

  7. I’m repetitive, I know, pero es que no se van por las buenas.

    They have absolutely no intention of leaving power, nor do their colonial masters, Cuba, will allow them relinquish power. Juego trancado.

    Their problem is that they are true communist believers and they demolished the economy while looting it on the side in good vivo criollo fashion.

    Someone is going to have to dislodge them a balazos. I see two factions with the guns. Chavistas that think THEY CAN DO BETTER than Maduro, or the military which has been running the country for 2 years and learns the late lesson that military rulers suck at running a country, just ask the generals of 70s in the rest of South America, some are still alive to tell you the disaster that it was (military running a country as backwards as bell bottoms!!).

    In the meantime I read with the guilty pleasure of someone sitting in Atlanta with a US passport while the Aporreans write mea culpas about their support for Maduro and proclaim that only true socialism will save us. Talk about come mierdisimo mayusculo.

    • I was thinking about the argument for negotiation, amnesty, power sharing… with proven thugs!!???

      May I remind you of Pablo Escobar? How did that go? Did Chamberlain or Molotov appease Adolf?

    • The comment section of this particular piece could be closed now because renacuajo67 said all that needed to be said. Well done sir.

      • The Americans pardoned thousands of Nazi thugs to get the fucking thing over with, and to steal their rocket engineers from the Soviets.

        Yeah, no rocket engineers in VZ, but my point is:

        .000001% of Nazi murderers ever faced justice. And that’s okay:

        As long as the top 50 of Chavismo elite do.

    • “Their problem is that they are true communist believers…”

      This is the only point where I disagree. There are no true “believers” left in real power in Venezuela. And there haven’t been any in Cuba since the sixties. The opportunists and thugs in these regimes regimes quickly destroy the original “believers”.

      • We have liberals in the states, millions and millions of them, who are still true believers in their position, the facts be damned.

        And just as often, also conservatives, depending on the issue.

        It’s hard to admit you’re wrong.

  8. “Another option would be to provide a viable exit strategy for the regime, such as a form of power-sharing or amnesty ”

    Another option, the one that would actually work, would be to bring back MPJ from the dead, or someone similar, and put him in power for 20 years. Then Kleptozuela would become better than Chile after Pinochet, after a couple decades of tough love, work, infrastructure building, and pervasive, real education. By then, the regime’s complicit thugs and thieves would have been crushed and extinguished for good, a few million of them average pueblo-people “avispaos” at every level and in every city, not just thousands of top chavistoide crooks. Do the crime pay the time, and then some. That’s how you form character in a putrid society such as ours back there. Unfortunately.

  9. TRUMP, BOLTON, POMPEO and HALEY.
    If you dont understand them, and its geopolitical influence and mission statement, then you truly are blind.
    And from reading that article you need glasses mate.

    • As of now Venezuela is still notches down on America’s geopolitical todo list, but will eventually be up. Have patience.

      With Duque as president elect in Colombia, this should only speed up the process. Colombia entering NATO sends shivers down the spines of the chimbo military in kleptozuela. We need to mop up the guerrilleros in both Colombia and Venezeula to bring peace and security to the region.

      I think there are a few more geopolitical chess pieces that need to be played first, the situation in Venezuela has to worsen and then you have the political calendar in el imperio… but eventually Venezuela will take center stage.

  10. I get it. Sanctions can be improved but everything can be imoroved. Moreover life is comparative. An idea doesn’t exist in isolation. It has to be compared to alternatives. The alternative to sanctions will involve mass casualties and even greater damage to the country. So unless you want bloodshed and a lot of it you should favor sanctions. As to the so called more effective ends of sanctions, power sharing and amnesty. They are both rubbish and theur very offer at this stage us harmful. The author admits that amnesty is a no go for Venezuelans and power sharing is utterly nonsensical. If the Chavistas wished to end the sanctions they can do so by offering free and fair supervised elections. The best form of power sharing is a free election where the voters allocate power with their votes. The Chavistas have rejected this offer. So, I just dont find that this article was well thought out and is not helpful to the cause of ending the dictatorship. Offering power sharing, i.e., free elections, as a carrot to ending sanctions at this stage of the game while pretending that this offer has not already been rejected only encourages the Chavistas to cling to power knowing that the offer of a get out of jail free card is still available to them down the road.

  11. The author’s point is that for sanctions to be effective, they need to be actionable–feasible and measurable. OK, we have issue with his own suggestions. Now, where are our suggestions for feasible and measurable actions that can be achieved to bring about regime change? Are there none? Because, as Bill Crispin indicates, the alternative is a blood bath. and for those who say “So be it”, first I want to see photos of you fighting the war in Venezuelan soil before I take you seriously.

    • The war will come and it may only last a night, but a war it will be, and it will be among Chavistas. Such war will be like the implosion of the Soviet Union, an internal action (perestorika, glasnost) that will mortally destabilize Chavismo.

    • “the alternative is a blood bath”

      Because half a million murders that never see the light of day are better than less than 200 that are made public.

      Your problem isn’t that the problem exists, your problem is that IT GETS NOTICED.

      And let’s remember the cynical words of one of the worst collaborators for the regime, Capriles, when he was addressed about his complete lack of defense of his presidency in both 2012 and 2013:

      “I STOPPED A CIVIL WAR”

      Yeah, sure, the more than 120.000 ones that have been murdered by the regime and their families are SO GRATEFUL now.

      • I do not have a problem. I am aware of all you say. But you provide no concrete, viable, solutions to the problem. Easy to dump on the writers here. Harder to come up with solutions.

  12. Individual Ven. sanctions probably wont work so long as you have hegemonic Cuban ideological/military control of Venezuela. Trujillo said it best (reflecting thinking at the top)–the evil starts with the Island, both for Venezuela/the Region. Sleeping with a no-holds-barred enemy will not contribute to a lasting peace.

  13. So NET perhaps the strategy should be to separate Cuba from Venezuela. Cuba has to know that Venezuela’s ability to support the Cuban revolution is likely to diminish substantially placing the Communists there in jeopardy. Perhaps the West should offer Cuba oil conditioned on the withdrawal of Cuban military advisors and intelligence assets from Venezuela. Now this suggestion has an obvious flaw in that it would perpetuate communism in Cuba. However, saving 30 million people at the cost of about 10 million people is a good deal but ending the Cuban Venezuelan axis would be helpful for all of South and Central American countries.

    • Good idea, except Cuba has its sights set not just on Venezuela, but, as usual, on the whole Region. In fact, far from celebrating Duque’s win, one should ask HOW Petro could get 41% popular vote from Colombians living next door to the Venezuelan economic holocaust and living with 1mill.+Ven. refugees in-country and at least that many transiting to countries further south. Containing the Cuban cancer has not been very effective to date.

    • It’s not a bad concept… accepting a gradual change in Cuba for them to stop meddling.

      However…

      1. It’ll never fly as long as Raul is alive.

      2. The Cuban G2 is too powerful to allow themselves to be made irrelevant.

  14. “Support for Maduro’s government at home and across Latin America dwindles. Every day, the regime is more isolated, and that’s not necessarily good; the more isolated a government is, the higher the costs of exit are, and sanctions have not helped in this respect. In the current political climate, there are massive disincentives for the PSUV leadership to give up power.”

    If anyone doubted that a parallel universe exists, I give you proof.

  15. This is a very weak argument. It only makes sense if your intention is to accept the continued existance of the regime as long as they tone down the rhetoric and promise not to abuse their citizens… too much… or too publicly… or whatever.

    But that isn’t the goal. This is a rogue regime run by criminals. The only reasonable goal is for the regime to fall or leave. The only way that will happen is if enough individual pressure is applied to force individuals in the regime to start bailing out.

  16. I concur with the dilema, raising barriers for capitulation or value and virtue signalling with little practical consequences.

    In my book, the true enemy is not the regime, they are all but puppets of the cuban regime. Or agents of criminal interests, foreign and local, such as drugs, arms, gasoline, diamond smugglers, people smugglers, etc.

    Venezuela has become a petri dish for all things wrong. The humanitarias refugee and famine crosses ara just harbingers of worse to come.

    I take a strong exception for the picture in the article. Its not about posing maduro- or chavez at his time- its about understanding the lost sovereignty, the descent into chaos, rule of lawlessness and the entry of the organized crime interests (and geopolitical interests) of many foreign players.

    Its about opposing low information and low activations voters and citizens, its about opposing corrupt oppositions and regime collaborators, its about opposing a low self esteem as a nation and fighting (real fighting, armed, bloody) for your homeland.

    I think its time to recognize the acomodamientos of the last 40 years (58-98), and of the last 20 years (former “democrats allowing communists, and later communists allowing “democratic opposition”) BOTH have failed the nation.

  17. Hey CC staff, isn’t it time for an article on how Nicaragua’s national protests might ultimately affect Venezuela? If you’ve posted one and I missed it, someone please provide a linky.

    Barricades and Empty Streets: Nicaragua’s Leader Loses Control

    MASAYA, Nicaragua—The streets of this largely indigenous city are strewn with rubble and mostly deserted. Bullet holes dot the colonnade of the city’s main plaza. The police station is the last remaining government stronghold.

    “We are going to make hamburger meat out of them”, said a masked man armed with a homemade bazooka…………….

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/barricades-and-empty-streets-nicaraguas-leader-loses-control-1529314200

    • MRubio,

      I don’t think that anyone has written about this. I have given it some thought before now, and I couldn’t reach any definitive conclusions.

      The geographic, economic, and cultural circumstances of the two countries couldn’t be more different, so you can’t draw parallels. The only thing that was even worth considering was that the fall of Ortega in Nicaragua could provide a psychological momentum of some sort. But, even that would largely depend on the manner in which the end comes.

      If you have some angle that I haven’t thought of, I would like to here it.

  18. No one mentions them but there are also self imposed sanctions that the regime inflcits on itself by creating conditions that make putting money in Venezuela or in the regime pockets something that no rational person or country can do ………clearly the regimes own incompetent and corrupt behaviour does little to create the trust that anyone must have to do so , even the chinese and the russians are wary of putting more money in Venezuela because they know that its sure to be lost …..take as an example how the govt offered the russians and chinese the run of pdvsa’s refineries and how these purportedly close allies refused the offer ……, if the regime were to act so as to attract the confidence of people with money in their pockets they would be able to have an easier time of it …but clearly after many years of botching all they attempt on the economic side there is no one left to give them any substantial help. The cubans may give them some support but only by furnishing experts on the operation of a coercive apparatus , but they are as broke as the regime here and in danger of falling into even worse times themselves….!!

  19. Yesterday was Father’s Day for us up here, and the Colombia election slipped my mind.

    I’ll do a Google search now…I’m happy with the outcome…but I don’t know the final numbers, nor the repercussions from Duque’s win and Petro’s loss.

  20. @Ira..Duque won 51 percent to 41 percent which amounted to a more than 2 million vote difference. The wife’s family in Medellin collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief…

    Mexico votes next on July 1. Unfortunately the leftist candidate, Obrador, is leading in the polls. I guess Mexicans have decided they kind of like what Venezuela and Cuba are looking like these days and must want some of that too!

    • mexico is already a failed narcostate so it would be fitting.

      I have been reading so many mexican leftists insulting me and others with the same rethoric chavistas used and same falacies that i already wish the Amlo wins so they can reap what they sow.

      “but mexico is not venezuela” “venezuela is not real socialism” “is all USAs fault anyway”

  21. “Sanctions are complicated. They’re messy, controversial. The reason? They rarely work. ”

    This is a pretty naive statement which seems to come from academic dialectic rather than world experience. Sanctions are always messy and controversial but not because they rarely work. In fact they almost always work to force some change providing that there is sufficient multilateral support on their implementation. The main reason that they are always controversial is that they do not attack an authoritarian government directly, instead the first victims are always the ordinary people in the country.

    Individuals who argue that economic sanctions rarely work generally reach that conclusion from applying onerous, nit-picking measures of success – typically involving (a) unrealistic timeframes (they have to work almost immediately), (b) an insistence that they have to work on their own rather than as one of several causative factors, and (c) a requirement that they result in a specific set of “demands” being met in their entirety. The real world is not so clean and well defined. With less onerous measures of success, sanctions do work consistently in the sense that they damage economic activity, weaken a government and put direct pressure on a regime from popular reaction. In fact, the only times they do not work in this sense is when the targeted regime can fully replace sanctioned sources of trade and investment with alternatives – i.e. there are sanction busters – or when the sanctioned sources which are cut off represent only a marginal component of the targeted economy. So generally sanctions must be robust and multilateral to be effective.

    Ask anyone who was living in Rhodesia during the 70’s whether sanctions were effective – despite South Africa acting as a sanctions-buster. In South Africa itself, sanctions during the eighties severely damaged the economy and the miltary effectiveness of the South African government at a critical time when it was dealing with guerilla attacks, yet some academics still argue that the oil and arms embargo “did not work” because it was only one of several determinants that ended the apartheid regime. In both instances the sanctions were effective not only because of the direct actions taken by governments, but because the political pressure led to capital flight and the withdrawal of DFI by private companies and individuals due to loss of confidence, unacceptable political risk or, more cynically, concern about brand image.

    In contrast, Clinton’s ILSA act 1996 had only marginal effect on Iran, largely because it was unilateral (although applied extraterritorially by the US), and easily bypassed, and Iran had little problem finding alternative suppliers and buyers. The UN sanctions imposed in 2010 were a different matter. After a period of a sustained rebuilding of its economy, despite ILSA, Iran lost over one-third of its economy between 2011 and 2015, suffering hyperinflation and scarcity, and a reemergence of popular unrest. This led in 2013 to the landslide win of the reformist Rouhani as President, replacing the former hawk Ahmadinejad. Iran returned to the negotiating table. This was a genuine victory for the reformist opposition in Iran over the true autocratic government which is the religious regime under the Supreme Leader.

    In truth then, there are only two valid arguments that can be made against applying sanctions against authoritarian regimes:-
    A. Sanctions will not be effective because the country has alternative sources of trade and investment. This suggests that economic sanctions have to be internationally supported.
    B. The first people to suffer are the ordinary people of the country – who are already victims of the regime, while the regime leadership is the last to suffer.

    It is this second argument that means that economic sanctions are always controversial even when there is widespread international consensus that a regime has to go, and they should remain controversial, because sanctions ALWAYS take much longer to have any impact than optimists expect. During that time, the people of the country become twice victimised. If there was a vibrant militant opposition in Venezuela, then supporting strong sanctions would be an easy decision. Muscular economic sanctions would weaken the government and assist an early overthrow. However, given the complete absence of any credible organised resistance in Venezuela, (far less than there is in Iran), the risk is that sanctions will just accelerate the number of deaths among the civilian population without having any short or medium term effect on the regime itself . The kleptocracy will be the last to suffer and will not voluntarily let go under any circumstances short of a credible promise of amnesty.

    Given that the Venezuelan regime is managing to do a great voluntary job of destroying the economy without trade sanctions, my present stance is that (a) it was and remains an excellent idea to restrict the regime’s ability to raise new debt finance as well as applying individual sanctions to the identifiable criminal leaders and (b) trade sanctions at the present time is unlikely to accelerate the regime’s failure, but will add considerably to human misery. I would change my view on (b) in a heartbeat if there were any signs of an armed insurrection.

  22. I agree with this piece. Congrats to the author. The more time passes, the more I get convinced that either we give them an exit strategy (which will sadly include amnesties and other guarantees) or we will never overcome this nightmare. There is no other choice. The Maria Corinas and Ledezmas and the likes who keep arguing that we will run them out of power and prosecute them and …. are doing a great disservice. Wishful thinking.

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