Sens. Cruz, Risch, Colleagues Demand Biden Administration Enforce Sanctions on Maduro Regime
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter with six of their Senate Republican colleagues to President Joe Biden calling on his administration to reverse political concessions and increase pressure on the Maduro regime in Venezuela, after the administration eased economic pressure as part of a deal related to the Venezuelan elections in 2024.
In the letter, the Senators wrote, “We are concerned about your administration’s decision to ease pressure on the Maduro regime. This change in posture was based on promises made by an indicted international criminal who has a strong record of using delay tactics to remain in power illegitimately. We implore you to reverse course and recommit to a strong campaign of diplomatic and economic pressure to hasten a transition to a democratic government in Venezuela. Failure to do so only benefits the Maduro regime and its strategic partners, China, Russia, and Iran.”
Cosigners of the letter include U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.).
Read the full text of the resolution here or below.
Dear President Biden,
We are concerned about your administrations’ decision to ease pressure on the Maduro regime. This change in posture was based on promises made by an indicted international criminal who has a strong record of using delay tactics to remain in power illegitimately. We implore you to reverse course and recommit to a strong campaign of diplomatic and economic pressure to hasten a transition to a democratic government in Venezuela. Failure to do so only benefits the Maduro regime and its strategic partners, China, Russia, and Iran.
In August 2021, your administration pledged support for dialogues in Mexico City between the Maduro regime and Venezuelan political groups. Throughout this time, your administration promised to calibrate sanctions based on progress or regress, while pledging, “Maduro is making a critical mistake if he thinks that our patience is infinite and dilatory tactics will serve him well.”
Your administration sought to advance this process by lifting anti-corruption sanctions on individuals in Maduro’s inner circle, granting clemency to his drug trafficking nephews, and easing financial sanctions on his regime’s oil sector while restricting U.S. energy production. Two years in, it is clear this approach has backfired. The Maduro regime has cracked down on Venezuelan civil society, forced leading opposition figures into exile, seized control over all institutions in Venezuela, banned leading presidential candidates, and deepened cooperation with China, Russia, and Iran.
Your administration’s announcement last week of broad sanctions relief to the Maduro regime’s petroleum, gas, and gold industries and sovereign debt and equity securities will only further enable this behavior. Additionally, Chinese, Russian, and Iranian state firms are all deeply invested in the petroleum and mining sectors in Venezuela and will profit from this sanctions relief.
The Maduro regime confirmed its contempt for your strategy last week by announcing an accord that fails to free any political prisoners, lift arbitrary bans on political candidates, restore the country’s democratic institutions, or commit to a free and fair electoral process. Your administration’s new standard seems to be merely “competitive elections,” which includes none of these conditions.
Concessions under these conditions will fail to deliver a democratic transition, jeopardize American lives, and strengthen the hand of malign external actors and global terrorist networks. Meanwhile, wrongfully detained Americans languish in Maduro’s prisons.
We urge you to immediately deem the accord offered by Maduro as inadequate and move to cancel these concessions. Your administration should also fully enforce U.S. sanctions on the regime, recommit to diplomatic efforts for our European allies to match U.S. and Canadian sanctions, pressure the regime to release all Americans detained in Venezuela, and conduct robust freedom-of-navigation and law enforcement operations. We must deny the Maduro regime’s ability to benefit from transnational organized crime and global terrorist networks in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.