Sunday, March 02, 2014

Congress Resolving Venezuela

Here is the text of the proposed Senate resolution about Venezuela. Its thrust is to "urge" the president to use targeted sanctions against individuals deemed to be contributing to repression. Given its authors, I'm a bit surprised it is not more strongly worded and/or harsh in sanctions.

Looking back, I saw there was a resolution from 2013, which passed. The basic wording was similar but without the sanctions. Go back to 2007 and you find something similar and co-sponsored by Senator Obama.

And then, of course, there is this House Resolution giving the president authority, even up to war, to pursue claims by U.S. citizens against the Venezuelan government. Oh wait, that one is 1872.

Just since Hugo Chávez was first elected, there have been a lot of resolutions--I don't know how many were passed. Eyeballing them through govtrack, I figured most would come from Florida or Bob Menéndez but they are spread out (even Rick Santorum got into the act). One commonality is ideology, couched in terms of caring for the Venezuelan people. Their goal is to do something against chavistas which will then somehow make things better.

I'll be curious to see whether the targeted sanctions strategy gets legs, as it is a new component--for the most part the resolutions call for reports, dialogue, etc. As a political strategy, it sidesteps the question of how effective unilateral sanctions per se are--Cuba makes that problematic--and provides considerable flexibility. I have no idea whether President Obama will bite, but it could be tempting as a way to show he is doing "something."


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