In large part because of the recent Human Rights Watch report, the U.S. Congress is moving closer to imposing targeted sanctions on Venezuela. Sensing an issue that might make conservatives forget about his support for immigration reform, Senator Marco Rubio is leading the charge. This quote jumped out at me:
Rubio says ways to best apply economic pressure will be discussed at the hearing.
"We're looking to target individuals in the government or associated with the government," he said. "We're not penalizing the Venezuelan people."What he is saying, then, is that Cuba sanctions penalize the Cuban people. If Cuba sanctions were as good as he claims they are, then wouldn't he want to impose the same on Venezuela? He says Venezuela is a dictatorship, which means it is the same as Cuba, which means an embargo would work perfectly. Right? Bueller?
Regardless, chances are very high (I'd say at least 90%) that sanctions will pass. The greatest thing about these proposed sanctions is that they don't cost anything, especially since they will no impact on Americans' ability to consume Venezuelan oil. Plus, of course, they play to the most active voters in Florida, so both parties can benefit (or at least don't want the other to benefit by their own inaction).
On the flip side, chances are very low that sanctions will achieve their stated goals. They may well achieve their unstated goal of annoying Nicolás Maduro, who probably is already concocting new speeches about cabals, imperialism, fascism, little birds, and ghosts. As I've written before, it would be nice to take a look and see how well these same sanctions have worked elsewhere, such as Russia. I don't have much faith in that, as members of Congress just want to be seen as taking action even if that action is substantively meaningless.