Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Response to Venezuela Sanctions

Evo Morales criticized U.S. sanctions against Venezuela in a speech at the G-77+China meetings. Telesur says it was on behalf of the organization, though for some reason the G-77 website doesn't mention it anywhere despite mentioning other recent speeches. So I don't have a full text.

One obvious question is whether Venezuela "replaces" Cuba in the sanction department, serving as an obstacle to better U.S.-Latin American relations. It's possible, but I tend to doubt it. I do not think Latin American leaders view Venezuela the same way they do Cuba, and in any even the sanctions are microscopic in Venezuela compared to Cuba.

There is talk of the U.S. being hypocritical as it eases sanctions in one country and imposes them in another. In symbolic terms, perhaps this is true. In strictly strategic terms, however, it's not. The strategic problem with Cuba sanctions was how strict they were--the U.S. effectively removed all its leverage. Counterintuitively, the U.S. has more influence by reducing them, if only because they can be re-imposed. The Venezuela sanctions are pretty focused and at least in theory more pressure can be applied. As I've written before, I don't think it'll work that way, but that's at least the strategic idea.

Overall, my hunch is that Latin American leaders will respond to the changes in Cuba policy. They will rightfully make speeches against the Venezuela sanctions, but will simultaneously view the U.S. (and especially President Obama himself) more favorably.


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