Democrats Ask Biden Admin To Lift Sanctions On Venezuela

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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A group of Democratic lawmakers wrote to the Biden administration Thursday to ask that it lifts sanctions on Venezuela, a country run by one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, NBC News first reported.

The Democrats wrote specifically to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, praising the Biden administration for getting U.S. prisoners released from Venezuela but asking them to do more. The lawmakers also ask for the State Department to reestablish diplomatic relations with Caracas.

“Given the high costs of the crisis for the Venezuelan people and the hemisphere broadly, we believe it is imperative that the Administration respond to this opportunity by empowering the Venezuelan people who are seeking to rebuild their country and their future,” the letter reads, according to NBC. “Because we share your view that human rights should be at the center of U.S. foreign policy, we have been deeply troubled by the extensive reporting on the indiscriminate and counterproductive impacts on the Venezuelan people of the secondary and sectoral sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration.”

The lead authors of the letter are Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern and California Rep. Barbara Lee. Both Meeks and Castro sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with Meeks serving as the Ranking Member.

The letter asks for a follow up on a billion-dollar fund of frozen money by the U.S. and Europe to be used on social aid for the Venezuelan people. It also asks the administration what steps would need to be taken to reopen embassies and consulates in the two countries.

Venezuela ordered all American diplomatic staff to leave the country in 2019 after former President Donald Trump’s administration recognized then-opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader, rather than dictator Nicolas Maduro. Then, commercial flights from the U.S. to Venezuela were suspended, and the Trump administration continued with a “maximum pressure” campaign advocated for by many Venezuelans who have fled to the U.S. (RELATED: Biden Taps Oil From Communist Dictatorship After Rejecting Cleaner Fuel From US Ally)

Biden’s administration has said it is willing to lift some sanctions if Maduro allows for free and fair elections in the country. Despite increased dialogue between the two sides compared to the Trump administration, most sanctions remain in place.

In total, seven million Venezuelans have fled their country over the past decade to escape Maduro’s authoritarian rule, with many ending up in the United States.