Nineteen House Democrats wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday calling on the Biden administration to remove all sanctions against Venezuela, arguing that the "maximum pressure" campaign against the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro hasn't worked.
Members of Congress who signed the letter include Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair fo the House Progressive Caucus.
"By any measure, the current 'maximum pressure' policy towards Venezuela has been a total failure," read the letter.
The lawmakers asked the Biden Administration to "immediately lift all U.S. financial and sectoral sanctions that exacerbate the humanitarian crisis" and "most urgently, the U.S. should reverse the Trump ban that prohibits Venezuela from exchanging crude oil for diesel, thereby hindering food production and distribution."
The members of Congress recommend that Biden "engage in direct dialogue with the Maduro government while maintaining strong diplomatic pressure in opposition to Maduro’s human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions."
The group of Democrats also wrote that Biden should "engage in dialogue with a broader array of political actors in Venezuela, including moderate opposition sectors that are not aligned with Juan Guaidó and moderate chavista sectors that are critical of the Maduro government."
According to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. government currently recognizes Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.
In the letter, the lawmakers argued that the Trump administration’s "ill-conceived policies have only exacerbated the crisis and damaged U.S. credibility throughout the region.”
Grijalva said the Biden Administration "must abandon Trump's failed and destructive policies that only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis" in Venezuela.
“We can and must move from a sanctions-driven approach to one of constructive dialogue that brings in opposition actors who want a democratic, political solution, rather than a strategy of overthrow, violence, and collective punishment," he said in a press release.
Garcia echoed Grijalva's stance on the issue.
“Our policy towards Venezuela promotes suffering, not democracy. Venezuelans already face the effects of a political crisis, an economic collapse, and the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "Crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration make a difficult situation even worse. We must take immediate action to lift the sanctions harming vulnerable Venezuelans.”