Sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua

LANKFORD: Father, guide us. We need Your help. Controversy, the division in our nation, the anger, the struggle… help us to be able to love one another.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s Senator James Lankford offering a prayer on the Senate floor. Today is the National Day of Prayer—Thursday, the 2nd of May, 2019.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Well, tomorrow it’s The World and Everything in It Live in Dallas! We’re all so excited to meet you and give you the opportunity to meet one another.

We do have some seats still. Technically. We are told our friends at Dallas Baptist University are pulling out some folding chairs. And last time we checked, it appeared that we can still accommodate 10 more people without getting the fire marshal’s attention.

EICHER: Well, he can come, too. If he hurries.

So if you’d like a padded, folding chair seat, go to Look to the top for the Engage pull-down menu, then find “Live Events,” click, and follow the directions. It will say “sold out” if we hit capacity. But, as Mary said, and we just checked, there are 10. So if you’re coming, we’ll see you tomorrow. It’s gonna be great.

REICHARD: Ok, next up: putting the financial squeeze on Latin American dictators.

Venezuela is in a mess. Socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro has turned the oil-rich nation into one from which more than 2 million starving people have fled.

Opposition leader Juan Guiadó declared himself the rightful president earlier this year. He has the backing of much of the international community, including the United States, to restore freedom. But Maduro has so far resisted all calls to step down.

EICHER: To step up the pressure, the Trump administration is using economics: an oil embargo, enforced sanctions on Maduro’s family and wealthy supporters, as well as sanctions on Venezuela’s allies in the Western Hemisphere: the leaders of Nicaragua and Cuba.

In April, the Trump administration announced more sanctions on the leaders of all three nations.

But will economic pressure be enough to bring these authoritarian regimes down? WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

REPORTER, SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: This week, thousands of Venezuelan protesters took to the streets to demand Nicolas Maduro leave office.

Both President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted their support for the protesters. But the Trump administration has another tool to ratchet up pressure on the regime.

The White House is slowly increasing economic sanctions on Maduro and his Latin American allies: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Cuba’s Castro regime.

Speaking to Cuban Americans in Miami late last month, National Security Adviser John Bolton unveiled new sanctions against what he calls the “troika of tyranny.”

BOLTON: I’m also pleased to announce new sanctions against the central bank of Venezuela to restrict U.S. transactions with this bank and prohibit its access to U.S. dollars.

He also announced restrictions on a Nicaraguan financial institution and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s son. He joins his father and Vice President Rosario Murillo on the U.S. blacklist.

But Bolton reserved the most penalties for Cuba.

BOLTON: The Cuban regime has spread its ideological influence into Venezuela and throughout Maduro’s regime.

New economic sanctions target Cuba’s military and intelligence. The administration will also restrict tourism to Cuba and cap the amount of money Cuban Americans can send to relatives on the island.

It will also crack down on Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba. Mark Jones is a political scientist at the Baker Institute. He says those shipments are how Maduro pays for Cuba’s backing and how Cuba keeps fuel prices low.

JONES: Cuba has heavily depended on effectively free oil from Venezuela for many years dating back to Hugo Chavez’s tenure. And if they were somehow to disappear, uh, Cuba would be in very dire straits.

Finally, John Bolton said the U.S. will allow Cuban Americans to sue foreign companies doing business on property seized after the Cuban revolution.

The Baker Institute’s Mark Jones says this will discourage foreign companies from doing business on the island.

JONES: Just the simple threat of legal complications could lead many companies to decide that it’s best… let’s just hold off on that Cuban investment. Instead, invest in a hotel in Brazil or in the Cayman Islands or in South Africa.

But experts disagree on the lasting effect slow economic sanctions will have on the trio. All three nations continue to get support from China and Russia.

Ana Quintana is a Latin American foreign policy expert with the Heritage Foundation. She argues the economic sanctions are working in Venezuela.

QUINTANA: The Maduro that we’re seeing now who’s up against the ropes, who’s in a very delicate situation, has largely been because of these sanctions. When you take away their illicitly obtained money, when you take away these homes, you are removing their options and you’re also limiting their potential for staying in power.

When it comes to Cuba, Mark Jones says the Castro regime has survived sanctions before and will most likely survive again.

JONES: The United States has been trying to overthrow the Cuban government for 50 years and has not yet succeeded. So I don’t think this is going to push things over the top in Cuba.

And he says the sanctions on Nicaragua are largely symbolic.

JONES: The sanctions on Nicaragua are so minute that they’re unlikely to have any real effect.

The Heritage Foundation’s Anna Quintana argues the U.S. sanctions would be more effective if more nations followed suit.

QUINTANA: We should be considering how much illicit money do these guys have in Panama, for example, how much money do they have in Spain? Other countries ought to be replicating the U.S. sanction regime. I mean there’s still a lot that can be done.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s permanent representative to the United Nations, addresses the media during a news conference at the United Nations, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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