Are sanctions against Venezuela the right move?

The US has reacted to Venezuela's controversial election with financial sanctions, accusing President Nicolás Maduro of wanting to change the constitution in a bid to grant himself dictatorial powers. US citizens have been banned from doing business with the leader and sanctions on the oil sector are also under consideration. Europe's press is at odds over whether foreign powers should get involved at all.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Appeals aren't enough

Die Presse wants tougher sanctions:

“It's hard to imagine that Venezuela will find a way out of this spiral that has led the country to ruin on its own. Appeals from abroad alone ceased to be effective long ago. An embargo on Venezuelan oil exports and above all adding a few more regime representatives to the US sanctions list is more likely to bring the Venezuelan leadership to the negotiating table than verbal condemnations which President Maduro can use for his anti-imperialism rhetoric.”

Público (PT) /

The less interference, the better

Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos criticises European media coverage of the situation in Venezuela in Público:

“This is a distortion of reality that is using every means possible to demonise a legitimately elected government, add fuel to the social and political fire and justify foreign intervention with unforeseeable consequences. … The mistakes and errors of a democratic government must be resolved through democratic means - and the less intervention from abroad, the better and the more consistent. … Nothing justifies the climate of rebellion that the opposition has intensified in recent weeks and which is aimed not at correcting the mistakes of the Bolivarian Revolution but at abolishing it completely - in order to impose neoliberal models along with all that that entails for the penniless majority in Venezuela.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Economic sanctions too risky

Any sanctions that would affect Venezuela's oil industry would be dangerous, De Volkskrant argues:

“Maduro must go, but he won't go of his own accord. The US, as the biggest importer of Venezuelan oil, has rightly announced sanctions against officials suspected of corruption and oppression. US President Trump is considering even harsher measures: a boycott on Venezuelan oil. This, however, would be unwise because it would mainly affect the people. At the same time it would give Maduro's propaganda portraying America as an imperialist force of evil a touch of legitimacy. Instead Maduro must be isolated politically by the neighbouring states and compelled to conduct negotiations.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

New socialism same as the old version

For Svenska Dagbladet it is no coincidence that Venezuela is moving towards a dictatorship:

“This is the natural result of the values underlying the Bolivarian Revolution - the project launched by Hugo Chávez and aimed at spreading 21st century socialism throughout Latin America. But it turns out that the difference between 21st century socialism and the socialism of other times isn't that great. The nationalisation of companies led to poverty, the government's determination to maintain its grip on power led to oppression, the economy has been ruined. … At the same time the rule of law is dying. … If the president begins to make changes to the constitution that neither the opposition nor those abroad regard as legitimate, a conflict with a peaceful solution could result. Socialism remains what it always was. The people of Venezuela can confirm that.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The people have not spoken

The election was a sham serving only to preserve Maduro's grip on power, the Süddeutsche Zeitung concludes:

“ In 2015, in the last elections worthy of the name, Maduro's opponents won two-thirds of the seats in the real National Assembly. So the people of Venezuela have long since delivered their verdict on this three-quarters dictator at the polls. … With Sunday's so-called election he will create a new parliament for himself. One more suited to his needs. There are only three things that could prompt Maduro to rethink his strategy in the short-term: a military revolt; tough sanctions imposed by the country's biggest petrol customers, the US and China; or the realisation that he is leading a once rich country to its doom. The final option is the one we should bet on first.”

The Times (GB) /

Time for sanctions

The Times fears the situation in the country will radically deteriorate once again:

“Venezuela's chaos is of international concern. The flow of refugees into Colombia and even across the sea to Trinidad may turn into a migrant crisis destabilising the region. Caracas has been suspended from Mercosur, the regional trading group. If Mr Maduro's path to dictatorship continues, the region should kick it out of the Organisation of American States. Colombia has rightly already said it will not recognise Mr Maduro's constituent assembly. ... The splintered opposition must unite and resolve to publicly shun not only the hapless Mr Maduro but also the whole populist legacy of Hugo Chavez. The alternative is a spiralling descent and a modern tragedy.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Problems rooted in the past

La Stampa believes Venezuela's ruin is rooted in the Bolivarian Revolution launched by the country's deceased president Hugo Chávez:

“How to explain the fact that Venezuela, one of the Latin American countries with the greatest economic potential, is on the verge of ruin, with four out of five families now living below the poverty line? A country whose oil reserves are even vaster than those of the Saudis? The explanation lies entirely in the weakness of the 'socialist' process, which was built on the sole foundation of the petrodollar. When oil prices plummeted from 100 dollars per barrel to less than half that amount, the social state collapsed but the projects and investments that the deceased President Chávez had established with (genuinely Bolivarian) ambition for Venezuela and other South American countries such as Cuba, remained unchanged.”