US lawmaker says sanctions cause ‘devastation’
With the Biden administration considering lifting sanctions on Venezuela in exchange for oil, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MInnesota) has called on the White House to recognize “the devastation that our sanctions have had on the people.” Biden has also heavily penalized Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, but Omar insists that these measures won’t work.
A White House delegation traveled to Caracas over the weeked to explore the possibility of lifting sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s government in exchange for Venezuelan oil. President Joe Biden’s decision on Tuesday to ban Russian oil imports has since increased the urgency with which his administration must secure an alternative supply.
Speaking to The Hill on Tuesday, Omar said she was “glad” that some moves were being made toward easing sanctions on the South American state.
"I do hope that when [members of the US delegation] are there, that they do get to have a conversation with the Venezuelan people and see the devastation that our sanctions have had on the people and get to realize that, you know, our crippling sanctions on Venezuela hasn't weakened Maduro's position," Omar said.
Omar said she hoped the trip would "get rid of this notion that somehow crippling sanctions will lead to regime change and uprising…that they will ultimately have a democracy."
"It hasn't happened in Cuba. It hasn't happened in Iran. It certainly hasn't happened in Venezuela," she added.
The imposition of sanctions on Venezuela crippled the country’s economy, and according to the UN, has caused tens of thousands of deaths.
The US and its European allies have applied a similar strategy with regard to Moscow, making Russia the world’s most sanctioned nation in the two weeks since fighting broke out in Ukraine. Biden has explicitly stated that the US intends to “crater” the Russian economy, and Washington’s efforts have been compounded by scores of Western companies ceasing operations in or with Russia, and by the US, UK and EU targeting the foreign currency reserves of Russia’s central bank.
The Kremlin has accused Washington of declaring “economic war against Russia.”
A rare opponent of the White House’s response to the Ukraine conflict, Omar said that she would vote against a bill codifying Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports and the expansion of sanctions against Russia.
"Look, I support sanctions on Putin and his allies," said Omar, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But do I think that the broad-based sanctions that we are imposing on Russia [are] going to have a devastating impact on Putin? No. I think they're going to have a devastating impact on the people."
“We can't continue to deploy the same playbook that has failed us over and over again," she added.