This article details the effects that President Trump’s sanctions on Venezuelan oil have had on the country. President Trump first enacted the sanctions in an attempt to oust President Maduro from power. The Venezuelan people have been victims to humanitarian abuses at the hands of Maduro, which is why the U.S. has elected to place sanctions on the country. These sanctions have not had the effect that President Trump had hoped for. It seems as if they have plunged the Venezuelan people further into a humanitarian disaster. Russian oil investing firm Rosneft has undercut U.S. sanctions by offering to increase its output in Venezuela, allowing Maduro’s government to continue to survive. Because the Venezuelan oil companies are closed off from the rest of the international market, they will have to sell their crude oil at a much cheaper price. Those with wealth in the country will continue to get richer while the poor bear the brunt of the burden.
In this block, we discussed the role that sanctions can play in compelling or deterring a certain action in the target country. Sanctions are only effective if the threat that they make is credible and effective in changing the target’s preference. In this situation, President Maduro’s preference is to remain in power. President Trump’s sanctions would be effective if they were able to make him change his preference to meet U.S. interests. It is important to remember that every country has a different pain tolerance. A country’s form of government influences this. Because President Maduro’s government is an illiberal democracy, it allows him to push the negative effects of the sanctions down to his people. He is therefore minimally affected by them and can remain in power. In order to be more effective, the U.S. should consider applying smart sanctions on Venezuela, referring to those which will target President Maduro directly while leaving the citizens of Venezuela minimally affected.