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Is The Latest U.S. Move Against Venezuela Really An Embargo?

Martin Mejia
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton in Lima, Peru, on Tuesday.

Monday night the Trump Administration announced it was slapping a “full economic embargo” on Venezuela. But the U.S.’s latest move against the socialist regime in Caracas isn’t quite what it’s being billed as.

When we hear “embargo” we think of the complete blockage of U.S. trade with Cuba the past 57 years. What President Trump has levied against Venezuela is in reality just a tightening of economic sanctions against its authoritarian socialist regime.

It freezes any Venezuelan government property or assets in the U.S. – like the Citgo oil refinery company – and it prohibits any U.S. trade with that government. Otherwise it threatens U.S. sanctions against anyone who still does business with the Venezuelan regime, like Russia and China.

But it’s unclear how deep the impact will be. The U.S. already does negligible trade with the Venezuelan state. And it’s far from certain the U.S. will be able to prevent Russia’s and China’s access to Venezuelan oil, which is state-controlled.

Still, in Peru meeting with representatives of 50 other nations to discuss restoring democracy in Venezuela, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton touted the move: “The U.S. is acting aggressively to cut off [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro financially.”