In a perpetuation of Trump administration policy and nearly two centuries of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, told senators Tuesday that the United States will continue to recognize the coup leader Juan Guaidó as legitimate president of Venezuela.
Reuters reports Blinken told senators during his confirmation hearing that Venezuela needs "an effective policy that can restore... democracy" to the nation of 28 million people.
Regime change with the most “diverse cabinet in history”:
“Biden would seek to “more effectively target” sanctions on [Venezuela], which aim to oust President Nicolas Maduro...” https://t.co/3RZnwKhuDP
— Nick Estes (@nickwestes) January 20, 2021
Although Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has alienated allies and adversaries alike with his government's numerous and serious human rights violations, he was democratically elected in 2013, and reelected in 2018.
Blinken also told the senators that the Biden administration would seek to "more effectively target" Venezuela with economic sanctions, which have been described as a form of "economic terrorism."
Blinken went so far as to say he wants even more targeted sanctions on Venezuela to really make regime enablers suffer. It's pure sadism.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) January 19, 2021
The sanctions are largely responsible for the crippling of Venezuela's once-thriving economy and have caused tremendous suffering for the poor and working-class people whose dramatic uplift was once hailed as the great success of the Bolivarian Revolution launched under the late President Hugo Chávez.
According to a 2019 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C., as many as 40,000 Venezuelans have died due to sanctions, which have made it much more difficult for everyday people to obtain food, medicine, and other necessities.
Creepy senator @MarcoRubio forced Anthony Blinken at his confirmation hearing to say that Biden admin would continue Trump’s failed Venezuela policy of recognizing fake “president” Guaido and not negotiating with Maduro. How about a new Good Neighbor Policy on non-interference?
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) January 19, 2021
Common Dreams reported Wednesday that the global left-wing activist group Progressive International called on the Biden administration to end sanctions on countries including Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, which the group said are targeted because "they don't fall in line" with Washington's "global political and economic agenda."
Blinken's remarks to the senators were one of a series of recent signs that the United States—which has been supporting coups and dictators in Venezuela for over a century—would stay the imperialist course under Biden.
During the contentious and sometimes calamitous transition between administrations, Republicans and Democrats alike took comfort in a policy meeting between Elliott Abrams, former President Donald Trump's special representative for Venezuelan affairs, and members of the Biden transition team.
Abrams, whose history in the region includes involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and covering up massacres committed by U.S.-backed death squads in Central America, called the meeting "pleasant" and left assured that he did not foresee any "major changes" in American policy toward Venezuela under Biden.
The inter-administration continuity was also on display in the person of Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó's ambassador to the United States, who was feted by Trump and who was Biden's inaugural guest on Wednesday.
Carlos Vecchio "is responsible for leading his own assault on his home country’s democracy – and is currently wanted in Venezuela for inciting a violent attack on the Attorney General’s office in Caracas."https://t.co/kqHvrGBAjw
— VSC (@VenSolidarity) January 20, 2021
In 2014, Vecchio—one of the masterminds of the Guaidó coup—was charged in Caracas with public incitement, property damage, arson, and conspiracy for an attack on the Venezuelan attorney general's office. His appearance at the U.S. Capitol two weeks after Biden condemned the deadly Trump-inspired mob attack on the building did not go unnoticed.
"Vecchio's presence at the presidential swearing-in ceremony was filled with irony," wrote journalist Anya Parampil. "In the days following the Capitol riot, Biden and his allies have denounced the violent takeover of Congress as an assault on democracy, with the incoming president himself declaring the rioters to be domestic terrorists.'"
"Yet," she added, "Carlos Vecchio, the Guaidó ally with a fresh ticket to Biden's inauguration, is responsible for leading his own assault on his home country's democracy."