The US blocked an effort by Venezuela to request a review of US sanctions at the World Trade Organization on Friday. Venezuela hoped to challenge crippling economic sanctions that froze the country out of the world financial system on the grounds that they breached global trading rules.
The move demonstrates that President Biden is pursuing the same hardline policies towards Venezuela as the Trump administration. US Trade Representative spokesman Adam Hodge said the request was “illegitimate” since it was made by the Maduro government, which Washington does not recognize.
In January 2019, the Trump administration recognized opposition figure Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. After a failed coup attempt and a sanctions campaign that amounts to an economic embargo, the US achieved nothing. The only thing the failed regime-change effort has done is caused ordinary Venezuelans to suffer.
“The United States will reject any effort by Maduro to misuse the WTO to attack US sanctions aimed at restoring human rights and democracy to Venezuela,” Hoge said in a statement. Another US official told Reuters that if the US allowed Venezuela to exercise rights at the WTO, it would “be tantamount to recognizing the Maduro regime itself.”
Last month, a White House official said the Biden administration is in “no rush” to lift sanctions on Venezuela. The US still recognizes Guaido despite his increasing irrelevancy.