Fernando Blasi, the new envoy for Venezuela’s US-backed opposition, is calling on the Biden administration to ease crippling sanctions on Venezuela, saying not doing so could turn the country into another Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo since 1962.
“If we continue down this path, Venezuela is destined to be another Cuba,” Blasi said. “It will become an issue for politicians in Florida to win elections … That would be an extremely sad destiny for a country.”
Blasi said sanctions relief could provide much-needed relief for ordinary Venezuelans and incentivize President Nicolas Maduro to make concessions to the opposition related to the upcoming 2024 election. “We have to begin now with a coherent plan whereby we give something and the government reciprocates,” he said.
Blasi’s position is a departure from what the opposition wanted when it was led by Juan Guaido, who declared himself the “interim president” of Venezuela in January 2019. Guaido was backed by the US and favored foreign intervention and crippling sanctions on his country, losing him what little support he had.
At the end of 2022, the US-backed opposition voted to remove Guaido as the interim president and dissolved the “interim government,” which never had any real power besides access to some of Venezuela’s offshore assets and foreign embassies.
The current sanctions on Venezuela were implemented by the Trump administration as part of its failed regime change effort. So far, the Biden administration has granted Chevron a limited license to start pumping oil in Venezuela but hasn’t removed any other sanctions.