Let Time and Not Sanctions Remove Venezuela’s Marxist Dictator

Aug.11, 2017
by Bob Adelmann

The Free Dictionary’s attempt to define the idiom “patience is a virtue” almost perfectly fits the personality style of America’s president:

Fred: The doctor has kept us waiting for half an hour! If he doesn’t call us into his office pretty soon, I may do something violent!

Ellen: Calm down, dear. Patience is a virtue.

One is tempted to change Fred’s name to Donald!

After all, he is the one who sanctioned Marxist dictator Nicolas Maduro last week and then added another 13 more to the list a few days later. On Wednesday he increased the total to nearly 30, this time sanctioning, among others, deceased Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez’s elder brother, Adan Chavez.

How’s that working for you, Mr. President? Ask Maduro himself. When Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the new sanctions, Maduro told him to “sanction anybody you want,” it doesn’t matter. Maduro gave raises and promotions to those on Trump’s list!

One of those sanctioned, Francisco Ameliach, said they wouldn’t affect his “Bolivarian, anti-imperialist and deeply Chavista principles.”

Senator Marco Rubio not only favors sanctions, but wants Trump to increase them: “I support the president sanctioning these corrupt Maduro regime officials.” He thinks they ought to be stepped up, including economic sanctions on the country’s primary source of revenue, its state-owned oil company: “The time has now come for the president to act on his promise to impose significant economic sanctions on the illegitimate Maduro dictatorship.”

In theory, sanctions inflict pain and punishment that should result in a change in behavior. In theory. The idea is that sanctions, if they are severe enough, would cause discontent and divisions in Maduro’s administration, weakening it and setting the stage for a rebellion of some kind.

In reality they result in a hardening of attitudes. Much like Londoners when Hitler stepped up the bombing of their city in hopes it would soften them to accept terms of surrender, it further steeled them against the tyrant’s threat.

Such a view was expressed by Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue:

The theory is that these sanctions will intimidate senior officials in the government, will help create divisions, and will help nudge [Maduro’s government] towards some kind of transitional arrangement to resolve the crisis.

But there is no sign they are succeeding in the way that the U.S. had hoped.

Instead, those sanctions are being considered as “badges of honor” bestowed by the U.S. on Maduro’s thugs!

Is there another way? Most certainly. The way of time and patience. Maduro’s government is facing economic reality: more than $5 billion in interest and principal is due and payable on the country’s massive and unpayable debt of $150 billion between now and the end of the year. But at present Maduro has less than $10 billion in foreign reserves and $7 billion of that is in gold. One can do the math. His oil company’s revenues upon which he depends for more than 90 percent of his spending has dropped precipitously in the last couple of years, partly due to the drop in the price of oil and party due to his replacing the engineers and technicians at PDVSA with political cronies who have no idea of how to run the place.

When he defaults, as surely he must even if he is able to procure more financing from China and Cuba, his oil company’s assets will be seized and that revenue stream will end. And so will Maduro’s regime.

Patience, in this case at least, will indeed prove to be a virtue. 

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An Ivy League graduate and former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at badelmann@thenewamerican.com.

Sources:

The Free Dictionary: Patience is a virtue idioms

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Sanctions Venezuelans It Said Helped Form Assembly

Reuters: U.S. sanctions eight more Venezuelan officials, including Chavez brother

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