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Chairman Menendez Statement on Biden Administration’s Changes to Venezuela Policy

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the Biden administration’s changes to U.S. policy towards the Maduro Regime in Venezuela:

“From Tehran to Havana to Pyongyang, history shows us negotiations based on unilateral concessions have a failed track record of producing actual changes to the behavior of authoritarian regimes. Giving Maduro a handful of undeserved handouts just so his regime will promise to sit down at a negotiating table is a strategy destined to fail. The United States should only consider recalibrating sanctions in response to concrete steps in negotiations, not simply in response to cheap talk from a criminal dictator. The onus for action is on Maduro, and the last thing we should be doing is giving him a ‘well done’ prize as opposed to sending his murderous regime a “do better” message in exchange for relief. We have placed the effectiveness of our sanctions on the line without clearly defining the parameters of what we expect in a final agreement.

“As the author of the VERDAD Act, I believe firmly in the need for a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan crisis. But, negotiations that start from a foundation of U.S. concessions ignore the cold, hard facts about the Maduro regime and its history of abusing negotiations to strengthen its political position. For nearly a decade, Maduro has destroyed his country, killed and tortured Venezuelans by the thousands, and unleashed a wave of unbridled criminality and humanitarian catastrophe that has destabilized our hemisphere. Those who lament the United States’ and our allies’ dependence on foreign oil because it enriches regimes in terrorist states like Russia, should not have a double standard when it comes to enriching a brutal dictatorship like Venezuela.

“I will use the strength of my voice and power of my office to ensure U.S. policy for dealing with murderous tyrants does not betray our values to reward bad behavior. The Biden administration must refrain from lifting any additional sanctions until Maduro makes concrete concessions at the negotiating table. Moreover, the United States cannot afford to provide the regime with any more handouts until Maduro releases the remaining American citizens currently being held hostage in Caracas.”