Almost one year since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, United States sanctions policy toward Venezuela has yet to be formally reviewed. Worse, enforcement has been almost non-existent. Venezuelan oil exports have greatly increased this year, calling into question the overarching goal of limiting oil revenue for Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
On Nov. 13, crude oil output surpassed 900 thousand barrels per day, an amount not seen since March 2020. The Maduro government has become quite skillful at avoiding, if not completely dodging, current sanctions. Specifically, it has circumvented controls by using phantom traders to move crude with untraceable ships routed from Venezuela to China.
As the Maduro regime manipulates a homemade economic and humanitarian disaster, and navigates increasing international isolation, environmental standards, sustainability and climate action are seemingly absent.
Diplomatic efforts and numerous international agencies are rightly focused on Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis and human rights issues. Meanwhile, a massive environmental crisis is being largely ignored. But can critical environmental issues be forced onto the agenda? Linking them with sanctions policy, though seemingly incongruous, may offer an opportunity.