Why Venezuela should not be added to the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism?


1.       A ban on arms-related exports and sales

1.           In the first place, the United States will lose total control of the sector, as the Venezuelan government would be incentivized to replace its US imported arsenal with another technology. Supply of US arm-related items under strict standards could protect Venezuelans against repression and prevent a potential internal and/or regional armed conflict.

2.           Venezuela’s armed forces still use American technology. It is complicated to replace it. This process may take several years as it requires massive training programs and extra investment to successfully achieve the adjustment, among other practical aspects.

3.           In case the United States decides to terminate arms-related relations with Venezuela, the government will have an excuse to buy technology from Russia, China and Iran, countries with geopolitical interests not only in Venezuela but in the entire hemisphere. This is a security threat to the United States since none of those three countries operate under democratic standards.

4.           In the second place, the United States would be giving away a market and losing whatever is left of its influence –in terms of doctrines and relationship- in the Venezuelan Armed Forces.

2.       A terrorist with a Venezuelan passport and US visa will be able to enter the country

 5.           Current “nationals” from the three countries designated (Iran, Sudan, and Syria) can travel to the United States just as an alien with a Venezuelan passport will be able to enter the United States, if he/she has a valid visa.

6.           As a result, if this measure is aimed at preventing Venezuelan passport holders from entering the United States, the goal will not be achieved. General immigration bans against Iran, Sudan, Syria or any other country are not constitutional, according to recent judicial decisions.

3.       Controls over exports of dual-use items

7.           Venezuela is not required to be included in this list to receive special treatment. The United States could implement different controls unilaterally.

4.       Prohibitions on economic assistance

8.           Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the ongoing economic crisis. The United States would abandon its leadership role in support of Venezuela’s economic recovery.

5.       Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions

9.           Prohibition to U.S. firms from engaging in financial transactions with PDVSA and other state-owned companies would lead to immediate chaos in Venezuela and energy-related problems in the United States, which depends to certain extent on Venezuelan commodities.

10.         Tax and other transactional obstacles for Venezuelan firms in the United States could kill what is left of the Venezuelan private sector.

11. On the other hand, Russia and China are financially sustaining Venezuela’s government. It is unlikely that current government will ask for loans at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

12. Any type of embargo against Venezuela threatens the stability of the entire region. Chaos could even lead to a humanitarian problem in the United States, caused by mass emigration of Venezuelans, fleeing from a country in total collapse.

Socio-political implications

13. Sanctions against Venezuela entails sanctions against all Venezuelans. This measure will certainly backfire at the socio-political level. It would be the perfect excuse for the government to victimize itself and to find grounds for polarization. It would be a mistake to unify the nation around a wrong nationalistic cause and provoke domestic and international condemnations against the United States.


 1.           The United States could deny visas and entry into the country to holders of Venezuelan passports who do not speak Spanish. US authorities could carry out discretionary interrogation of suspicious individuals. This would help determine the individual’s native language, country of origin and real ties with Venezuela.

2.           At this moment, measures against Venezuela should not be general but take the form of targeted sanctions against officials involved in illegal activities.

3.           The United States should continue its regional and international efforts, creating awareness of the Venezuelan crisis to push a hemispheric collective reaction in defense of Venezuela’s democracy.

4.           Both targeted sanctions and international diplomacy will keep putting the Venezuelan government under pressure and may force them to agree upon a negotiated transition.

5.           Chavismo is experiencing internal divisions. Both targeted sanctions and international diplomacy could boost the expected split. This will be particularly relevant for the rest of 2017 and 2018, when the regional, the municipal and the presidential elections should take place. As a result of said differences within Chavismo, those legitimate leaders excluded from power positions may be willing to negotiate a transition.

6.           December 2018 is the deadline provided by the Venezuelan constitution for the activation of the electoral mechanism. Any extreme measure by the United States before the constitutional deadline, such as including Venezuela in this list, could help the government remain in power indefinitely and strengthen its ties with enemies of the United States of America.


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