The Trump administration is preparing to add Venezuela to the list of state sponsors of terrorism:
Republicans have long accused Venezuela of having ties to terrorist organizations. But experts have played down the threat and strength of those connections. They warn that a designation that does not offer concrete evidence could weaken the legitimacy of the U.S. list, which critics say already is applied inconsistently.
“I suspect this will be based on hearsay and sources of questionable integrity,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
The administration already showed how little it cared about the legitimacy of this list when it redesignated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism without having any proof that their government was actually sponsoring any terrorists. Adding North Korea to the list had nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with putting more pressure on their government as part of the vain effort to force their disarmament. So it isn’t all that surprising that they would abuse it again to impose more sanctions on one of the governments that Bolton included in his laughable “troika of tyranny.” Designating governments as state sponsors of terrorism has always been selective and inconsistent, and there is not much of an argument for adding Venezuela to the list. The only reason to do this is to have an excuse to impose more sanctions, and there doesn’t appear to be any good purpose served by doing that. The most likely effect of adding Venezuela to the list will be to complicate efforts to address Venezuela’s public health crises:
The possible action against Venezuela came as a surprise to people [from HHS, CDC and USAID] on the call, the official said. “That was the first we had heard of it,” the official said. “It didn’t make sense. And then it was like, ‘Oh, crap. What is this going to do to our ability to respond to the slow-moving health disaster that is coming out of Venezuela?’ ”
The Trump administration’s abuse of sanctions has become a recurring theme in its dealings with a number of other countries, and in many of these cases the administration has shown that it has no problem jeopardizing public health and the well-being of the civilian population of a targeted country. Venezuelans are already suffering through a massive humanitarian crisis, and it makes no sense for the U.S. to add to their burdens with additional sanctions that are likely to achieve nothing.