Press Release Latin America and the Caribbean Sanctions US Foreign Policy Venezuela World

House Democrats Worried that Migration Surge Caused by US Sanctions Could Cost Them in 2024

May 10, 2023

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-293-5380 x104Mail_Outline

Venezuelans and Cubans hurt by sanctions-caused damage are a rapidly increasing proportion of migration to the US over the past year

Washington, DC — The Washington Post reported today that House Democrats from border states are urging President Biden “to put an end to Trump-era sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela that have battered those countries’ economies and contributed to a surge of migrants at the southern border of the United States.”

“We don’t know what will happen in the 2024 elections, but Republicans will certainly make immigration an issue; and there is no doubt that the economic destruction caused by US economic sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba is a major contributor to the upsurge in migration from these countries,” said Mark Weisbrot, economist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor under President Obama, has affirmed that “US sanctions on Venezuela are contributing, significantly, to the desperation that Venezuelans feel.… We turn up these sanctions so high that it’s driving all these people to our border… these broad-based sanctions that are just punishing these people …”

A new CEPR report, “The Human Consequences of Economic Sanctions,” by Venezuelan opposition economist Francisco Rodríguez, a leading expert on the Venezuelan economy, found that sanctions generally cause serious harm to the population of targeted countries, including Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Iran, three case studies examined in the report.

“The evidence shows that economic sanctions lead to declines in income and life expectancy similar to those in armed conflicts, making them one of the deadliest weapons used by western powers,” Rodríguez noted, and explained also in the Financial Times on May 4.

Weisbrot has noted that US sanctions against Venezuela would violate the Geneva convention prohibitions against collective punishment. United Nations experts have argued that something that is a war crime when there is a war taking place should also be prohibited when there is no declared war.

“The sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba are indefensible but have received relatively little attention here because most people don’t know how many people are killed by them — tens of thousands, or even more, in Venezuela,” said Weisbrot.

“But now that the connection between the recent upsurge of migrants from Venezuela and Cuba and these economic sanctions is established, the sanctions could be a serious political issue, for as long as they remain in place.”


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