Democrats are clashing with Biden over sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela. But they have to get past the hawks in their own party, first, mainly, the powerful senator, Robert Menendez.

by Daniel Larison, Responsible Statecraft

A group of House Democrats wrote a letter to President Biden last week urging him to reverse Trump-era sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba. In the letter, which was organized by Reps. Veronica Escobar and Raul Grijalva, they identified the economic damage wrought by sanctions as one of the important factors driving the current migration crisis.

The signatories were a mix of Democrats from southern border states and progressives from other regions. They made a damning case against Washington’s use of broad sanctions against these two countries, and they appealed to Biden to provide sanctions relief on both pragmatic and moral grounds. The letter is the latest in a series of protests from members of Congress against the so-called maximum pressure campaigns that have remained in place under the Biden administration, and it shines a light on the human costs of the sanctions that so many people in Washington reflexively support.

protestors hold signs protesting the lack of medicine in Venezuela

While the focus of the letter was on the role of sanctions in contributing to the border crisis, the members also spelled out the destructive effects of economic warfare on the targeted populations and condemned these policies for their cruelty and their failure to achieve any U.S. goals. Their communication reflects a growing awareness among some members of Congress of the bankruptcy of economic warfare as a policy and their recognition that the U.S. cannot show solidarity with the people living under authoritarian regimes by starving and impoverishing them.

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