Pres. Ali urges US to relook at lifting of sanctions against Venezuela

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali

Making it clear that Guyana is engaging all its allies, including the United States (US), on the threat Venezuela poses to Guyana and the region, President Dr. Irfaan Ali also urged the US to relook at its current policy of lifting sanctions against the Spanish-speaking country, during an interview with US-based news network CNN.

The Head of State on Wednesday said the hemisphere cannot afford another situation like the one currently occurring in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia over a year ago.

President Ali urged the United States to take Venezuela’s threats seriously, possibly even relook at sanctions against Venezuela, which it has steadily been easing throughout the year on condition that the Nicolas Maduro regime allows free and fair elections and releases unjustly held political prisoners.

“So, this is one school of thought: that a lot of this has to do with the internal politics of Venezuela, and President Maduro trying to distract from the internal politics. But that is Venezuela’s issue,” President Ali said during the interview.

“What he is doing is creating a direct threat to Guyana, and working towards creating instability in the region. And I think the US ought to take this into consideration. We expect the President Biden administration would look at the behaviour of Venezuela in relation to the sanctions themselves,” President Ali said.

President Ali noted that Guyana is working hard at the diplomatic level, engaging a number of regional allies on military support. Additionally, organizations such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are also being engaged.

“We’re working at a diplomatic level. We’ve engaged a number of our allies and friends within the region in relation to defence cooperation. The Department of Defense of the United States and the Guyana Defence Force, they have a very elaborate cooperation pact. They are fully engaged on this matter,” the President said.

“We’re engaging State Department. We’re engaging the White House. President Lula and myself had conversations. CELAC, Caricom, Commonwealth and the OAS, they’re all engaged on this matter, so they can weigh in in ensuring that Venezuela does not act in a reckless or adventurous manner,” he disclosed.

According to President Ali, Guyana continues to engage the United States Army Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) as well as the US Department of Defense and the US State Department. He was hopeful that within the next 24 hours, “a lot of strong statements and strong communication to Venezuela will be released.

“Caricom has issued a very strong statement. The OAS has issued very strong statements. Commonwealth has issued very strong statement. We are working now with CELAC so that CELAC can issue a very strong statement,” President Ali said.

“I think President Lula also sent a team to Venezuela to have discussions with Maduro and his team. And that team came back, and what we saw is that Brazil has increased their presence on their border with Venezuela. President Lula has given assurance that Brazil stands strongly with Guyana. And they would not see any reckless behaviour by Venezuela.”

On Tuesday, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said in a tweet that the US was not satisfied with the pace at which Venezuela was releasing Venezuelan and American prisoners who were unjustly imprisoned on trumped up political charges. In that tweet, he had said that the US was already reviewing the lifting of sanctions.

“Due to lack of significant progress by Nicolas Maduro and his representatives on the release of wrongfully detained U.S. nationals and Venezuelan political prisoners, the U.S. is reviewing our sanctions’ relief as we assess what progress has been made,” Miller had said.

Meanwhile, the former Governor of Florida, America politician John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, took to social media on Wednesday, saying, “The Biden Administration should make clear that any effort by Venezuela to take Guyana territory will be responded to by the US militarily.”

Other senior officials made similar remarks.