Biden Further Angers Hispanic Voters by Lifting Cuban, Venezuelan Sanctions

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Posted: May 19, 2022 3:30 PM
Biden Further Angers Hispanic Voters by Lifting Cuban, Venezuelan Sanctions

Source: AP Photo/Ismael Francisco

The Biden administration has rolled back sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela in a disastrous move being heavily criticized by Hispanic voters here in the United States—many of whom are in the U.S. because they or their families fled the socialist regimes.

President Joe Biden's administration mobilized Tuesday to ease economic sanctions against oil-rich Venezuela just one day after lifting several Trump-era financial, travel, and migration regulations for fellow socialist state Cuba, whose repressive government notoriously cracked down on the pro-democracy protests in 2021.

This week's events are being seen as a soft-on-socialism downslide in U.S. foreign policy that's dealing a damaging blow to the Democratic Party and its congressional hopefuls on the road to the 2022 midterms, sources indicated to Townhall. The outrage is especially reverberating across the free state of Florida, a refuge for freedom-loving escapees in the Sunshine State who've endured communism and all its tyrannical horrors.

"It's safe to conclude from these announcements that the Democrats plan to forfeit Florida — that much is obvious," marketing executive Giancarlo Sopo, who led former President Donald Trump's national Hispanic advertising in 2020, told Townhall. "What the Democrats may not realize is that these policy decisions will likely also hurt them with Hispanic voters beyond Cuban and Venezuelan Americans."

Sopo cited how many Colombian Americans are closely monitoring Colombia's upcoming elections where a far-left acolyte of Maduro predecessor Hugo Chavez appears likely to win the presidency. Likewise, a large number of Argentine and Chilean Americans are also concerned about their home countries drifting toward socialism, Sopo explained.

"By strengthening the socialist regimes in Havana and Caracas, the White House is bolstering the radical left across the hemisphere — and possibly driving even more Hispanic voters to the Republican Party," Sopo said.

Expressing similar sentiments, Bienvenido president Abraham Enriquez, who heads the national non-profit that promotes conservative policies in Hispanic communities, said in a statement to Townhall that the Biden administration's new Cuba and Venezuela policies are "terribly misguided" and "will likely worsen the White House's challenges with Hispanic communities across the country."

"By and large, Hispanic Americans want the U.S. to be tough on the brutal Castro and Maduro regimes, not to reward them with unilateral concessions," Enriquez told Townhall. "Strengthening those dictatorships will weaken pro-democracy allies throughout the Americas, embolden anti-American governments in countries like Nicaragua, and make our country less safe."

Cuban dissident leader Rosa Maria Paya lambasted the "incompetence shown by the [Biden] administration team" in dealing with the Cuban dictatorship, specifically calling out the White House's Juan Gonzalez, special assistant to the president serving as Biden's top Latin America aide, and the State Department's Emily Mendrala

Paya said to Townhall that the current administration "prefers complying with the demands of the dictatorship and having its seal of approval on Twitter than supporting the demands of the Cuban people."

In a declaration posted to social media Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba praised the U.S. government's new measures as "positive" and "a limited step in the right direction."

"The tweet sent out by the Cuban regime's foreign ministry supporting the White House’s new Cuba Policy is embarrassing for President Biden and proves that these measures helps the regime and not the Cuban people," Paya said.

Paya underscored that while certain aspects of the announcement, such as re-establishing the Cuban Family Reunification program, may have some benefits to the Cuban people, "make no mistake...Those are who responsible for the separation of Cuban families is the Cuban regime, not the United States," Paya added.

According to a White House transcript of a teleconference among senior Biden officials Monday, a concerned voice in the administration conveyed on the call that the Cuban regime's repression of last year's anti-government demonstrations was an authoritarian stunt for "the world to see."

"And the sentences that were imposed on people that were just singing in the streets and asking for food and to have a greater say in the future of their country really shows the situation," the U.S. official said, admitting "the lack of respect for human rights on the island." The admission was quickly glossed over. 

Responding to backlash over the new Cuban policy, the State Department tried to justify seemingly appeasing the communist government in a Monday press release issued by department spokesperson Ned Price, painting the measures as a means to provide Cubans with "additional tools to pursue a life free from Cuban government oppression and to seek greater economic opportunities."

Over in socialist-reigned Venezuela, energy giant Chevron Corp. will be permitted to discuss foreseeable work with state-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and ex-PDVSA executive Carlos Malpica-Flores, a powerful Maduro family member, who will also benefit. The nephew of Venezuela's first lady, who was once vice president of the state entity, will see his name scrubbed from the list of sanctioned individuals. Two senior U.S. government officials told The Associated Press that the change does not allow the drilling or exportation of any petroleum with Venezuelan origin.

According to U.S. officials, Tuesday's announcement softening restrictions is a geopolitical gesture intended to coax talks between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's socialist government and opposing forces backed by the U.S. On a White House-led call, Biden administration officials characterized the changes as relatively minor, noting that they are diplomatic provisions offered at the behest of Venezuelan opposition leaders who are operating a shadow government.

Biden's Treasury Department, with guidance from the Department of State, issued "a narrow license" authorizing Chevron to negotiate the terms of potential future activities regarding revitalized production in Venezuela, a U.S. official revealed to reporters, stressing that "fundamentally, what they're doing is just allowed to talk."

The license could lead to a series of steps toward oil sanctions relief depending on Maduro's cooperation, officials told The Washington Post. If negotiations resume with the goal of guaranteeing free and fair elections in 2024, the U.S. could permit Chevron to begin shipping equipment to Venezuela, according to The Washington Post. If the talks are successful, Chevron could be allowed to extract and sell Venezuelan oil.

One source familiar with the Maduro government's thinking told The Washington Post that Caracas was prepared to revisit prior dialogue and anticipated that Chevron would be able to resume operations, which would then open a door to more deals with U.S. oil interests. To common-sense skeptics, it's meaningless lip service and cheap talk from the mouths of anti-democratic actors in the West.

A U.S. official insisted to the press: "Very clearly, none of these alleviations of pressure would lead to an increase in revenue for the regime. It's basically just the license for Chevron to speak."

That's not how Hispanic Americans with roots in Venezuela are viewing the regime-friendly maneuver, one that alleviates the economic chokehold on Maduro that's engineered to compel Caracas to act in good faith. Instead, critics say that the U.S. is empowering the Maduro dictatorship, a close ally of Russia, by rewarding the Venezuelan strongman with an underserved handout that will line Maduro's pockets.

Elsewhere in war-torn Eastern Europe, Biden has been tossing billions to embattled Ukraine as an expensive ideological affront to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Americans, contending with skyrocketing gas prices, are the ones paying the toll at the pump while an oil-hungry Biden points the finger at Putin. This all after Biden hurt domestic production by killing the Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in office, an executive order that weakened American energy independence.

Calls to lessen sanctions also came from the political left on Capitol Hill. Last week, 18 House Democrats wrote to Biden, asking that he remove U.S. sanctions they argue are "one of the leading causes" of Venezuelan suffering. Placing the blame on Trump, the letter seemed to excuse Maduro's socialist policies that have caused widespread hyperinflation, poverty, and rampant crime that continue to plague Venezuela, which has been bleeding out millions of fleeing refugees over the course of its humanitarian crisis.

A two-faced Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who is seeking to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), publicly blasted Biden's shifting stance on Cuban-U.S. relations but then held a fundraiser Wednesday night with regime sympathizers Foreign Policy for America Action Network, a pro-Cuba engagement organization that applauded the Biden administration's appeasement toward the Castro/Diaz-Canel dictatorship.

"Val Demings has never cared about freedom in Cuba during her six years in Congress and never even said a word about the island until she decided to run for Senate," the Rubio campaign's Hispanic media director Laura Ortiz said in a press statement shared with Townhall. "But she does repeatedly quote Castro-apologist Jim Clyburn. Her wishy washy statement on Biden's appeasement proves she will never stand up against members of her own party who advocate for bowing down to the despotic Cuban dictatorship."

The Biden administration's recent decisions have reminded Floridians the importance of electing strong leadership that understands the complexities and nuances of U.S. foreign policy while refusing to surrender to the regime's marching orders.

Such unpopular reforms under Biden could usher in a red wave among Hispanic voters in Florida as the November midterm elections approach. Gaining the Hispanic vote aided Trump's 2020 win in the state by a large margin after he warned that Democrats would redesign the U.S. in the image of Venezuela. It was thematic imagery that frightened Hispanic families who suffered first-hand through the realities of communism all while leftists at home lionize the likes of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, whose murderous legacy is sensationalized by pop-culture enthusiasts ignorant to the militant's bloodstains on Cuban history. Biden is still struggling with the Hispanic demographic, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University illustrating that the president's approval rating among Hispanic Americans has plummeted to 26%. Biden is less popular with Hispanics than any other group, including age and gender, Wednesday's poll discovered.