On Saturday, October 10, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) joined with 27 Venezuelan and regional civil society organizations in calling on the U.S. government to reiterate its commitment to a peaceful, democratic solution in Venezuela, and to refrain from any policies that aggravate the humanitarian emergency. The signing organizations are concerned by the likelihood that the lifting of extensions on U.S. sanctions that allow the importation of diesel to Venezuela could exacerbate the impact of the humanitarian crisis and deepen human suffering on the ground.

On September 1st, a group of 115 organizations and individuals in Venezuelan and U.S. civil society published an open letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to express concern over the possible consequences of this measure. One month later, we have not received an official response, and all indications suggest that the Trump administration is moving forward with the implementation of new restrictions on the exchange of fuel in Venezuela. Facing this situation, the 28 signing organizations once again express our profound concern over the devastating consequences this measure would have on the Venezuelan people, while having no effect on overcoming the political conflict currently affecting the country.

In Venezuela, diesel imports are the primary source of fuel for the generation of electricity and for the transportation of basic goods including food, medicine, and humanitarian aid. Limiting access to these already scarce goods and services would have profound consequences for the poorest sectors of society that are already in an extremely vulnerable situation, as well as for the humanitarian organizations that provide them assistance. To cut access to diesel would devastate an already crumbling supply chain in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and the additional restrictions associated with the pandemic.

Foreseeing the likely negative consequences of these new restrictions on access to diesel fuel, the signing organizations once again call on the U.S. government to extend its commitment to a peaceful, negotiated, and democratic transition in Venezuela, and to maintain the current extensions on the importation of diesel. It is imperative that the U.S. reaffirm its commitment to these goals, while avoiding any measures that aggravate the humanitarian emergency.

View the full letter and list of signatories here.