Following the Obama administration’s implementation and expansion of targeted sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde was contacted by various media outlets to provide commentary and analysis from on the ground in Caracas.

In an interview on Background Briefing with Ian Masters (posted above), Smilde offered his analysis of how the U.S. sanctions will play out in Venezuela’s polarized political landscape. As he remarked on the radio show, the White House announcement will likely spur a vigorous, confrontational response from the Venezuela government.

In remarks to Bloomberg, Smilde noted that while the fact that the sanctions target mid-level officials may make yesterday’s executive order “less provocative than it could’ve been,” the move still risks fueling more conflict between the two countries, especially because it was framed in the language of a U.S. “national emergency.” According to him, “[T]he declaration of the state of emergency with respect to Venezuela, makes the optics of it very negative.”

Smilde’s initial statement in response to President Obama’s executive order, in which he described the unilateral measure as counterproductive to regional efforts to engage constructively with Venezuela, was featured in reports in USA Today and The Miami Herald.