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Venezuela gives US foreign policy makers a headache

John Paul Rathbone

The Financial Times

Jun 8, 2014

The Financial Times reports:

Two bills, making their way through the US Congress, seek asset freezes and visa bans on Venezuelan officials guilty of human rights abuses. Both are also sponsored by senior Cuban-American legislators, who believe “Venezuela is the new Cuba” and are staunch supporters of Washington’s longstanding trade embargo against Havana.

There is a logic to this twinning. Every year, Venezuela sends Cuba thousands of barrels of subsidised oil. In return, communist Havana sends doctors and highly trained intelligence advisers to socialist Caracas. Punish Venezuela and you therefore squeeze Cuba, its closest ally.

But the bills serve another purpose too. Raising awareness of Cuba’s controversial involvement in Venezuela’s chaos counters a growing domestic lobby that wants to open up US policy towards Cuba – a country of which, as Cyrus Vance, a former secretary of state, remarked: “We seem unable to maintain a sense of perspective.”