Venezuela jumped back into U.S. crosshairs this week, with a slate of fresh U.S. Treasury Department sanctions on top Venezuelan figures, new Senate legislation aiming to further isolate the Venezuelan regime, and tough talk of even harsher measures from U.S. President Donald Trump at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The drumbeat of mounting economic and diplomatic pressure comes atop a raft of U.S. sanctions, and with the Venezuelan economy in utter free fall as oil production plummets and inflation and shortages skyrocket. But, given the country’s divided opposition and a mostly loyal military, even that ramped-up U.S. pressure is unlikely to be enough to end the rule of President Nicolás Maduro anytime soon.
“You can create a storyline that says Washington is amping up the pressure, and I think that is accurate, but I’m not sure that this becomes a tipping point,” said Eric Farnsworth, a Venezuela expert at the Council of the Americas. “They will continue to raise the costs of corruption and show disapproval by the United States, but I don’t think they’re going to create significant changes on the ground.”