Eighteen legislators from the left wing of the United States Democratic Party ask President Joe Biden to lift the sanctions against Venezuela and continue dialogue with the government of Nicolás Maduro, while an influential Republican senator urges the president not to change the policy towards Caracas.
In separate letters this week, 18 congressmen led by Raúl Grijalva and Jesús 'Chuy' García, and the Republican senator from Florida Marco Rubio, made opposition to the Democratic tenant of the White House.
In a letter dated May 10, progressive Democrats claim that the punitive measures against Venezuela by the previous Republican administration of Donald Trump only served to "exacerbate" the humanitarian crisis in the former oil power.
And they urge Biden to continue the "constructive engagement" of the White House towards Venezuela, after the trip in March of high-ranking officials from Washington to Caracas allowed the release of two Americans detained there for years, as well as the apparent commitment of Maduro to restart the dialogue with the opposition, suspended since October.
"It is clear that comprehensive sanctions have not achieved their objectives," they note. In light of this, and the terrible human costs incurred, we urge you to lift all US financial and sectoral sanctions that exacerbate the humanitarian situation.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib, known for their leftist positions, are among the signatories of the letter.
The United States and Venezuela broke diplomatic relations in early 2019, after Maduro's re-election in disputed elections.
Washington then recognized as interim president the head of the Legislature, the opposition Juan Guaidó, and imposed a battery of sanctions to force the departure of Maduro, including a de facto embargo on Venezuelan oil in force since April 2019.
Rubio, one of the architects of Trump's maximum pressure policy against Maduro, also asks Biden to "publicly reaffirm" his recognition of Guaidó. And he deplores the talks of the US delegation in Caracas, led by Biden's adviser for the Americas on the National Security Council, Juan González, as "silly".
This trip came after the United States banned imports of Russian oil due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which fueled speculation that the United States could resume the purchase of Venezuelan crude, something later ruled out by the White House.
In March, Rubio and powerful Democratic Senator Bob Menendez criticized Washington's outreach to Caracas and strongly opposed turning to "dictator" Maduro for oil.
In addition to being investigated for crimes against humanity, Maduro was charged with "narco-terrorism" by the United States justice system, where a $15 million reward is being offered for his capture.