Venezuela rejects US ‘BOLIVAR Act’ that penalizes business with its government

The ‘BOLIVAR Act,’ approved by the US Senate last Friday, prohibits US federal agencies from doing business with anyone who has commercial dealing with the Nicolás Maduro government

December 20, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
#HandsOffVenezuela march in Caracas, Venezuela, in February 2019. Photo: Archives

The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on Saturday, December 17, strongly condemned the approval by the US Senate of a bill known as the ‘BOLIVAR Act,’ for constituting “a violation of economic freedoms and a serious offense to the Venezuelan people.”

The bill, titled ‘Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime,’ was approved by the Senate on December 16. It prohibits US state agencies from doing business and entering into contracts with anyone who has commercial dealings with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The bill has yet to receive the green light in the US House of Representatives.

The Venezuelan foreign ministry, through a statement, described the bill as “unfortunate” both in its name and its content, and criticized it as a tool contrary to international law and engineered by the extremist sectors of US politics.

The ministry denounced the fact that it “[violated] the integrity of the sovereign people of Venezuela as well as that of the US companies themselves, by placing them at risk of being penalized, arbitrarily, unfairly and illegally, when exercising their right to free trade through contracts with the Bolivarian Government.”

The Venezuelan government also said that the “abusive” bill once again “[demonstrated] the cruelty of ultra-conservative and coup-mongering sectors in US politics that are relentless in their attempt to overthrow the legitimate government and blow up any possible route to dialogue and constructive relations between the two countries.”

The statement slammed the US for disgracing the name of Liberator Simón Bolívar. It noted that the name given to the bill “offends the Venezuelan people, their history and their Liberator, whose republican values ​​and commitment to the principles of freedom and peace are way above those of a handful of legislators ignorant of his glory.”

The Venezuelan government went on to say that “in the face of the Monroeist threat and its war-builder heirs, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will continue to cultivate and defend the legacy of Liberator Simón Bolívar, carving out its own path of political and social stability, economic recovery and peace diplomacy, for a world free of hegemonism, colonialism, and imperialism.”

US Senator Rick Scott, one of the promoters of the bill, stressed that the approval of the bill would be a “big step to weaken” the Maduro government.

In this regard, it is worth highlighting that last month, the US Treasury Department authorized the US oil giant Chevron to begin extracting and commercializing Venezuelan crude for four years. The US government indicated that this was done in a gesture of support for the negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the platform of far-right opposition sectors. The US authorities avoided acknowledging that the step was taken amid fuel crises in the US and Europe due to sanctions that have been placed on Russia and Russian-exported fuel.

The bill passed by the Senate provides for exceptions, such as humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and when the Office of Foreign Assets Control issues a valid license to do business in Venezuela. It also allows the Secretary of State to remove the restriction when it is in the US national interest.

Additionally, the bill establishes that the prohibition will not affect “any business with the legitimately elected government of the National Assembly and its elected successors,” an indirect reference to the self-proclaimed President Juan Guaidó and his allies, who are neither elected nor in the government.