- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
Things are not going well in Venezuela. But that Venezuela is fraught with corruption, that the government and military are violently pushing back against those who would see President Nicolás Maduro removed from power, and that public health and hunger are quickly worsening — this is not news.
What is news, however, is that this week, Maduro seemed to signal he cares most of all to maintain his grip on power — and that multinational business firms do not see that as a profitable way forward.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that General Mills and five other firms, have sold their Venezuela operations “for as little as half their assessed value on the companies’ books.” The move will all but certainly further isolate Venezuela’s already crumbling economy.
Maduro has refused responsibility for the country’s economic climate. Instead, he blamed the United States — specifically, the ever-unpopular “Washington elites.” Just this past Sunday, Maduro used his weekly television program not only to refuse to hold early elections, but also to call on U.S. President Barack Obama to revoke an executive order from March 2015 declaring a national emergency due to the “unusual and extraordinary threat” that Venezuela poses for U.S. national security and foreign policy. The executive order contained targeted sanctions intended to bolster a 2014 U.S. law defending human rights and civil society in Venezuela.
It is unclear why Maduro chose this past Sunday to urge Obama once again to revoke the order. But so, too, is it unclear why, with his country in turmoil, Maduro has taken up a second career as a salsa DJ.
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