• Louise Højen
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the processes and structures that have generated the 2014 U.S. decision to introduce a sanctions bill against Venezuelan officials guilty of violating human rights in Venezuela. It specifically examines the historic U.S.-Venezuela relationship that led to the sanctions bill with special attention to the presidency of Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro, and how opposing political forces in Venezuela and the United States have influenced domestic as well as foreign policy making. It also studies the Venezuelan and U.S. interest in Latin America, and the impact of regional blocs on U.S.-Venezuela foreign policy changes.
Moreover, this thesis assesses the impact of realism, and specifically Mearsheimer’s offensive realism, on explaining what prompted the United States to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials. In order to enhance the analytical process of finding valid explanations, the theoretical foundation include concepts from international political economy, geopolitics, and the international society tradition. These different theories and concepts have been chosen because they have added to a broad and nuanced study of the fact that diverse structures determine the actions of the U.S. and Venezuelan states, as well as their state officials, in international politics. The world is not only one of anarchy and conflict, but also one where states may collaborate despite differences to reach an objective.
The conclusion is that the introduction of the sanctions bill was caused by several changes in the U.S.-Venezuela relationship since the presidency of Chávez. By investigating the context behind the sanctions bill, the reached results highlight how U.S.-Venezuela relations are marked by competition through soft-balancing measures in the Latin American region. Venezuela’s government wants less U.S. interference in Latin America through increased regional integration and autonomy, processes that Venezuela has influenced through its oil wealth. In contrast, the United States strives to support a political regime change in Venezuela friendlier towards U.S. interests, a pressure that the sanctions bill adds to, though it also is a strategy to renew U.S. regional hegemony in Latin America. However, the legitimacy behind the bill is highly contested, and though international concern, such as by the UN, about Venezuela’s human rights violations is understandable, no findings support a U.S. right to interfere in the domestic affairs of Venezuela nor to punish Venezuelan officials through targeted sanctions.
SpecialisationLatin American Studies
Publication date29 May 2015
Number of pages77
ID: 213145136