The ongoing crisis in Venezuela could have implications in the United States if the White House decides to intensify sanctions on the Maduro government.
On Monday, the Trump administration announced financial sanctions against Nicolas Maduro after what many called a sham referendum. The Venezuelan leader maintains that voters on Sunday passed a mandate that allows him to place his supporters in every seat in the government.
Maduro has drawn widespread international criticism over the election and for his threat to use the new assembly to punish his foes. The U.S. and other nations consider his move a power grab.
President Donald Trump has not delivered on threats to sanction the South American country’s oil industry, which could undermine Maduro's government but also raise U.S. gas prices and deepen the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Max Alvarez is the president of Sunshine Gasoline. He said that while oil stocks may be impacted by the situation in Caracas, South Florida drivers shouldn’t see much of a difference at the pump — as long as there are no major changes in Venezuela.
“Real sanctions are when you cut off their ability to import and export, and their ability to generate American dollars,” Alvarez explained.
The gas exec said those who are boycotting Citgo Gas stations in South Florida in hopes of punishing Maduro are misguided. Boycotting the company only hurts local owners and employees.
“Neither Citgo nor Venezuela own one single gas station in South Florida,” said Alvarez.
Political watchers say they expect Maduro to clamp down even more as protests continue.
“They are going to go back to repression, to violence, to persecution because it’s the only way they have to show to the world that they are still being strong,” said Andre Rodriguez, a Venezuelan native and South Florida media consultant.
If Maduro continues to push back, there could be an international outcry for the U.S. to sanction Venezuelan oil. Experts say mild option would be to limit the amount of light crude oil the U.S. sends to Venezuela, which is mixed into a denser crude oil that is later exported.