A group of senior Republican senators demand that Biden keep his word and reimpose oil sanctions on the Maduro regime

"History has proven time and time again that appeasing dictators does not work," they wrote.

A group of seven senior Republican senators is asking President Joe Biden not to renew the controversial "General License 44," an authorization granted last year to Venezuela that meant significant relief from oil sanctions for the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro.

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, told President Biden in a letter that history shows conciliatory tactics never work to appease dictators like Maduro, who leads an authoritarian regime that persecutes political dissent.

"We write to urge you to not renew General License 44 'Authorizing Transactions Related to Oil or Gas Sector Operations in Venezuela' when it comes up for renewal on April 18th," the Republican senators wrote. "As you know, on October 17, 2023, the regime of Nicolás Maduro and members of the democratic opposition signed the Barbados Agreement that laid the groundwork for fair presidential elections in Venezuela in July 2024. This resulted in partial U.S. sanctions relief on the Venezuelan oil and gas sector. Since then, the Maduro regime has failed to uphold its promises and deliberately violated the boundaries of that agreement."

In the Barbados Agreements, signed last year between the opposition and the Venezuelan authorities, the Maduro regime committed to move forward on an electoral path towards presidential "elections" on July 18. However, since the agreement was signed, Venezuela's regime-controlled Attorney General's Office has increased political repression against dissidents, journalists, human rights activists and defenders.

The Chavista dictatorship has specifically targeted opposition leader María Corina Machado and her closest collaborators.

"History has proven time and time again that appeasing dictators does not work. We strongly urge you to reinstate and fully enforce all U.S. sanctions on the Maduro regime relieved as a result of the October 2023 Barbados Agreement," the senators continued. "If the U.S. fails to take a credible stance on ensuring free and fair elections are held in Venezuela, the prospects of a democratic Venezuela will continue to diminish, which will further embolden authoritarian aggressors such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Iran, and Russia."

In addition to Sullivan, the missive was also signed by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rick Scott (R-FL).

On Monday, a State Department spokesman said the Biden administration will not renew General License 44 and Reuters reported that White House officials are evaluating whether to file a new, more restrictive license or reimpose the sanctions in full.