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March 27, 2020

How an ease of sanctions may combat the coronavirus crisis

By Peter Harrell

Pressure is increasing to ease sanctions on Iran and Venezuela in response to the coronavirus crisis. Prominent Democrats in Congress have called on the administration to lift sanctions that will impede humanitarian supplies, adding their voices to the collection of organizations that are demanding sanctions relief. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also already urged the Group of 20 to ease sanctions in a bid to help countries battle the pandemic. While the hardline views of President Trump on Iran and Venezuela make it unlikely that the United States will engage in any comprehensive measures, the administration must still move quickly to provide targeted sanctions relief to alleviate human suffering.

The coronavirus has been devastating to Iran. Official statistics show that it has suffered more than 20,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths, but the real toll is likely much higher. Satellite imagery indicates that Iran has had to dig mass graves to bury coronavirus victims. While Venezuela appears early in the trajectory of the pandemic, its failing health system and ruined economy make it exceptionally vulnerable. Leaders in Iran and Venezuela bear ultimate responsibility for the mismanagement and corruption that has impaired their ability to respond to the disease, but the United States should nonetheless resolve to address the humanitarian issue.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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