By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Washington, Mar 11 (EFE).- The United States Senate majority leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer has yet to talk with president Joe Biden about recent discussions on sanctions between a White House delegation and president Nicolas Maduro but tells Efe in an interview that he remains distrustful of the Venezuelan government.
“I think Maduro is a bad guy,” Schumer says. “He has treated his people in the country very badly, I don’t like dealing with him. I haven’t talked with the Biden administration about specifics on oil but in general I don’t like dealing with him.”
According to press reports, Biden is mulling a partial ease of the sanctions his predecessor Donald Trump leveled on Venezuela’s oil sector with the aim of mitigating a surge in prices sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Schumer adds that he would be inclined to maintain the sanctions on the South American nation’s oil sector.
The Democrat did highlight that Caracas released two American prisoners following the US delegation’s visit to Caracas — Cuban-American Jorge Alberto Fernandez, who was detained in February 2021, and Gustavo Adolfo Cardenas, a former director at Citgo — the US-based affiliate of Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA —, who had been held for four years and four months.
“They got two Americans freed, that was a very good thing.”
Schumer, 71, and Biden, 79, have known each other for over 20 years. Both sat in the Senate when the current president represented Delaware and, since 2021, Schumer has taken on the responsibility of pushing White House proposals through the upper house.
DISCREPANCIES ON MIGRATION
Both Schumer and Biden present a united front but clash on some policies such as Title 42, which Trump introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to turn back most undocumented migrants from the Mexican border.
Biden continues to use Title 42 to expel migrants, although members of his party have, in recent days, pressured him to slash the policy.
“I think rule 42 was highly unfair. I’m opposed to it. Even though president Biden said he was for it. I said ‘no’ — he called me up, he wasn’t so happy. But I said it’s wrong. Trump did it, you shouldn’t do it,” he tells Efe.
Schumer’s job in the Senate is far from easy given that the Democrats have the smallest possible majority with 50 seats, the same as the GOP.
Senate president and US vice-president Kamala Harris tips the voting in their favor but most legislation needs the approval of 60 votes.
In order to pass migration reforms or safeguard abortion rights — which could be upended by the Supreme Court this year — Americans need to boost Democrat numbers in the Senate during this year’s midterm elections.
Beyond internal politics, Schumer has been tasked with writing a page in US history in a bid to approve the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
Nominated by Biden, Jackson would become the first-ever Black woman to take up the position. Schumer describes her as “brilliant” and “beloved.”
The aim is to have her nomination confirmed by April. For that, the Democrats only need 50 votes but Schumer hopes that Republicans will also back the historic move. EFE