Former U.S. President Donald Trump seems, uh, unadventurous when it comes to food, but I always thought he was down with Italian cuisine, or at least pizza and pasta. Yet his administration slapped sanctions on an Italian restaurant as part of an economic blockade against Venezuela.
April Fool’s Day is over, and this isn’t a joke. On Trump’s last day in office, his Department of Treasury placed sanctions on a restaurant and pizzeria in Verona, Italy called Dolce Gusto, owned by Alessandro Bazzoni. But this week, the Treasury copped to its mistake and removed the restaurant and Bazzoni. Mamma mia, what a mess!
The whole fiasco came as part of an economic blockade on crude oil from Venezuela. In 2019, the U.S. sanctioned the nation’s oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela, in an attempt to push President Nicolas Maduro to resign. I’m no fan of fossil fuel imports, but this was part of a broader crackdown that has severely reduced the availability of food and medicine in the country, resulting in 40,000 deaths.
But in an apparent attempt to blacklist a different guy also named Alessandro Bazzoni — who has been accused of associating with a network of people attempting to evade sanctions on Venezuelan crude — this restaurant owner ended up in a sticky situation.
Or at least, that’s the story, but could something else be going on? Gizmodo did some digging and according to TripAdvisor reviews, some people taken issue with the restaurant’s choice of sausage:
When it comes to food, Donald Trump, somewhat famously, has the opinions of a fussy five-year-old. He loves fast food chains and chocolate cake, eschewing vegetables, and putting ketchup on well done steak. While there is an Alessandro Bazzoni that the Trump administration would ostensibly want to sanction for oil-related reasons, is it possible Trump was secretly lashing out at Big Spicy Raw Sausage? We can only hope the Trump presidential library will contain insights into this bizarre affair. Whatever the case, this fits with the Trump administration.
“When you move that fast, you tend to make mistakes,” Tim O’Toole, a sanctions specialist at law firm Miller & Chevalier, told Reuters with regard to the sanctions, though he may well have been talking about any number of episodes. There were screwups large and small. For Dolce Gusto’s owner, at least, the nightmare of being an international financial pariah has ended.
“They resolved the problem. I shouldn’t be involved anymore,” the restaurant-owning Bazzoni told Reuters. “It was a mistake … thankfully it was all resolved in a couple of months.”
Good on the Biden’s Treasury Department for fixing the mistake. Not so good on the Biden administration for apparently planning to continue sanctions, which is unconscionable. Next it should think about seriously engaging in diplomacy with Venezuela and contributing funding to the country’s transition away from fossil fuels.