|Volume 50 Number 13, April 11, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Last month the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for the easing of economic sanctions imposed by the US, Britain and the other big powers against various countries. "At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries," she said, "sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended. In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us."
However, despite this warning the government of US, as well as the governments of other countries, including Britain, continue to apply a variety of sanctions, including economic sanctions during the Covid-19 pandemic against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and other countries such as the DPR of Korea and Zimbabwe. In many cases such sanctions are used to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries or to further the regime change agenda of the big powers.
The governments of the United States and Britain have imposed sanctions against Venezuela for many years, the US for over ten years. The US government has intensified sanctions since 2019, and again this year, in an attempt to bring about regime change in that country. Sanctions are imposed not only on scores of individuals but against Venezuela's oil industry, the state oil company, the financial sector and the central bank.
US imperialism, with the support of the government of Britain and other allies, has done everything possible to destabilise the government and economy of Venezuela, in order to force from office Nicólas Maduro, who was twice elected as president of Venezuela in elections in 2013 and 2018. Even before President Maduro took office, in January 2019, US imperialism and its allies acting under the auspices of the Organisation of American States and the Lima Group had declared, without any credible evidence, that the May 2018 election was "illegitimate". The US government urged President Maduro not to take office, but instead to transfer executive power to the National Assembly, controlled by opposition parties and under the leadership of Juan Guaido, until new elections could be held. The government of Britain, for its part, took a similar stand to the US government. In January 2019, Jeremy Hunt declared: "Nicólas Maduro is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela," and "the United Kingdom believes that Juan Guaido is the right person to take Venezuela forward." The governments of the United States and Britain as well as their allies, have continued to apply economic sanctions that impact on the well-being of the Venezuelan people.
Speaking early last month on the situation in Venezuela, Michelle Bachelet stated: "With regard to economic and social rights, the imposition of new economic sanctions is concerning, notably those affecting airline CONVIASA, as well as sanctions on the oil industry, which reduce the Government's resources for social spending." As a paediatrician, she drew particular attention to the problems of medical care for children, and added: "Despite exceptions to allow imports of medicines, food and humanitarian supplies, public services and the general population continue to suffer from the impact of over compliance from the financial sector." A recent survey by the World Food Programme indicated that 2.3 million people in Venezuela are severely food insecure and 7 million are moderately food insecure. In response to the dire situation in the country, Venezuela has recently received medical aid directly from the WHO and the UN.
However, the US government has intensified measures to oust the government of Nicólas Maduro during the current pandemic. First the US government indicted President Maduro and fourteen other leading figures of the government and army, including the defence minister and chief justice, on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. The US government offered a reward of $15 million for information leading to Maduro's capture and prosecution. The US State Department also hinted that Venezuela might be invaded as Panama was in 1988 and its president removed from office.
At the end of March, the US government stated that it, together with the EU and Britain would only lift sanctions against Venezuela, if the current government accepted what was referred to as a "democratic transition framework". This "framework", imposed by the US and its allies, requires both the president of Venezuela and Guaido to stand aside in order that the US can establish an interim government favourable to its interests. Commentators point out that a transitional agreement was already being discussed by politicians within Venezuela, but this was not acceptable to the US government. Most political parties in Venezuela have already condemned such brazen interference in their domestic affairs.
At the start of April, the US President Donald Trump declared that the US was sending warships, other naval vessels and aircraft to double its military capacity in the Caribbean, not to aid the people of the that region facing the pandemic, but to further threaten the government of Venezuela. Trump announced that other countries would support such sabre-rattling and gunboat diplomacy, which is not in accord with the UN Charter nor with the view of CARICOM, the organisation of Caribbean States. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, for example, reiterated the CARICOM view that the Caribbean must be remain a zone of peace.
Increasingly, people and countries throughout the world are raising their voices to oppose the blatant interference of the US, Britain and their allies in Venezuela. Such warmongering and interference must be condemned, as must all attempts to use the pandemic to further attack the rights and well-being of the people.