Despite coronavirus, Venezuela faces no respite from Trump’s sanctions

WHILE the coronavirus crisis in Latin America rages, the Trump administration has grown frustrated at the US’s inability to unseat Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has tried just about everything for the last six years, including crippling sanctions and an ever-tightening economic blockade, to overthrow the country’s incumbent leftist PSUV-led bloc.

Venezuela solidarity campaigners have said that despite every ‘imaginal nasty method’, the US actions have miserably failed even though the consequences on the population of those actions, particularly the sanctions have been terrible. 

The Washington based think tank the Centre for Economic and Policy Research published a report in April 2019 indicating that between 2017 and 2018 40,000 Venezuelans died unnecessarily. 

In the past month, the Trump administration has tightened up the sanctions and expanded them to include state airline CONVIASA and Russian-owned oil firm Rosneft. 

“The worry is the strategist in the State Department, Pentagon and the White House, all the apparatchiks to intervene and bring about regime change are really seeing the pandemic as a great opportunity as they believe the Venezuela government is going to substantially debilitated,” Francisco Dominguez told an online briefing attended by Redaction Politics this week.

Dr Dominguez added: “The Trump administration expected, given the state of the economy and the difficulties they have put Venezuela under, they expected the performance to be substantially worse so that they would be able to declare some sort of terrible humanitarian crisis in order to justify intervention.”

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At the start of April, Trump ordered US Navy warships to move into the Carribean.

 

Announced as part of an ‘anti-narcotics’ initiative, the Associated Press reported the operation is among the largest mounted in the area since the 1989 invasion of Panama.

This display of American military might has the added effect of putting pressure on Venezuela, coinciding with the Justice Departments decision to charge top-ranking Venezuelan officials with “narco-terrorism.” 

Dr Dominguez slammed the move saying: “The United States is trying to use this (drugs charges) as a justification for war. 

“The intention is to block Venezuela in every possible way so nothing goes out and nothing comes in with the justification being drug control.”

Dr Dominguez has expressed fears that this ‘anti-drug’ mission will also target Venezuela’s regional links and vital coronavirus collaboration with Cuba.

He said: “The intention is also to block Cuba, placing it under naval blockade along with Venezuela to prevent the exchange between the two.

“Their collaboration is absolutely vital for the struggle against the pandemic that is going on now.”

Alongside the escalation in the Carribean, the US State Department published a proposal under which the US promised to lift sanctions.

Titled the ‘Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela’, the plan includes 13 different demands, calling for regime change, structural reform within Venezuela, the replacement of the Maduro cabinet with a ‘Council of State’ and the removal of the whole Bolivarian administration.

Dr Dominguez believes the US was pushed into making these political demands by fear that Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition may come to a separate agreement based on a common rejection of outside interference in the country’s domestic affairs.

“What has got the US extremely worried is the fact that the Maduro government has entered into a serious agreement with a very substantial section of the opposition. 

“The new duly elected president of the national assembly is also in discussions with the government, with all sides condemning any external interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” he told the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign briefing. 

He continued: “They have been extremely firm and very clear and they are preparing the ground, setting up even a new National Council. There are going guarantees for all the parties that participate to organise elections to the national assembly.

“They want to ensure that they do something dramatic whatever it is in order to stop by whatever means these elections take place because they know that after that it will be literally impossible.”

Dr Dominguez concluded the discussion by making an emotional appeal for renewed international solidarity with the people of Venezuela saying: 

“It is crucial that not only we denounce them, but all of us who have even one ounce of decency in our hearts, especially now that the whole of humanity is suffering this terrible humanitarian crisis where thousands and thousands of people are dying. 

“What is completely unacceptable morally, ethically, politically and in any possible way is the fact the United States keep maintaining and intensifying sanctions against Latin American countries in particular Venezuela. 

“We want everybody to join our voice to demand they are lifted.”

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