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Summer of Victories 2019


US’ Policy of Interventionism in Latin America Hits Venezuela

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Marwa Osman

For those of us who grew up in the Middle East, learning about American hypocritical history to “extend rights” to more people, it is not shocking to know that America has sponsored coups in many countries that did the exact opposite. Some of which happened in Central America, where communists leaders threatened to push the US away in favor of a closer relationship with the Soviet Union since the US had not had the best reputation in those countries.

After all, it was American business men who had financed the so-called “banana republics” which are dictatorships set up to streamline the production of certain tropical agricultural products. These governments have kept wealth put of the hands of the masses, while communists in that part of the world were offering a bright future to the people.

However, a fair amount was also geopolitics. The US for more than a 100 years now have been actively engaged in destabilizing nations and governments around the world and in particular in Latin America especially after the foundation of the CIA in 1947. In the slightly less than a hundred years from 1898 to 1994, the US government has intervened successfully to change governments in Latin America a total of at least 41 times. These incidents involved the use of US military forces, intelligence agents or local citizens employed by US government agencies. In some cases, the US government played an indirect role. That is, local actors played the principal roles, but either would not have acted or would not have succeeded without encouragement from the US government.

Starting with what happened in Guatemala, where in 1954 the CIA helped to overthrow the leftist President Jacobo Arbenz. Guatemala City was bombed and a military regime was installed that would pave the way for the country’s civil war which raged into the 1990s killing more than 200,000 people.

Five years later the Cuban revolution marched in defiantly into Havana and the CIA began its never-ending, albeit quit unsuccessful, campaign against Cuba and Fidel Castro. This included the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the hundreds of attempts on Fidel Castro’s life. Cuba’s neighbor Haiti was a bit unlucky though, depending on who’ side you were on. In 1959, the CIA squashed a rebellion against Dictator Francois Duvalier, helping him mobilize an army to violently repress those against him. His successor Jean-Claude Duvalier continued the repression through to the 1980s leaving over 100,000 people dead.

Coups and assassinations have been a stylistic trait of the CIA. Brazil’s democratic President Joao Goulart was overthrown in 1964. He died 12 years later under suspect circumstances. Chile’s 1973 CIA-backed coup saw the death of democratically elected President Salvador Allende. General Augusto Pinochet was installed as a bloody dictator for roughly the next 18 years in which thousands of people were tortured and killed. And who can forget the old plane crash trick which has been standard operating procedure at the CIA? Think of leftist Ecuadorian President Jaime Roldos, who was killed in a plane crash in May 1981 or Panamanian President Omar Torrijos who died the same way only two months later. Both of them were not on great terms with the US government.

While these stories are in the past, it is obvious that the CIA is still up to their hard work, albeit with perhaps shifting less blatant tactics. Of course, the list of CIA coup attempts and regime change wars are endless but the world now is shifting attention to Venezuela which is now on the top of that list knocking down Syria.

Preparing Venezuela for Regime Change

For more than a decade, the United States has employed sanctions as a policy tool in response to the anti-imperial policies of the Venezuelan government. In addition to targeted sanctions against individuals, the Trump administration has gradually imposed broader economic sanctions on Venezuela which:

•             prohibits access to the US financial markets by the Venezuelan government, including Venezuela’s state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA

•             prohibits transactions involving the Venezuelan government’s issuance and use of digital currency, digital coin, or digital token

•             prohibits transactions related to the purchase of Venezuelan debt, including accounts receivable, and to any debt owed to Venezuela pledged as collateral

•             block the assets of, and prohibit certain transactions with, any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to operate in the gold sector (or any other sector of the economy as determined in the future by the Secretary of the Treasury) or to be responsible or complicit in transactions involving deceptive practices or corruption and the Venezuelan government

•             an embargo on certain US exports to and/or imports from Venezuela (such as oil) and a prohibition on all financial transactions with PDVSA

The US government knows that stronger economic sanctions will not influence the Venezuelan government’s behavior, but rather they will have negative effects and intended consequences to suffocate the people of Venezuela. Stronger sanctions will exacerbate Venezuela’s already difficult economic and humanitarian situation, which has been marked by shortages of food and medicines, increased poverty, and mass migration.

The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was loud and clear on Monday January 28, when he said that the revenues earned by Venezuelan companies will be held in escrow until US-appointed Juan Guaidó has been granted control of the government or new elections are held in Venezuela.

Since oil exports constitute 95% of Venezuela’s export revenue, the US has set its mind to destroy this sector to force regime change in Venezuela, which could possibly turn into an invasion or worse, a bloody civil war. In November 2017, Maduro led a corruption purge in the now sanctioned oil company and arrested the heads of both the Energy Ministry and PDVSA and replaced them with a general and a former housing minister, respectively, a move the US government did not like and hence imposed more sanctions on the Government of Venezuela and PDVSA. PDVSA’s refineries since then operated at 43% of capacity due to lack of spares, feedstock, and light crude.

To add salt to the injury, the EU Council decided to impose an arms embargo on Venezuela as per the demands of the US regime. However, this embargo was not only about arms but rather included a prohibition on the sale, supply, transfer or export, directly or indirectly, of equipment which might be used for internal repression, including equipment, software and technology that can be used to track and monitor opponents’ use of the Internet, email, texting and instant messaging. It also introduced a legal framework for travel bans and asset freezes against those the EU deems as involved in “human rights violations” and “non-respect” for democracy or the rule of law.

These financial and economic sanctions, that have already been placed against Venezuela, prohibit investors from buying and selling Venezuelan bonds, making it impossible for Venezuela to restructure its debt and preventing Venezuela from borrowing. That is very drastic, because for example without being able to borrow, they cannot roll over their loans. So normally when debt comes due, bonds come due when they mature, government will just roll that over, will borrow again, and then they just have to pay the interest consistently. However, in Venezuela they’ve had to pay the principal as well, because they can’t borrow. And they can’t restructure that debt either under the US sanctions, because that involves borrowing.

Sanctions Can Be A Prelude to Actual War

As a result of these illegal sanctions, Venezuela has lost a lot of other possibilities for credit as well, because financial institutions tend to be cautious, and they don’t want to go against the sanctions. So even the imports of some medicines has been affected by that, although depriving the government of foreign exchange has also contributed to shortages of lifesaving medicines, as well as food.

Of course, the US did not create the crisis in 2017 or now per se. It did way before when recession in Venezuela began in 2014 and the US regime made sure that oil is at $100 a barrel. However, what these sanctions have done is make it nearly impossible for Venezuela to get out of the depression and the hyperinflation that the economy got caught in, and that is the main purpose of those sanctions.

The US sanctions are no question illegal under international law since they violate the OAS charter and international treaties that the US has signed which prohibit such things as collective punishment.

Oddly enough, the “western regimes” are treating these sanctions as though this is the way the world works. If the US wants to overthrow a government it didn’t like, it can threaten military action, as they’ve done, it can call for a military coup within the country, and it can actively destroy the economy in order to topple the government than that’s OK and no one in the Western mainstream media thinks anything’s wrong with that.

Ordinary Venezuelans are the ones hurt by sanctions imposed by the US and blindly also imposed by most of the western “free world”. The elderly grandmother who cannot get insulin for her diabetes, the child who is undernourished during an important stage of development, families who cannot afford to feed and clothe their children as a result of hyperinflation, they are all effected. There is no other interpretation for this. The US sanctions are precipitating a deliberate rapid economic decline in Venezuela and ordinary Venezuelans are the primary victims. The US hypocritically claims to be concerned about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, while their sanctions are deliberately designed to asphyxiate the Venezuelan economy.

In addition to the economic war being waged against Venezuela through sanctions, public statements by US officials, like that of warmongering National Security Adviser John Bolton, have made clear that a military option against Venezuela is under serious consideration. These sanctions are a collective punishment designed to create enough human misery to bring about the overthrow of a democratically elected government, including via a military coup. Economic sanctions violate Venezuela’s national sovereignty and the basic rights of Venezuelan citizens and the US regime is breaking international law by imposing them. What will it take to make the US regime stop and leave other nations decide their own fates?

Source: Al-Ahed News