Images and statistics regarding Venezuela’s economic crisis are relentlessly aimed a demonizing President Maduro’s government and absolving Trump for what U.S. sanctions do to Venezuelans. For example, in these Reuters articles below, the harmful impact of the Trump’s economic sanctions on the population (and their illegality) can only be reported as claims by the Venezuelan government.
In contrast, Venezuelan government policy is HEADLINED as a direct attack on the people
Reuters dropped all pretense of objectivity to blast Maduro for a half billion dollars in subsidy to Cuba even though Cuba has supplied Venezuela with tens of thousands of doctors. But according to Reuters itself, CITGO [a Venezuelan government owned corporation based in the U.S.] sent about $1 billion USD per year in dividends back to Venezuela between 2015 until about mid-2017. Since August of 2017, Trump has blocked them from doing so as part of the broad economic sanctions he introduced.
That doesn’t begin to cover the full impact of Trump’s sanctions. Remarks by Francisco Rodriguez, a harsh critic of Maduro and an economic adviser the main opposition candidate in in the May 20 election that just took place, suggested the cost is billions per year. Put that aside and assume U.S. sanctions only chop $1 billion per year from the Venezuelan government’s revenues. One billion dollars per year totally dwarfs offers of humanitarian aid that have been made to Venezuela according to one corporate journalist I privately communicated with who looked into it. Caritas total expenditures worldwide were a bit over $4 million in 2015. PADF’s total expenditures on its programs worldwide totaled $81 million in 2015
According to UNICEF about 10,000 child under five years of age died in Venezuela in 2016. By 2016, Venezuela’s child mortality rate (U5MR) had not gone up despite the economic crisis according UNICEF’s latest data (which is from 2016). However, the UNICEF data shows that the number of the most vulnerable Venezuelan children in in the low thousands.
A sum of $1 billion per year represents $100,000 per year that could be directed to EACH of the 10,000 of most vulnerable of Venezuelan children.
Another way to look at what $1 billion per year could do in Venezuela is per cancer patient.
There are about 1 million new cancer cases per year in Latin America and the Caribbean out of a population of 650 million. So there are probably about 50,000 new people diagnosed per year in Venezuela. $1 billion per year is enough to give each of those people $20,000.
There is simply no credible way to deny that $1 billion per year could go a long way for the most vulnerable people in Venezuela.
Of course, Trump’s apologists will counter that the Maduro government will simply “waste” or “steal” the money lost from the sanctions. But the attacks on the election that just took place assume the opposite: that the Maduro government “buys” or even “coerces” millions of votes by distributing aid or simply by paying the salaries of public sector workers. Never mind that votes are secret in Venezuela. Moreover, Maduro received the votes of about 28% of registered voters which corresponds to his genuine level of support according if you believe the most widely cited opposition-aligned pollster, Datanalisis (which had him at 26% support in February). There is no evidence of any effective coercion at the ballot box if you believe Datanalisis. If you believe pro-government pollsters, Maduro actually fell short in his get out the vote strategy.
Trump’s sanctions are clearly aimed at undercutting Maduro’s political support by taking direct aim at millions of Venezuelans. Reuters is part of the propaganda system that lets Trump get away with it.