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USA’s Game Plan in Venezuela: Strangulation through Sanctions


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On 19 January, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated three individuals, fourteen entities, and six vessels for helping Nicolas Maduro’s legitimately elected government to overcome US sanctions on its oil sector. 

As a result of the sanctions, all the property of the designated entities and individuals will be blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Any business that is owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by the designated individuals and entities, is blocked. Trade within the US by sanctioned entities is also prohibited. 

Humanitarian Imperialism

Secretary of State Pompeo quite carefully explained the inhumane objective of these sanctions: “This action aims to increase pressure on international shipping entities to disengage from the Venezuelan oil sector and further limit the illegitimate Maduro regime’s options for selling oil…We will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to promote the peaceful transition to a once-again free, prosperous, and stable Venezuela.” To put it in other words, USA wants to strangulate and topple Maduro’s government. 

Perhaps the irony of all ironies is that the sanctions are meant to save or liberate Venezuela from some supposed tyranny. And the method for US-styled liberation is peculiar. A country is in pain; increase the pain. A country lacks food; prevent it from freely importing food. In sum, to save a country, destroy it. To Pompeo’s contorted aim of achieving the dream of a “free Venezuela”, we can add an absurd claim made by Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin: “The United States remains committed to targeting those enabling the Maduro regime’s abuse of Venezuela’s natural resources.” 

Steven’s heroically high-principled aim of fighting against bad actors runs contrary to the stated ambition of American administrators. In a 2017 Oval Office meeting, Donald Trump said that Venezuela is “the country we should be going to war with”. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.” John Bolton, at that time the National Security Advisor, told Fox News in January 2019: “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” Can we conclude then that the US will save Venezuela’s natural resources by pillaging them? 

Guaidó: A Lackey of the US 

On the same day as sanctions were imposed, Pompeo talked with US-backed puppet politician Juan Guaidó, who is rejected by 83% of Venezuelans. Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that Pompeo and Guaidó “discussed their mutual goal of a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela and the United States’ unwavering support for his leadership and for the liberty and dignity of all Venezuelans.  The Secretary expressed his personal respect and appreciation for Interim President Guaido’s commitment to the cause of freedom and his inspiring leadership to millions of Venezuelans yearning for a brighter future.” 

Democratic transition? Freedom? Dignity? Guaidó does not represent any of these things. He is known for brazenly criminal conduct: calling for foreign military intervention; expropriating Venezuela’s foreign resources; sabotaging public services; attempting to carry out a murderous coup; orchestrating food shortages; illegally assuming positions which don’t belong to him; collaborating with paramilitary drug lords; preventing the import of medicines, particularly during the pandemic and enriching himself at the expense of the people’s resources. The Comptroller General of Venezuela, Elvis Amoroso, has found that Guaidó holds 2 billion euros in bank accounts in Europe and owns a 77-foot yacht in the United States.

A Fight against Inhumanity 

The rot at the heart of Guaidó’s catastrophic coup-mongering is brought to light by his actions regarding vaccination. His team has turned down requests from the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) to free up US $120 million worth of frozen assets in the UK. The funds would have been used for purchasing vaccines through the Gavi financing program, which looks to boost poorer countries’ vaccination programmes via the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative.

In contrast to the inhumane attitude of Guaidó and his team, Maduro’s government has assisted Brazil in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Manaus – capital of the Amazonas state of Brazil – under the banner of “Latin American solidarity before anything else!” Manaus registered a record of oxygen consumption for patients with respiratory deficiencies, which went from about 5,000 cubic meters per day to 76,000.

Trucks transporting oxygen donated by Venezuela arrived in Manaus on January 18, 2021. The convoy of six tanker trucks has a capacity of 136,000 liters, equivalent to 14,000 individual cylinders. The governor of the Venezuelan state of Bolívar, Justo Noguera Pietri, delivered the oxygen in the border territory to the senator of the Brazilian state of Roraima, Telmario Motta. Pietri affirmed the Venezuelan government’s willingness to continue providing aid to Brazil, as long as it needs it.

As is evident from the two cases mentioned above, Venezuela is witnessing a fight between Bolivarian humanity and imperialist inhumanity. While the former represents the exploited masses, national sovereignty, development, creative-communal work, liberation, peace and capitalism, the latter represents oligarchical interests, Yankee interventionism, under-development, sabotage, counter-revolutionary terror, hunger, elitist privilege, mercenaries, aggression and capitalism. It is the duty of every revolutionary to lend active support to the socialist project and fight against the inhumanity of imperialist capitalism. 

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Michael January 23, 2021 3:52 pm 

    I should not be responding to so many fine articles in one day, forgive me. But this one strikes deeply, too. I was born in the US and have lived there most of my life, but for many years I lived in Latin America, thus I feel at home there and have a certain real attachment to the condition and well-being of the people there, in fact I have relatives there through marriage.

    We in the US have little way of knowing about the people of a country like Venezuela or, perhaps, feeling normal human empathy. It takes much work to get past the usual images we receive in the US.

    But this “strangulation through sanctions” is nothing less than war and murder, it is not reasonable national policy, diplomacy, and it is not resolving anything, only increasing suffering. Not a single US American would justify or welcome similar sanctions against the US if such actions imperiled our lives.

    This is saying the obvious, but dear Lord, we need to awaken to such things!

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