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      Imperialists Tighten Sanctions Against Venezuela

      By Alison Bodine

      When the people of Venezuela re-elected Nicolás Maduro as the President of Venezuela on May 20, 2018, they knew that this would mean more foreign sanctions would be coming. Immediately following the election, the governments of the U.S. and Canada followed through on their threats and did just that; imposed further sanctions in an attempt force the overthrow of the independent and democratically elected government of Venezuela.

      Then, on June 25, 2018, the 28 countries of the European Union (E.U.) added 11 Venezuelans to their list of persons facing an asset freeze and travel ban. In their decision to impose further sanctions, the E.U. claims that the “listed are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela,” for which they provide no evidence. They also claim that the May 20 elections “were neither free nor fair and their outcome lacked any credibility as the electoral process did not ensure the necessary guarantees for them to be inclusive and democratic,” for which they also provide zero proof.

      In response, the government of Venezuela issued a statement exposing the shameful intentions of the European Union. The statement declares that imposing sanctions, “constitutes a clear interference in the sovereign affairs of our country, by adopting alleged restrictive measures contrary to international law” And that “The European Union undermines political peace in Venezuela by meddling in its internal affairs and endeavoring to apply coercive measures that undermine tranquility and dialogue between Venezuelans.”

      The Venezuelans on this list include the new Vice President of Venezuela, and leader of the Bolivarian revolutionary process, Delcy Rodríguez, who they have accused of undermining “democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.” In response, Delcy Rodríguez sent out three powerful Tweets (@DRodriguez_en), directed right at the European Union and Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the E.U. for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

      “1. Personal message to the European Union vis-a-vis its illegal measures: As a Venezuelan woman committed to the defence of my Homeland, I ratify my determination to defend the rights to Peace, democracy, national independence and selfdetermination; rights that I have as a citizen of this great country. 2. No threat, arbitrary extortion measure of blackmail will distract me from my commitment to the history of freedom, dignity and sovereignty inherited by Simon Bolivar! The old imperial world will never yield my determination as a Venezuelan to love the Nation where I was born. 3. I take this opportunity to authorize Senior Representative @FedericaMog [Federica Mogherini] to dispose, on my behalf, of these alleged assets, which don’t exist, indeed! And assign them to the migration crisis provoked with your belligerent, racist and xenophobic policies!”

      Why is the E.U. Targeting Venezuela?

      The day that the sanctions were announced, right-wing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio took to Twitter to “congratulate” the E.U. for their illegal actions.

      However, contrary to the claims of the U.S., Canada and the E.U., the May 20 election was free and fair. President Nicolas Maduro was re-elected with 68% of the vote, in a fully-electronic and audited election using an election process that has been declared by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as “the best in the world.”

      In fact, what they are angry about is that the victory of President Maduro has put the revolutionary movement in Venezuela in a better position. This has made imperialist governments, like the United States and their allies, more afraid of what is going to happen in Venezuela. They are increasingly concerned about their interests and investments in Venezuela and therefore are working harder to force the government of Venezuela to take on more capitalist measures.

      This is the point of the sanctions: to tighten the screws against the Venezuelan economy until the government and the people of Venezuela cave into the pressure and hardship, and Venezuela is forced to abandon the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Imperialist governments want to stop the government of Venezuela from moving to the left and taking more radical and revolutionary measures that strengthen Venezuela’s independence, sovereignty and influence in the region.

      20 Years of Revolution - 20 Years of Imperialist Attack

      Since the election of Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela has pursued a path that is independent of the interests and policies of the U.S. government and their allies in Latin America. Inspired by the nearly 60 years of the Cuban revolution, the revolutionary government of Venezuela has taken a stand for their sovereignty and self-determination, and this has encouraged movements and governments across the region to do the same.

      This strengthening of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement across Latin America has created huge fear and anxiety among imperialist governments. This is why for the last 20 years, the governments of the U.S., Canada and Europe and their rightwing allies in Latin America have battered Venezuela with attempted coup d’états, economic sabotage, criminal sanctions, violence, and outright violations of the laws, constitution and sovereignty of Venezuela on top of constant threats of military intervention.

      One of the most blatant examples of this was the 2002 attempted coup d’état against President Chavez. The coup d’état was a complete failure, and within 48 hours President Chavez was returned to office by massive protests and organization of the people of Venezuela. The U.S. government was the biggest loser in the illegal and violent attack - as their role in supporting the coup plotters was completely exposed.

      Since 2002, U.S. intervention in Venezuela and support for Venezuela’s counter-revolutionary, violent opposition has continued to escalate. This opposition has repeatedly initiated violent street riots in Venezuela that have killed hundreds of people. Most of the financial support for the opposition, has been funnelled through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the National Republican Institute (NRI), which puts money directly in the hands of these pro-U.S. mercenaries under the guise of supporting the promotion of “democracy” and “human rights” in Venezuela. The U.S. government has directed hundreds of millions of dollars to this effort, including at least $25million from 2001-2006 (New York Times) and at least $49million since 2009 (TeleSUR).

      The Organization of American States (OAS) has also been used by the U.S. government as a tool for intervention in Venezuela. For more than three years, the U.S. government and their allies have been maneuvering to suspend or remove Venezuela from the regional body, which by the way, is based in Washington DC. However, on June 5, 2018, the proU.S. intervention countries, which includes Canada, lost yet another vote. Out of the 34 member-states, only 15 voted in favour of removing Venezuela for so-called violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This type of measure requires 24 votes in favour. This shameful attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Venezuela is even more disgraceful considering that the SecretaryGeneral of the OAS, Luis Almagro, has continued to attempt to remove Venezuela from the organization, even though Venezuela began proceedings to leave the OAS by their own accord, and will be gone by April 2019.

      Sanctions are an Act of War

      In 2015, U.S. President Obama issued an Executive Order declaring Venezuela an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security. This ridiculous assertion, which was renewed by President Trump, has enabled the U.S. government to implement a criminal regime of sanctions against Venezuela. These sanctions and amount to an illegal act of war by implementing collective punishment on the people of Venezuela for expressing their right to choose their government and shape their society.

      The criminal sanctions against Venezuela, levelled by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland and Panama, have had a devastating impact on the Venezuelan economy and the people of Venezuela. They prevent Venezuela’s ability to import vital foods and medicine, while at the same time cutting Venezuela off from receiving payments for their exports, cutting them off from financing and limiting their access to foreign currency.

      In March 2018 Sures, a Venezuelan civil society, the non-governmental organization issued a report titled “Unilateral Coercive Measures Against Venezuela and Its Impact on Human Rights.” This important report documents the damaging effect that sanctions have had on the people of Venezuela. They especially report on the impact on the health of the people of Venezuela ± including cases where the government of Venezuela has been blocked from paying for life-sustaining imported medicines such as 300,000 doses of insulin.

      As reported by Sures, “Venezuela imports most of the medicines it requires to guarantee the life and health of its inhabitants. 34% is purchased from the USA, 7% from Spain and 5% from Italy. Only of these countries that have applied unilateral coercive measures to Venezuela were imported a total of 46% of the medicines needed by the Venezuelan people. The same thing happens with food, 33% of imports come from the USA and 12% from Canada. That is, 45% of food imports originated from states that have maintained a policy of greater confrontation and have applied the greatest amount of economic sanctions against Venezuela.”

      This report also outlines how the sanctions also target Venezuela’s oil sector, and the “Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), the main state company having the monopoly of hydrocarbon exploitation on the nation that generates more than the 90% of the income in foreign currency in the country.”

      The effects of these sanctions have been further exasperated by the economic war that Venezuela’s capitalist class is waging against the mass majority of the people of Venezuela. This further attempt to “starve the people of Venezuela into submission” has been manifested in hoarding, a slow-down in the production of basic goods and food in Venezuela as well as the growth of massive smuggling operations that bring super-profits to criminals and Venezuela’s rich.

      Defend the Sovereignty and SelfDetermination of Venezuela!

      In the last week of June, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence toured throughout Latin America. He explained clearly his intentions with the tour during his speech to the Organization of American States (OAS) in the beginning of June, “I call on member states to apply additional pressure on the Maduro regime with financial sanctions and diplomatic isolation until such time as it takes the actions necessary to return genuine democracy and provide people desperately needed access to international humanitarian aid.”

      Let us not be fooled by the deceptions of the U.S. government and their allies, when they speak the language of “human rights” and “democracy.” Imperialist governments are following the same recipe for U.S.- sponsored “regime change” that they did in 2006, “Strengthening Democratic Institutions, Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, Dividing Chavismo, Protecting Vital US business, and Isolating Chavez internationally” (from a 2006 diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks).

      The U.S.-led campaign to tighten the screws against the Venezuelan economy, overthrow the government of Venezuela, and reverse the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process is intensifying. As poor and working people in North America, we must organize to put an end to the criminal sanctions of the United States and Canada against Venezuela. We have the responsibility to defend Venezuela’s right to sovereignty and self-determination. We must actively and consistently mobilize in opposition to the U.S. and foreign intervention in Venezuela.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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