Citizen Action Monitor

OTTAWA COMPLICIT? — Horrendous impact of US sanctions on economy and health of Venezuelans

Washington boasts about hardship they have caused — By UN definition, it’s “genocide,” alleges The Lancet.

No 2481 Posted by fw, June 17, 2019

“Since 2014, 43 unilateral, coercive measures have been applied against Venezuela by the US Administration. These have effectively paralyzed the economy, blocked oil exportation globally, and frozen Venezuelan financial assets abroad while denying access to international financial systems. This loss in oil revenue and assets has amounted to a shortfall worth billions of US dollars, prohibiting the importation of essential, lifesaving products. … Given the intentional action to destroy a people, in part or in whole, the US economic sanctions and their effect on the preventable mortality of Venezuelans fit the UN definition of genocide.”The Lancet

About The Lancet – It began as an independent, international weekly general medical journal founded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley. Since its first issue (October 5, 1823), the journal has strived to make science widely available so that medicine can serve, and transform society, and positively impact the lives of people.

As if the situation in Venezuela were not grave enough, the latest shocking news out of Ottawa is that Global Affairs Canada has hired a “hit man” to “… conduct outreach with partner states to build support for Canada’s position on Venezuela.” And responsibly informed Canadians know what Canada’s position on Venezuela is  – At the very least, sanctions on Venezuela, support for Juan Guaidó, and calls for the removal of Maduro as President. During Guaidó’s botched coup attempt, Chrystia Freeland issued this deceitful statement to the press: “Venezuelans are in the streets today demonstrating their desire for a return to democracy even in the face of a violent crackdown. Canada commends their courage and we call on the Maduro regime to step aside now.

By virtue of their aggressive support of horrendous US sanctions, Trudeau and Freeland now have Venezuelan blood on their hands, the blood of an estimated 40,000 Venezuelan deaths.

Below is my repost of The Lancet’s article, including my added subheadings, inline hyperlinks to cited works, and bulletted formatting to enhance readability.

Alternatively, click on the following linked title to read the piece on The Lancet’s website.

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US sanctions in Venezuela: help, hindrance, or violation of human rights? By Tanya Zakrison and Carles Muntaner. The Lancet, June 13, 2019

Coercive US pressure on Venezuela has paralyzed its economy

We read with interest the Review about Venezuela’s public health crisis and could not agree more emphatically with the authors. However, the root causes of this economic crisis, specifically, the impact of the US economic sanctions, deserve further inquiry.

  • Since 2014, 43 unilateral, coercive measures have been applied against Venezuela by the US Administration.
  • These have effectively paralyzed the economy, blocked oil exportation globally, and frozen Venezuelan financial assets abroad while denying access to international financial systems.
  • This loss in oil revenue and assets has amounted to a shortfall worth billions of US dollars, prohibiting the importation of essential, lifesaving products.

Horrendous impact of US sanctions on health of Venezuelan population

The impact of the US sanctions on the Venezuelan population cannot be overstated.

US economic sanctions fit the UN definition of genocide

The UN Human Rights Council reported that “the use of economic sanctions for political purposes violates human rights and the norms of international behavior. Such actions may precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes of unprecedented proportions. Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation, has never been an accepted practice of international relations.” [5]

US State Department boasts about the economic hardship they have caused Venezuelan Government

Furthermore, the US State Department recently boasted about the economic hardship that they have caused through their now expunged communiqué, released on April 24, 2019. [7]

  • They assert that “US policy has and continues to prevent the Venezuelan Government from participating in the international market and has led to the freezing of its overseas assets”. [7]
  • US National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that they are backing the illegal coup in Venezuela, as “it will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela”. [8]
  • As the sanctions caused the overall loss of $38 billion in the past 3 years, [9]
  • more cuts in imports of medicine, food, medical equipment, and inputs necessary to maintain water, health, and sanitation infrastructure are foreseeable in the immediate future. [9]
  • These measures will undoubtedly cause further grievous harm to the Venezuelan population. [3]

American scholars call for an end to US sanctions and intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs

Global peace is fragile given the bellicose stance of the US Government in provoking destabilization in multiple countries as we head into an election year. Public health practitioners have a long tradition of resoundingly condemning the collective punishment of populations, the violation of international law, and the premature death and suffering that result from punitive economic measures. In fact, we have been successful at building bridges of mutual respect and understanding between populations when government-level diplomacy has failed—for example with the case of Cuba. [10]  Pointing to the economic failures of Venezuela as justification for further economic sanctions, causing further economic failures, is a cyclical, fallacious argument and not a legitimate public health approach. We agree with the open letter of American scholars who call for the non-intervention of the USA in the internal affairs of Venezuela, an end to the sanctions, and a negotiated settlement free of foreign coercion. [11]  Our role as public health practitioners is to avert population-level harm caused by our policies, both at home and abroad, while seriously investigating the upstream (and root) causes of the causes.

References

1/ Venezuela’s public health crisis: a regional emergency, by Page, KR et al. Lancet. 2019; 393: 1254-1260

2/ Economic sanctions as collective punishment. The case of Venezuela, by Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington; 2019

3/ Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador by UN Human Rights Council, August 3, 2018

4/ Second Venezuelan child dies as US blockade stops transplant by teleSUR, May 24, 2019

5/ US sanctions violate human rights and international code of conduct, UN expert says, by ACNUDH, May 6, 2019

6/ Genocide, by UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, June 6, 2019

7/ Fact sheet: US actions on Venezuela, by US Department of State, June 6, 2019

8/ John Bolton: “Big difference” if “US oil companies invest in & produce oil in Venezuela,” by A. Rowell,

9/ Venezuela loses $38 billion for US sanctions, by ICSLATAM, June 6, 2019

10/ US-Cuba Health and Science Cooperation: They Persisted, by The Editors of MEDICC Review, MEDICC Rev. 2018; 20: 4-5

11/ Open letter by over 70 scholars and experts condemns US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela, by Noam Chomsky, Open Democracy, May 31, 2019

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