For Western Imperial Liberals, US Sanctions Kill Venezuelans, but the Price Is Worth It

by Joe Emersberger


David Smilde, in a New York Times op-ed, stated that a US military invasion of Venezuela would be "folly." Actually it would be a major crime, but liberals very rarely describe the barbarism of their own government properly.

Hence Madeleine Albright's infamous slip-up when she said publicly that 5,000 dead Iraqi children per month from US-imposed sanctions was "worth it." The fact that a huge crime is causally discussed in the NYT op-ed section by Smilde also speaks volumes about the perversion of political culture.

Smilde supports US economic sanctions against Venezuela, which is going through a major economic crisis. In other words, he supports making the crisis worse to give "leverage" to the opposition. Incidentally, almost nobody cares to notice, but such US sanctions are illegal.

On Twitter, Smilde (who blocked me in 2015 immediately after I wrote a piece criticizing him) angrily responded to a critic by conceding that "sanctions kill."

According to the opposition–aligned pollster Datanalisis, which Smilde relies on to claim that he is speaking for 80 percent of Venezuelans, the majority of Venezuelans oppose the sanctions he advocates. Smilde is, however, too dishonest to have mentioned this in his New York Times piece.

Moreover, how many politicians in the United States would dare advocate – or even refrain from vehemently rejecting – foreign sanctions on their own country at any time, never mind during a depression? That goes a long way towards explaining the opposition's humiliating defeat in October's regional elections – as one would learn from reading Francisco Rodriguez, a vastly more honest and rational opponent of the Venezuelan government than Smilde.

In December, Datanalisis reported that 55.6 percent "strongly disagree" with US sanctions. Earlier in 2017, Datanalisis found similarly high levels of disagreement with other tactics, including opposition leaders lobbying foreign banks not to loan to the government.

Failed Economic Policies

Smilde is certainly correct that failed economic policies are lethal: they are, throughout the region. If Smilde accepted that inexcusable poverty, failed economic policies and human rights abuses justify sanctions, then he'd be forcefully advocating them against Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and many other countries – including, of course, his own.

And who does Smilde think he is fooling with his emphasis on US allies? Not arguing for the United States to "be at the center of responses to Venezuela's problems"? Yeah, right.

Smilde cannot be ignorant enough to believe that sanctions against Venezuela by Canada and others, but rejected by the United States, would have any significant impact. That would be like believing the United States was a bit player in the "coalition" that invaded Iraq.

Torino Capital pointed out in early January: "There are currently 26 outstanding foreign currency bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or state-owned companies, with a total face value of US$64.9bn. All foreign-currency bonds are denominated in dollars, and all are governed by New York law."

One should recall that, a few years ago, a rogue judge in New York was able to effectively impose serious economic sanctions on Argentina on behalf of "vulture funds" while Cristina Fernandez was in power. The Supreme Court, the Obama administration and the International Monetary Fund simply looked the other way.

The US government does not have the muscle it had in the 1950s, but its courts and financial sector can still wield illegitimate authority and do tremendous damage throughout the world.

The important role that allies such as Canada play is to provide political cover for US belligerence and lawlessness. That was dramatically illustrated when the Bush administration overthrew Haiti's democratically elected government in 2004.

Smilde tossing around allegations of "racism" and "dehumanizing people" is simply projection. It's hardly an original point to make, but it's worth repeating: a person as racist and stupid as Trump did not end up in the White House because only one part of the US establishment is rotten.

Source: https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/David-Smilde-US-Sanctions-Kill-Venezuelans-But-Its-Worth-It-20180119-0023.html

Maduro has twelve victories of 2017

To begin with, we must remember that President Nicolás Maduro is the most unjustly harassed, slandered and assaulted president in the history of Venezuela. Even more than Hugo Chávez himself, founder of the Bolivarian Revolution ... Ousting Nicolás Maduro from the Miraflores palace by whatever means has been and is the unhealthy goal of the internal reactionary opposition and its powerful international allies, especially the government of the States United of America.
Maduro comes out stronger in 2017

As soon as 2017 began, the attacks against the President started immediately. The first aggression came from the National Assembly, controlled by counterrevolutionary forces, who decided on Jan. 9 to "disavow" the President and accused Nicolas Maduro of having "abandoned his position" - something false and absurd.

Faced with this attempt at a constitutional coup d'état -inspired by the parliamentary coup model that overthrew Dilma Rousseff in Brazil in 2016 - the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) intervened to point out that, under the Constitution, the National Assembly cannot dismiss the head of state, directly elected by the people.

For his part, the President responded to that coup attempt by organizing a massive civic-military exercise called "Zamora 200 integral anti-imperialist action" on Jan. 14. Some 600,000 were mobilized including military, militiamen and militants of social movements, and in doing so gave an impressive demonstration of the unity between the armed forces, the government, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the popular masses. That was the first victory of 2017.

Encouraged by the election in the United States of Donald Trump - candidate of the right-wing who took office in Washington on Jan. 20, the Venezuelan opposition tried to intimidate the Maduro government with a large march in Caracas on Jan. 23, the date of the fall of the dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958. But here they failed pathetically. This was because, among other reasons, President Maduro had responded by organizing on the same day the transfer of the remains of Fabricio Ojeda, revolutionary leader during the overthrow of Pérez Jiménez, to the National Pantheon. At the call of the president, hundreds of thousands of Caracas residents flocked to fill the avenues of the capital. And it was possible to clearly see how popular Chavismo dominates the streets, while the opposition exhibited its divisions and squalor. That was President Maduro's second victory.

Shortly after the Supreme Court intervened to emphasize that the National Assembly was in a situation of "contempt" since 2016. As should be recalled, in the legislative elections of Dec. 6, 2015, there were allegations of fraud in Amazonas state. The claims were backed up by recordings in which the secretary of the state government offered sums of money to groups of voters to vote for opposition candidates. Consequently, the TSJ suspended the election of those legislators. But the National Assembly persisted in swearing them in, because the addition of these three additional members of the assembly would have given the opposition an absolute majority (two thirds of the lawmakers) and the power to repeal organic laws and to limit the action of the President himself ...

Tensions between a Parliament and a Supreme Court are relatively frequent in all large democracies. In Europe, for example, when a constitutional conflict arises between branches of government, it is common for the Supreme Court to assume powers of Parliament. And in the United States, even such an esoteric president as Donald Trump has had to abide by recent decisions of the Supreme Court …

But in Caracas, the counterrevolutionary forces used that debate to relaunch an international campaign on the alleged "absence of democracy in Venezuela." With the complicity of the new U.S. Administration, they mounted a colossal, global media lynching operation against Nicolas Maduro. Mobilizing dominant media outlets from CNN and Fox News to the BBC in London, along with the major media houses in Latin America and the Caribbean, the most influential global newspapers, pillars of conservative communication hegemony, as well as social media networks.
At the same time, the Venezuelan right wing maneuvered with the intention of internationalizing the internal conflict by transferring it to the Organization of American States (OAS) - "the ministry of the colonies of the United States," according to Che Guevara. Obeying the slogans of the new government of Donald Trump and with the support of several conservative regimes in Latin America, Luis Almagro, secretary general of the OAS, assumed the deplorable role of leading the demand that the application of the Democratic Charter against Venezuela.

But Caracas counterattacked at once and secured the diplomatic solidarity of most of the Latin American and Caribbean States. Despite the dishonest schemes and false arguments of the Secretary General of the OAS, Venezuela was never put in a minority position and won irrefutably. And the enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution, including Washington, were defeated by the solid strategy enacted by President Maduro, based on facts and reality, political honesty and ethics. Finally, in April, Caracas decided to withdraw from the OAS, accusing the organization of "intrusive actions against the sovereignty of Venezuela." With imagination and audacity, in this complex international scenario, Nicolas Maduro achieved his third great victory in 2017.
Meanwhile, tensions increased in Caracas when, on March 29, the Constitutional Chamber of the TSJ declared that "as long as the situation of contempt and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persists, this Constitutional Chamber will ensure that parliamentary powers are exercised directly for this Chamber or for the body that it designates, to ensure the rule of law." Previously, the TSJ had already pointed out that the parliamentary immunity of the deputies "only covers themselves during the exercise of their functions," which was not the case when the National Assembly is "in contempt"...

The anti-Chavez opposition cried to the heavens. And with the help, once again, of conservative forces internationally went on to propel a seditious counter-revolutionary plan. The long and tragic "crisis of the guarimbas" began. For four interminable months - from April to July - the counterrevolutionaries launched the most desperate and brutal war offensive against the Bolivarian Government. Funded in dollars by the international right, the anti-Chavez forces - led by Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, two far right-wing organizations - did not hesitate to use paramilitaries, terrorists and mercenaries of organized crime in a deployment of simultaneous irregular tactics, along with elite experts in psychological warfare and "democratic" propaganda. All with the pathological purpose of overthrowing Nicolas Maduro.

Drunk with violence, the rioters rushed to assault Venezuelan democracy. They attacked, burned and destroyed hospitals, health centers, nurseries, schools, high schools, maternity hospitals, food and medicine stores, government offices, hundreds of private businesses, subway stations, buses, public infrastructure, while the barricades multiplied in the bourgeois urbanities they controlled.

The violent groups, throwing Molotov cocktails, were particular in their targeting of security forces. Five officials were shot to death. On the other hand, many 'guarimberos' showed terrible savagery by mounting tensed, fine steel cables on public roads to behead motorcyclists ... Or when, overflowing with hatred and racism, they burned young Chavistas alive - 29 in total, of which nine died. The result: one hundred and twenty-one people killed, thousands injured and millions of dollars lost.

During those four months of counterrevolutionary rapture, the opposition also made calls to attack military bases, and tried to push the armed forces to turn against the legitimate government and to assault the presidential palace. The extreme right, intent on a coup, tried everything to start a civil war, fracture the civic-military union, and destroy Venezuelan democracy.

At the same time, on an international scale, the frantic media campaign continued, presenting those who burned hospitals, murdered innocents, destroyed schools and burned people alive as "heroes of freedom." It was the world in reverse - the world of 'post-truths' and 'alternative facts' ...

It was not easy to resist so much terror, so much aggression, and restore public order with a vision of democratic authority, proportionality and respect for human rights. The constitutional and legitimate President Nicolas Maduro got it, and he acheived what seemed impossible: an exit from the labyrinth of violence. He did so aith a great idea that nobody expected but upset and disconcerted the opposition: a return to the original constituent power.

Read more: https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-12-Victories-of-Venezuelan-President-Maduro-in-2017-20180102-0009.html

Venezuela, Towards New Victories


Statement by Adán Chávez Frías


We are in the presence of the greatest imperial offensive against democracy and self-determination of the peoples. The unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Israeli State by the Trump Administration is a risk for peace in the region and in the world.

This White House decision, together with others that contradict the entire legal framework on which the system of international relations is constructed, clearly shows us that the United States imperialism is in one of the most irrational, dangerous and warlike phases of history, ready to violate any norm, principle or law to achieve its purposes.

The reactions have taken place rapidly, and the majority of the international community has condemned this violation of International Law and of all the efforts of the United Nations Organization (UN) in search of a peaceful solution by consensus to the Palestinian conflict.

But the aggression reaches beyond. In Honduras, the United States embassy in Tegucigalpa, clearly meddling in the internal affairs of that nation, has requested Salvador Nasralla, candidate of the progressive alliance, to distance himself from the political figure of Manuel Zelaya and from any reference to chavismo or socialist democracy.

Again the United States places Central America on the border of a conflict and instability by endorsing an electoral fraud and undermining the Honduran democratic system. In the south, the Macri government has started in Argentina the judicial inquiry and criminalization of those who oppose him, unleashing the political persecution of former president and current senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other leaders connected with the period in office of that outstanding political and social leader of our Big Fatherland.

As continuation of its interventionist policy in Venezuela’s internal affairs, the Conflict and Stabilization Operations Office of the U.S. State Department paid almost one million dollars to groups of “experts” to study and design strategies aimed at trying to destroy de Bolivarian socialist project and establish a rightist government that will pave the way to the neoliberal restoration, as revealed by the U.S. media themselves a few days ago.

But we, the people, are here, resisting the blow with greater conscience, more organization, more unity and greater conviction. This is a crucial battle between the imperial fascism and the peaceful, humanistic and democratic vocation of the majority of this planet’s inhabitants. We cannot let the future generations down, because if the criterion of those that do not believe in peace and democracy were imposed, humankind would be thrown into barbarity and we would return with gigantic steps to a period of obscurantism and misery. Today more than ever we, the peoples, must be united worldwide in our struggle against imperialism and neoliberalism.

This 10th of December, 158 years after the historical battle of Saint Inés, the patriotic Venezuelan people, the people of Bolívar, Zamora and Chávez, with their participation in the municipal elections, once more confirmed their trust in the Voting Power and their conviction to continue along the road of peace and understanding, along the road of the defense of sovereignty and the right to the free determination of our destiny. We are prepared for new challenges, new scenarios, and new victories.

The year 2018 will be determinant for the Bolivarian Revolution. We assume the challenge to face and destroy treason and counterrevolution in all fields as historical process of national liberation. At this stage we must overcome the obstacles in order to ensure the continuity and advance of our socialist project on the economic sphere, developing a new production and distribution model, but likewise on the social-organizational sphere and essentially by speeding up the Cultural Revolution.

These days when Christmas is near are days of joy and family gathering, but also of reflection. In recent months we witnessed the essence of the plan that imperialism wants for our country: to drive us to chaos, death and despair. In a struggle that was not easy and which left almost 200 mortal victims, we crushed the fascist violence with the election of the new National Constituent Assembly. That was possible only thanks to the people’s social conscience, a people that, like Christ, wants peace, love, justice, welfare, respect and tolerance for all. Let us then prepare ourselves to continue cultivating the Christian values, which are also the values of this Bolivarian and chavista Revolution. Let us prepare ourselves to continue defending our Fatherland, our independence and our sovereignty.

United we will win!

With Chávez always!
Caracas, December 10th, 2017


http://www.thedawn-news.org/2017/12/14/venezuela-towards-new-victories/

Financial Agency Euroclear starving the Venezuelan people


Aims to recreate What happened in Chile in 1973


by panorama.com.ve

Euroclear is a financial services giant, handling the custody of securities, headquartered in Brussels and with customers in over 90 countries.

President Nicolas Maduro exposed on Nov. 23, 2017 that the provider of financial services Euroclear had frozen US$1.650 billion belonging to Venezuela, as a result of United States sanctions. According to the president, who described the case as a "kidnapping," it is US$450 million in cash and US$1.20 billion in securities notes to import food and medicine that are in acute shortage in the country.

The US$450 million "they have had frozen for six weeks in Euroclear ... End the sequester of Venezuelan money abroad! " said the President during a ceremony celebrating his 55th birthday. "We have in addition US$1.20 billion in bonds issued by the Republic, accepted by economic agents to sell us medicines (...) "and food, and they are holding our US$1.20 billion hostage,” he added.

Mature linked this issue to the sanctions imposed last August by the United States, prohibiting citizens of that country from negotiating new debt issued by the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA. It is "the economic war that the imperialist government of the United States has imposed and is chasing money we have in the world", he said.

A source with information on this issue and who requested anonymity, recently told AFP that the Central Bank of Venezuela had had "its operations stopped by Euroclear", including food imports. According to this version, due to sanctions from Washington, Venezuela must now comply with new requirements of the Office for the Control of Foreign Assets (OFAC) of the United States, which has hindered all transfers of funds. Euroclear "cannot put at risk its market in the United States," said the source.

Venezuela and PDVSA — that provides 96 percent of the country’s hard currency — were rated in partial default by a group of creditors and the rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch, due to delayed interest and capital payments made on its securities debt.

Suffering from cash flow problems, Venezuela is also suffering from rising inflation which the IMF projects at more than 2,300 percent for 2018.

These problems are always laid at the government door as if no external factors were in play in creating either shortages of food and medicines and stoking soaring inflation. The fact is that Euroclear is just one example of how US sanctions are paralyzing imports of vital basic goods and contributing to a possible humanitarian crisis.

Venezuelan opposition leaders such as Julio Borges and Luis Florido have asked the US to impose economic sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to oust Maduro and the ruling socialist party from power. They have even suggested that the US “should send in the marines to restore democracy and tackle the crisis”.

The situation is very similar to what happened in Chile in 1973 when Allende was overthrown. The day after Allende’s death all the products being hidden from the population reappeared in the stores with new prices; inflation subsided and a new democracy was eventually spawned years later on the back of thousands of civilian deaths and torture.

The US and its agents such as Euroclear, Citibank, JP Morgan and others are all participating in this economic attack on Venezuela simply because they want to get their hands on the oil and gold reserves and do not like the democratic decision of the Venezuelan people that refuses to elect traitors such as Borges and Florido to position of real power. None of these actors care about the suffering of the Venezuelan people since it is they, and they alone, that continue to stoke the flames of inflation and fuel the economic war.

First published in panorama.com.ve on Nov. 23, 2017.
Translated from Spanish by Arturo Rosales from Axis of Logic.