By Nino Pagliccia
March 20, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - In discussing
the issue of “sanctions” there are two main points
that need to be made. One is the use of the correct
terminology when referring to the government actions
that the US, Canada and the EU take in order to
achieve regime change. The second is of course the
impact that those actions have.
The blame of imposing “sanctions” falls fully on
the US government as it currently applies them to 39
countries! However, throughout, when I refer to the
US “sanctions”, particularly in the Venezuelan
context, I also mean to include Canada as well as
the EU as willing accomplices and accountable
First of all I would like to correct the
terminology that is used. We often are coopted into
the use of the language of the empire but we have to
be alerted to the fact that empires write history
based on their “vision” of the world as conquerors.
When the empire and the colonial powers to which
we have referred above put words in our mouths, they
also aim to put thoughts in our minds. This will
certainly mislead our perception of the facts.
For example, it is almost inevitable to see
references to Cuba in the corporate media as
“communist-run Cuba”. But there is never a reference
to the US as “capitalist-run United States”. While
both statements are correct, the former needs to be
emphasised to imply something “wrong”, the latter is
ignored as the acceptable norm.
Another example is the use of “regime” to imply
an authoritarian or illegitimate government, whereas
the term “democracies” is used to describe
governments that are close to the neoliberal
Our first revolutionary act is to be aware and
resist any attempt at brainwashing and weakening of
our anti-imperialist outlook.
The dominant use of the word “sanctions” for the
criminal actions that are being committed under that
label is a euphemism. It hides the fact that the
so-called sanctions are a crime, are an act of war,
are illegal, break all established international
laws, and are inhuman, be it in Venezuela or
This is the dictionary meaning of sanctions:
“provisions of a law enacting a penalty for
disobedience or a reward for obedience”.
“Penalty”! Penalty for what? For not submitting?
For resisting domination? Where is the court case?
Who is the judge? Where is the evidence that
justifies the “penalty”?
“Disobedience”! “Obedience”! To whom? The US?
Canada? The EU? The so-called Lima Group?
In the context of US and other powers application
of the terminology is simply an outrageous abuse of
power. Only the sovereign people can be the judges
of their own governments and will “penalise or
reward” using their democratic norms. Everybody else
should stay out of it.
The use of this language in the geopolitical
context is simply old colonial language. It is
inconceivable in the 21st century! As it has been
inconceivable for the last 500 years of colonialism
in this continent.
That can only be interpreted as a demand for
submission and surrendering of sovereignty.
If we accept that, we are accepting submission
and domination by the dominant powers. Because
that’s what “sanctions” imply.
What they call “sanctions” we call them by their
proper name: Unilateral coercive measures.
They are “unilateral” because they do not imply a
relationship with another as in bilateral or
multilateral relations. It is a one-sided decision.
There is no negotiation between two or more parties
before an action is taken. The bully unilaterally
strikes the victim. To give it an appearance of
legality both the US and the neo-colonial countries
have created their own laws as tools of aggression
against the imaginary enemy. They have created
enemies to justify their laws. To further justify
the untenable position the bully dominant powers
join in agreements like in the cases of the
US-Canada agreement or the “Lima Group” to ostracise
the victim, Venezuela.
And they apply “coercive measures” of their
choice to force individuals, governments and
institutions to follow their diktat. None of them
are the real enemies, except in their own
ideologically confused imagination.
More abusively, their laws are applied
extraterritorially. And this is against any norm of
international relations. Just recently, the US has
applied extraterritorial unilateral coercive
measures against the Russian oil company Rosneft for
buying and shipping Venezuelan oil. The US has also
imposed fines against a Swiss company associated
We have witnessed for almost 60 years one of the
longest unilateral coercive measures against any
country in the case of the blockade of Cuba. Now the
imperial history is repeated in Venezuela and other
countries like Nicaragua. US coercive measures have
been imposed on Nicaragua police force over ‘violent
A few days ago we read that the “US House
of Representatives pushed through a
Nicaragua regime-change bill with zero
opposition”. This is a bill sponsored by
hardliners that ramps up US economic warfare
and regime-change measures against
Nicaragua’s elected government.
All seems to indicate that Latin America is still
the victim of the US Monroe Doctrine.
Referring specifically to Venezuela. What is the
economic impact of US coercive measures on
The US has imposed an oil blockade that has
blocked the purchase of oil from Venezuela’s state
oil company, PDVSA. It has also confiscated
Venezuela’s US subsidiary CITGO, worth $8 billion.
This is a huge blow for Venezuela, which received
90% of government revenue from the oil industry.
The U.S. government has also frozen $5.5 billion
of Venezuelan funds in international accounts in at
least 50 banks and financial institutions.
All sources of international borrowing options
like the IMF and World Bank are also out of reach
due to the financial blockade. Even if Venezuela
could borrow money abroad, the United States has
long blocked international trade by threatening
“sanctions” on foreign companies for doing business
with the country.
What is the human cost to Venezuelans, the
According to a recent report by authors Weisbrot
and Sachs of the Washington-based Center for
Economic and Policy Research, more than 300,000
people are estimated to be at risk because of lack
of access to medicines or treatment. That includes
16,000 people who need dialysis, 16,000 cancer
patients, and roughly 80,000 people with HIV.
More dramatically, the same authors, in their
2019 paper titled “Economic sanctions as collective
punishment: The case of Venezuela”, also claim that
“sanctions” have inflicted […] very serious harm to
human life and health, including an estimated more
than 40,000 deaths from 2017-2018. But the US has
imposed escalating measures since 2015.
The authors conclude that “sanctions reduced the
public’s caloric intake, increased disease and
mortality (for both adults and infants), and
displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the
country as a result of the worsening economic
depression and hyperinflation.”
Further, about 15%-20% of Venezuelans have
limited access to drinking water in their homes,
because the government cannot acquire new
foreign-built parts to fix broken pumps and pipes.
Water is shipped by trucks weekly to needy
communities. But the blockade, and the lack of parts
for vehicles, is also impacting the number of
water trucks that can be kept running. In some cases
the fleet of trucks has been reduced by 75% over the
last 3-4 years, to now only a handful of trucks.
The situation is getting worse with the
increasing economic and financial blockade that the
“sanctions” enforce reaching a limit that borders
cruelty and even criminality. In the current
circumstances Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek
William Saab denounced a few days ago that coercive
and unilateral measures imposed by the United States
prevent the purchase of drugs and supplies to
confront the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When foreign minister Jorge Arreaza called on the
International Criminal Court last February to open
an investigation into coercive measures imposed on
Venezuela by the Trump administration he said, “With
punishing ‘sanctions’, the Trump administration has
given “a death sentence to tens of thousands of
Venezuelans per year.”
He also said, “We are convinced that the
consequences of the unilateral measures constitute
crimes against humanity, against the civilian
population.” And the US has violated “international
law and human rights”.
In conclusion, we agree and we will continue
accusing the empire and all neo-colonial powers.
- “Sanctions” are
unilateral coercive measures.
- “Sanctions” kill.
- “Sanctions” are a crime.
- “Sanctions” are an act of war.
- “Sanctions” are a tool of
hybrid war on Venezuela and other sovereign
Socialism is NOT hurting Venezuela, the so-called
In fact, if it were not for Venezuela’s
determination to implement socialism, Venezuelans
would suffer tremendously more. Venezuelans are
protected by the policies of the Nicolas Maduro
government and the Bolivarian Revolution.
Based on a speech delivered at a rally
against “sanctions” delivered in Vancouver, March
13, 2020 - "Source"
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