[News] Washington Plans Further Actions against Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 30 10:36:01 EDT 2011

Washington Plans Further Actions against Venezuela
by Eva Golinger


The US government has been increasing aggressive 
actions against the Chavez administration in an 
attempt to isolate the major petroleum-producing 
nation and aid in ousting the Venezuelan President.

During a hearing last Friday, June 24, in the 
Foreign Relations Committee of the House of 
Representatives regarding "Sanctionable 
Activities in Venezuela," Democrats and 
Republicans requested the Obama administration 
take more aggressive actions against the 
government of Hugo Chavez.  The head of the 
Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs for the Western 
a Florida Republican, branded the Venezuelan 
government "terrorist," saying "it's time to act 
to contain the dangerous influence of Hugo Chavez and his relations with Iran."

Mack is known for his rabid anti-Chavez 
stance.  But however "obsessed" he may seem with 
the Venezuelan President, the Republican 
congressman does have influence in the 
legislature due to his high ranking in the 
Foreign Relations Committee.  His efforts, along 
with those of the head of the Foreign Relations 
Committee, Florida Republican Ileana 
Ros-Lehtinen, convinced the White House to impose 
sanctions against Venezuela's state oil company, 
Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) last May 
24.  Mack has said that his only objective this year is "get Hugo Chavez."

Last Friday's hearing, devoted entirely to 
Venezuela, was attended by senior officials of 
Department and the Treasury Department's 
of Foreign Assets Control.  In testimony before 
the Committee, the Assistant Under-Secretary of 
State for Latin America, 
Whitaker, revealed the Obama administration is 
"seriously considering" labeling Venezuela a 
"terrorist state."  "No option is off the table 
and the Department will continue to study any 
further action as may be necessary in the future," said Whitaker.

The unilateral sanctions imposed on PDVSA came 
under the 
Iran Sanctions Act and include the prohibition of 
entering into contracts with the US government, 
loans from the US Import-Export Bank, and certain 
technological licenses and patents.

Nonetheless, this hostile action towards 
Venezuela did not have any real economic impact 
against the South American country because it no 
longer has agreements with the US government or 
loans from US banks.  Furthermore, the sanctions 
did not affect the important oil supply from 
Venezuela to the US or the operations of PDVSA's 
subsidiary in US territory, CITGO.

However, the sanctions had an impact on 
diplomatic relations between Caracas and 
Washington, which were already in a period of 
deterioration.  After the latter's aggressive 
actions, the Venezuelan government declared 
relations with the United States "frozen."

According to the State Department, sanctions 
against PDVSA, while not impacting the country 
economically, "give a message to the world that 
it is dangerous to do business with Venezuela and 
PDVSA," indicating that, in the near future, 
Washington could act against those who enter into 
contracts or agreements with Venezuelan companies.

The lawmakers also demanded the State Department 
impose sanctions against the Venezuelan airline 
CONVIASA because of what they consider "support 
for terrorism," based on flights between Caracas, 
Syria, and Iran.  Without a shred of evidence, 
the congress members claimed the flight, which is 
no longer operating, was "carrying radioactive 
material, weapons, drugs and known terrorists of Hezbollah and Iran."

To support this dangerous "accusation," they 
cited a German newspaper, 
Welt, which had falsely published days before 
that Venezuela and Iran were building a missile 
base in western Venezuela to "attack the United 
States."  In response to this misinformation, 
President Hugo Chavez showed footage of a 
windmill farm in the same location where 
"sources" had indicated the fictional Iranian military base was located.

Congress also implored the State Department to 
consider applying more sanctions against 
Venezuela, including "a ban on US imports" and 
"transactions in dollars."  Representatives of 
the White House said that although they are 
considering further action against the government 
of Hugo Chavez, which they consider to be "an 
adversarial government," they must take into 
account the significant supply of Venezuelan oil, 
which comprises 15% of US imports.  Just days 
ago, President Barack Obama authorized oil 
exploitation in an environmentally protected area 
in Alaska, indicating that Washington is seeking 
to secure its energy needs before breaking the relationship with Venezuela.

In addition to the sanctions imposed against 
PDVSA in May, Washington already has taken 
aggressive actions against the Venezuelan 
government.  In June 2006, the US classified 
Venezuela as a country that "does not cooperate 
sufficiently with the fight against terrorism" 
and imposed sanctions prohibiting US arms sales 
to Venezuela or those from any company in the world using US technology.

Since 2005, Washington also has classified 
Venezuela as a country that does not "cooperate 
in the fight against drug trafficking," which 
should carry a financial penalty against the 
South American country.  Yet, Washington 
clarified that, since Venezuela has no loans in 
the US, the only support that could be cut would 
millions of dollars 
annually to opposition groups who work to 
undermine the Chavez government.  In order to 
avoid reducing those funds, the US included an 
exception to this penalty, stating it "would not 
affect US economic support to "pro-democracy 
civil society organizations," thus ensuring 
continued support for the destabilization of Venezuela.

In 2007, the US Treasury Department sanctioned 
three senior Venezuelan officials, accusing them 
of ties to terrorism and drug trafficking, though 
the allegations were unsubstantiated.  The 
officials included the Director of Military 
Intelligence, General Hugo Carvajal, ex-Director 
of Bolivarian Intelligence (SEBIN), General Henry 
Rangel, and ex-Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin.

The following year, the Treasury Department 
designated two Venezuelans of Syrian origin, 
Fawzi Kan'an and Ghazi Nasr al Din, as providing 
material support for terrorism based on alleged 
links to Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the United States.

All indications are that Washington will continue 
to increase aggression against Venezuela with 
future sanctions and attempts to demonize, 
isolate, and discredit the Chavez administration.

Eva Golinger is the author of 
Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in 
Venezuela and 
versus Chávez: Washington's War on 
Venezuela.  Read Golinger's blog Postcards from 
the Revolution at 

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