[News] Obama Could Face Another Disastrous Summit Due to Sanctions Against Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 10 17:25:32 EDT 2015

  Obama Could Face Another Disastrous Summit Due to Sanctions Against


By Mark Weisbrot - Center for Economic Policy Research, April 10th 2015

The last (2012) Summit of the Americas, in Cartagena, Colombia, was a 
disaster for President Obama. There were scandals involving Secret 
Service agents and sex workers, an increasing rebellion from the South 
against the failed U.S. “War on Drugs,” and—most of all—unanimous 
opposition to the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

The most decisive evidence that this was not just the usual suspects 
stirring up trouble was the warning from President Manuel Santos of 
Colombia—one of Washington’s few “friendlies” in the region —that there 
would not be another Summit without Cuba.

So President Obama offered up a surprise Christmas present to its 
Southern neighbors last year: after more than a half-century of 
aggression against Cuba, he would finally begin to normalize relations. 
Welcome to the 21^st  century, finally! Although Republican jihadis and 
neocons would inevitably delay the process in Congress, the White House 
publicly expressed hope that there would at least be embassies open in 
the two countries before the Summit on April 10.

But the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. On March 9 the White 
House declared a “national emergency” due to the “extraordinary threat 
to the national security” posed by Venezuela. The Obama administration 
tried to dismiss the language as a mere formality, but the world knows 
that such threatening language and accompanying sanctions can be quite 
hazardous to the designated country’s health – in the past they have 
sometimes even been followed by military action.

Most ominously in the present, at a U.S. Senate hearing 
<http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/live-blog-senate-foreign-relations-hearing-on-venezuela> on 
March 17, the State Department’s Alex Lee declared that the current 
sanctions were just the “first salvo” against Venezuela. Of course, the 
world outside of Washington knows that the sanctions have nothing to do 
with any alleged human rights violations in Venezuela. From 2000 to 
2010, the Colombian military assassinated more than 5700 innocent 
civilians; the U.S. government continued to provide literally billions 
of dollars of military and police aid.  In Honduras, the Obama 
administration took numerous steps to help ensure that the 2009 military 
coup against the democratically elected government of Mel Zelaya would 
succeed. And in Mexico, 43 students were disappeared six months ago with 
complicity of local authorities and police, and possibly federal police 
and government as well.  But the U.S. government does not appear to be 
concerned, and will not even consider reducing its military aid to Mexico.

What the sanctions also made clear, for those who didn’t already know, 
is that President Obama’s opening to Cuba represented exactly zero 
change in Washington’s overall strategy toward the region: The intention 
of expanding commercial and diplomatic relations with Cuba was mainly to 
pursue a more effective strategy of undermining the Cuban 
government--and all of the left governments in the region. This includes 
Brazil, where the U.S. State Department funded efforts to weaken the 
Workers’ Party (PT) government 
<http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/brasil/fc2207200823.htm> in 2005, 
according to U.S. government documents.

Representatives of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and nearly every 
country in the Americas spoke out against the sanctions at the 
Organization of American States (OAS) last Thursday in Washington. The 
Union of South American Nations demanded 
<http://www.unasursg.org/node/169> their repeal. So did the Community of 
Latin American and Caribbean States, which includes all countries in the 
hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada. And on March 26 the opposition 
governor of the state of Lara sent a letter 
<http://www.panorama.com.ve/politicayeconomia/Gobernador-Henri-Falcon-envio-una-carta-al-presidente-Obama-20150326-0070.html> to 
President Obama, asking him to “take a moment of your time to listen to 
the voice of the people of Venezuela and the rest of Latin America that 
have spoken out in favor of the rescinding of this executive order that 
you signed.”

  “If there is a country that is a threat in the Americas,” said 
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño 
“it’s the United States, because it has permanently invaded countries,” 
“created coups d’état” and “promoted dictatorships.” The Cuban 
government also responded forcefully, dashing Obama’s hopes of any deal 
before the Summit.  Negotiations in Havana that were expected to last 
until mid-week ended abruptly 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/18/world/americas/us-cuba-talks-on-restoring-diplomatic-ties-end-abruptly.html?_r=0> on 
Monday, March 16. So Obama will go to the Summit empty-handed and with 
some egg on his face because of this ill-considered move.

These sanctions against Venezuela violate the charter of the 
Organization of American States, including Article 20, and Article 19, 
which states:

No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or 
indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs 
of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed 
force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat 
against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, 
and cultural elements.

Let’s hope that all of the governments represented at the Summit hammer 
it home that this kind of “rogue state” behavior will not be tolerated.

/Mark Weisbrot <http://www.cepr.net/index.php/> is co-director of the 
Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and 
president of Just Foreign Policy <http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/>. He 
is also the author of the forthcoming book /Failed: What the "Experts" 
Got Wrong About the Global Economy/(Oxford University Press, 2015)./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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