[News] Washington Escalates Venezuela Sanctions into Full-Fledged Embargo

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 7 11:01:45 EDT 2019


  Washington Escalates Venezuela Sanctions into Full-Fledged Embargo

By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz - August 6, 2019

Caracas, August 6, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/>) – The Trump administration has imposed a 
sweeping economic embargo against Venezuela in its efforts to oust the 
Maduro government.

An executive order 
signed by Trump on Monday declares all Venezuelan state assets in the US 
“blocked,” prohibiting them from being “transferred, paid, exported, 
withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in” unless specific exemptions are issued 
by the Treasury Department. All transactions with Venezuelan state 
entities are likewise forbidden.

Crucially, the executive order likewise authorizes the Treasury 
Department to issue secondary sanctions against non-US third parties 
deemed to have “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, 
material, or technological support for, or goods or services” to the 
Venezuelan government.

While previous executive orders had already laid the legal basis for 
secondary sanctions against foreign actors dealing with Venezuela’s 
state oil, mining, and banking sectors, the present White House decree 
expands the blacklist to encompass all business with the Venezuelan state.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with 
the Maduro regime: Proceed with extreme caution,” stated US National 
Security Advisor John Bolton, adding that those who flout sanctions 
“risk [their] business interests with the United States.”

Bolton made the remarks during a gathering of fifty-six countries that 
recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “interim 
president” in Lima, Peru on Tuesday. President Nicolas Maduro continues 
to be recognized by Russia, China, the United Nations, and the rest of 
the international community.

At the conference, Bolton threatened Moscow and Beijing not to 
“double-down” in support of the Maduro administration, which he 
described as “now join[ing] that exclusive club of rogue states.”

The senior Trump official likened the embargo to that imposed on the 
elected Sandinista government as well as the asset freezes targeting the 
Noriega regime in the 1980s, while the Wall Street Journal 
compared the stringent measures to the draconian US sanctions regimes 
against Cuba, Iran, Syria or North Korea.

The executive order includes an exemption permitting transactions 
involving “articles such as food, clothing, and medicine intended to be 
used to relieve human suffering.”

However, analysts such as Torino Capital Chief Economist Francisco 
Rodriguez <https://twitter.com/frrodriguezc/status/1158573085546680320> 
have warned that humanitarian exemptions have “tended to be ineffective 
when applied to other countries facing similar regimes.”

Rodriguez had already projected Venezuela’s economy to contract by 37 
percent in 2019 largely as a result of previous sanctions, which 
economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs have described as a form of 
“collective punishment <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14446>” in a 
recent study.

Despite the latest measures containing no provisions directly targeting 
Venezuela’s private sector as a whole, Rodriguez has observed that “most 
firms in the country have a significant degree of interaction with the 
country’s government,” meaning that the executive order could in 
practice amount to a full-scale trade embargo.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez hit back at the embargo, 
calling it a “dangerous step towards a total asphyxiation” of the 
country’s economy. Rodriguez went on to say that Venezuela would appeal 
to international bodies, while also calling for national unity. A march 
rejecting Washington’s escalation is due to take place on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called on UN Secretary General Antonio 
Guterres and UN Human Rights Chief to condemn what he termed a “human 
rights” violation against the Venezuelan people. He added that Venezuela 
is working on an “alternative architecture” to counter US sanctions, but 
which makes transactions more costly.

For his part, the head of the Russian upper house’s international 
affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, said Tuesday the US policy 
amounts to “international banditry.” He told the state RIA Novosti news 
agency that the move constitutes “open meddling into Venezuela’s 
internal affairs.”

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido wrote on 
Twitter that the sanctions “safeguarded” CITGO and its assets, as well 
as the Venezuelan private sector which “does not do business with a 
dictatorship.” The opposition leader concluded that Washington’s latest 
actions “look to protect Venezuelans.”

Guaido declared <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14244> himself 
“interim president” on January 23 and was promptly backed by the US and 
regional allies. In the six months since, the Venezuelan opposition has 
repeatedly sought to oust the Maduro government, including via an 
attempt to force “humanitarian aid 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14347>” across a closed 
Venezuela-Colombia border on February 23 as well as a failed military 
putsch <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14453> on April 30.

Monday’s embargo follows months of escalating sanctions from the 
Treasury Department against key sectors of the Venezuelan economy, 
including mining <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14396>, banking 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14434>, and especially oil. 
Washington targeted Caracas’ main source of foreign currency with an 
embargo <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14268> in late January, while 
also imposing restrictions <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14527> on 
Venezuela’s ability to import diluents and fuel. More recently, the 
Treasury Department sanctioned the government’s CLAP 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14602> subsidized food program.

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