[News] UN Expert Releases Full Report on Impact of US-led Sanctions Against Venezuela

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Sat Sep 18 14:03:00 EDT 2021

venezuelanalysis.com <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15323> UN Expert
Releases Full Report on Impact of US-led Sanctions Against Venezuela
By Andreína Chávez Alava - September 18, 2021

Guayaquil, Ecuador, September 18, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – United
Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan presented a 19-page report
detailing the negative consequences of US-led sanctions on the Venezuelan

The document compiles Douhan’s complete assessment of her 12-day visit to
the Caribbean country in February <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15123>.
Presenting the findings at the 48th UN Human Rights Council session on
September 15, the independent expert reiterated
<https://twitter.com/CancilleriaVE/status/1438166185019731973> that the
wide-reaching sanctions program against Venezuela has had a “devastating”
effect on the entire population’s living conditions.

Douhan went on to explain that Venezuela’s pre-existing economic and social
crisis was exacerbated by the imposition of “sectoral sanctions on the oil,
gold and mining industries” as well as “the economic blockade
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/images/15295> and the freezing of the Central
Bank assets.”

Consequently, the country’s revenues, essentially from oil exports
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/images/15301>, were significantly reduced,
affecting “public electricity, gas, water, transport, telephone and
communication systems, as well as schools, hospitals and other public

The Belarusian lawyer added that the threat of extraterritorial and
secondary sanctions has led to “over-compliance by banks and third-country
companies,” amplifying the negative impact of primary sanctions.
Furthermore, she argued that the “humanitarian exemptions appear to be
ineffective and insufficient” to alleviate the crisis.

The special rapporteur concluded that unilateral sanctions against
Venezuela are politically motivated, undermine the most fundamental human
rights and violate international law
<https://twitter.com/UN_HRC/status/1438167137860915202>. She urged the US
and its allies to lift all coercive measures.

Douhan additionally acknowledged the Nicolás Maduro government's “greater
engagement” with UN agencies and NGOs to provide humanitarian aid to the

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Félix Plasencia likewise participated
in the 48th UN Human Rights Council session and welcomed Douhan’s report.
“The Special Rapporteur made it clear that these measures, in the form
of collective
punishment <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14645>, are international
crimes that threaten the Venezuelan people.”

On Wednesday, over 800 human rights organizations and social movements
released a statement
<https://twitter.com/SuresDDHH/status/1437451779076206594> supporting
recent calls for sanctions relief, including by the UN Human Rights
Chief Michelle
Bachelet <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15320>.

Venezuela has been under crushing US sanctions since 2017 when Washington
targeted <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13330> state oil company PDVSA.
Between 2019-2020, the US Treasury Department imposed an oil embargo
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14268>, a blanket ban
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14615> on all dealings with Caracas, and
shut down fuel and diluent imports and swap deals
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15040>. Additionally, Washington
levied secondary
sanctions <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14791> and a host of other
measures, including freezing or seizing
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/citgo> a number of Venezuelan assets
Right to food and wages

In her report, the UN independent expert emphasized that “the drop of oil
revenues, exacerbated by the sanctions, provoked a food and nutrition
crisis,” with food <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14894> availability
decreasing by an estimated 73 percent as imports fell between 2015 and 2019.

As a result, more than 2.5 million Venezuelans are severely food insecure,
while the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recorded a “213.8 percent
increase in undernourishment or chronic hunger.”

Douhan’s report also warned of “the precarious purchasing power of
workers,” with the average salary
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15236> estimated at US $2-10 per
month covering around 2 percent of the food basket.

However, the special rapporteur acknowledged the government’s efforts to
alleviate the crisis with a range of social benefits
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15183>, including the distribution
of subsidized food through the CLAP
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15147> program. The latter reportedly
assists 7.5 million households but has reduced its staples after imports
were targeted by the US Treasury Department.
“Disastrous” health situation

The Belarusian lawyer stated that sanctions have blocked transactions aimed
at acquiring medicine. “This prevented the purchase of blood reagents in
2020 for 2.5 million patients and 123,000 others in need of blood
transfusions, according to the Ombudsman’s Office.”

Moreover, the blocked purchases affected 5,859 people suffering from
hemophilia and Guillain-Barré syndrome and impeded 180,000 surgery
operations for lack of antibiotics, anesthetics and tuberculosis treatment.

The insufficiency of basic medicines and their rising prices have likewise
placed some 300,000 people at risk. At the same time, 2.6 million children
have been deprived of vaccines for meningitis, rotavirus, malaria, measles,
yellow fever and influenza.

Other concerns are the increase of teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDS cases.
Currently, 80,000 out of an estimated 120,000 HIV/AIDS patients had to
suspend their treatment for lack of drugs, the report expressed.

Additionally, hospitals reported that only 20 percent of the equipment is
functioning due to the inability to acquire spare parts. The UN expert
documented two specific cases: The Children’s Heart Hospital did fewer than
120 surgeries in 2020 (the standard was around 1800), and the J.M. de Los
Ríos Paediatric Hospital in Caracas had to suspend kidney transplants for
137 children.

Douhan’s findings likewise highlighted that Washington’s seizure of PDVSA's
US-based oil subsidiary CITGO halted the company's humanitarian program. As
a result, 14 children have died <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15269>
after not receiving liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants in hospitals
abroad. Another 53 are awaiting the resumption of the state-funded Simón
Bolívar foundation.
Deteriorated public services

During her visit to Venezuela, Douhan attested that all public services are
working at half of their capacity since the US-led imposition of coercive

According to Venezuelan government officials cited in the report, only 50
percent of the water system’s distribution units were running and “water
had to be distributed in rotation to ensure delivery to all.” The use of
chemical agents to treat and purify water was reduced by 30 percent,
causing health problems.

The text went on to explain that Venezuela is producing “only 40 percent of
the electricity it needs, and electric lines work at less than 20 percent
of their capacity.” In the country’s southwest region, “75-80 percent of
electricity could not be produced because thermo-power machines were
damaged and needed to be repaired.” The situation was aggravated by alleged
cyber-attacks <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15281> against the
electrical grid in 2019.
Gasoline and diesel scarcity

The special rapporteur concluded that the Caribbean nation was on the brink
of a “catastrophic situation” due to acute fuel shortages

Douhan warned that diesel scarcity
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15225> has endangered “agriculture
production, transportation of food, electricity generation, water pump
operation, public transport, transit and ambulances.”

At the same time, gasoline shortages
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/video/15061> have resulted in higher
transportation prices, blocked access to hospitals and schools, and
aggravated food and medical supplies distribution, especially to the
country’s remote areas.
Access to education

The government’s limited financial resources to buy and repair necessary
infrastructure has led to shrinking Internet coverage, with reportedly only
10 percent of the territory accessing the service. In the pre-sanctions
era, the range stood at 50-90 percent.

The Belarusian lawyer’s report likewise pointed that the higher costs of
Internet access and ongoing power shortages have affected online teaching
since the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to university
researchers, an estimated 80 percent of students in public schools cannot
overcome these obstacles.

Another consequence of the sanctions was the suspension of the
government’s Canaima
program <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/7647> in 2020, which produced
and distributed 6,5 million tablet computers to 14 million students.
Migration and brain drain

The tightening of sanctions has led to unprecedented migration numbers. The
UN expert report, citing a host of sources (including the Venezuelan
government), placed the figure between 1.2 to 5.6 million by May 2021.

The accelerated migration <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15277>
caused a brain drain, with most state companies and public services losing
30-50 percent of their personnel, including “doctors, nurses, teachers,
university professors, engineers, police officers, judges, technicians and
many others.” This resulted “in internal disorganization, increased
workloads <https://venezuelanalysis.com/tales-resistance/15242> for
remaining staff, reduced services and a decline in their quality.”

Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan’s visit to Venezuela is the first out of
ten scheduled for the next two years as part of an agreement between the
Nicolás Maduro government and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
signed in 2019.

The full text of Douhan's report can be found here

*Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.*
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