Freedom Rider: The United States destroys Venezuela’s economy

Corporate media in this country deliver a steady onslaught of anti-Venezuelan propaganda. The Washington Post fumes about Venezuelan “pirates,” while the New York Times reports that Ecuador is overwhelmed by desperate Venezuelan migrants. Unfortunately the propaganda has succeeded to a large degree. “Socialism doesn’t work, just look at Venezuela,” is an all too common trope. It is rare that anyone with a public platform reveals a simple truth. Venezuela’s problems were created by the United States government, first during the Obama administration and now continuing under Trump’s.

It is sanctions against the Venezuelan government and its people that have created hyperinflation, hunger, and a devastated health care system that was once the envy of that region. Sanctions are war by other means, invisible to most eyes. There are no troops, bullets, bombs, drones or military weaponry. But sanctions are as deadly as any military invasion, and Trump may do that yet.

In 2015, Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela to be “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” That decree is necessary in order to impose economic sanctions. But sanctions do not only mean that American corporations and individuals cannot do business with the targeted country. Any country that conducts economic transactions with Venezuela will also be subject to sanctions. Even in its state of decline, the United States is the 800-pound financial gorilla that can’t be ignored.

When the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and the rest report on Venezuela’s depredations they never reveal that it is the United States which brought about it crisis condition. Because of sanctions, Venezuela has oil that it can’t sell. Even individuals are prohibited from doing something as simple as sending money there.

A federal judge recently ruled that creditors can seize CITGO, Venezuela’s U.S.-based petroleum subsidiary. The creditors are Canadian mining company Crystallex and ConocoPhillips. They may get the chance to scavenge because sanctions make Venezuela unable to renegotiate any of its debts. This is the epitome of criminality brought about by international capital. Venezuela was deliberately impoverished, and then robbed of what little it has left.

Venezuela is isolated financially and is now surrounded by right-wing governments in Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. The United States could overthrow Maduro without sending even one soldier. The reliable crime of funding proxies could work as well on Venezuela as it did on Libya.

What have Venezuelans done to bring on this draconian punishment? They have dared to vote for socialist governments, first under the late president Hugo Chavez and again when he was succeeded by Nicolas Maduro. The corporate media derisively refer to Maduro as a “hand-picked successor.” That means he was vice president and, just as in this country, succeeds a president who dies in office. The attempt to discredit his legitimacy is yet another example of how the state and media work closely together in a country that claims to have a free press.

Now the social media corporations have colluded with government to make certain that anyone who is interested in the Venezuelan perspective will be isolated as well. Facebook temporarily removed the Venezuela Analysis page claiming violations of terms of service. It was not the first time that Facebook has removed Venezuela Analysis and it may not be the last.

Black Agenda Report predicted that Russiagate would be the pretext for censoring the left. Social media platforms are as much a part of corporate media as the networks or major newspapers. The day may come when Venezuela’s presence is erased there altogether.

Barack Obama issued executive orders imposing sanctions in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 the order was renewed early in January in order to provide “a smooth transition ” to Donald Trump.

“This will ensure that the new administration will not need to immediately undertake renewals necessary to safeguard our national security as it works to put its national security team in place and secure Senate confirmation of relevant appointees.” The security state is nothing if not consistent.

But is the antiwar movement consistent? Are people who claim to be on the left consistent? If Trump were to make good on threats to take military action, how many people would be in the streets protesting against U.S. aggression? Venezuelans impoverished by American dictates have no lobby to speak for them. No member of Congress takes to the floor and expresses outrage on their behalf. Even alleged socialist Bernie Sanders dismissed Chavez as “a dead communist dictator.” Unfortunately he isn’t alone in his assessment.

Anyone who claims to be antiwar must also oppose the ongoing horrors visited upon the Venezuelan people. They are suffering and dying because of decisions made by the bipartisan war party. If the left were consistent in its analysis and actions, no president would dare to attack Venezuela or any other country in this manner. Let the whole world sanction the United States for its continuing aggressions that devastate so many people.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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