By Mark Wachtler
March 26, 2015. Washington. (ONN) Two weeks ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order putting in place sanctions against leaders of Venezuela. The US President accused the impoverished South American country of being a threat to the national security of the United States. Immediately, pro-Venezuelan supporters in America, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, issued statements condemning the sanctions and accusing the Obama administration of trying to instigate another US-backed coup.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemns US sanctions. Image courtesy of LiberationNews.org.
Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL)
The PSL statement on March 10th began, ‘In an ominous escalation against Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on March 9 outlandishly declaring the Venezuelan government “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”’ The announcement went on to accuse US officials of trying to overthrow the socialist government of Venezuela, ‘for sixteen years.’
The US sanctions against Venezuela include the seizure of property and assets of seven Venezuelans including civilians and government officials. According to the Executive Order, the actions are to punish the South American country for, ‘human rights violations and abuses.’ But as pointed out by the PSL statement, the seven individuals targeted include the Venezuelan leaders who thwarted a coup attempt on February 12th, including the government prosecutor who led the prosecution of the coup leaders.
Suggesting that this Executive Order is only the first of more actions to come, the PSL announcement quotes the American President’s EO as leaving open the door to additional sanctions against additional individuals. ‘Obama’s Executive Order also broadly defines any current or former leaders and supporters of the Bolivarian government as subject to possible sanctions,’ the statement from PSL explains, ‘It threatens US individuals and entities that have “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of” pro-government Venezuelans currently targeted or to be named in the future.’
Not the first time
Only hours after President Obama’s sanctions against Venezuela were announced two weeks ago, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to prime time TV to condemn the US President’s Executive Order calling it, “a monster created with the backing of the State Department and the CIA.” He went on to accuse the US of, “committing the gravest aggression against Venezuela in all its history.”
While there is no universally accepted evidence proving the US was behind the February coup against Maduro, it is widely accepted that the CIA was behind the 2002 Venezuelan coup that toppled Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez for two days before finally being put down. As detailed by Wikipedia, in 48 hours, the Western-backed coup leaders managed to dissolve the country’s National Assembly, the Supreme Court and Venezuela’s Constitution. It was at that point that the country’s socialist majority reaffirmed their support for Chavez and the military followed suit, refusing to recognize the new US-backed government.
International support for Maduro
American socialists like PSL are proclaiming their support for Venezuela’s government, in defiance of the just-signed Obama Executive Order. And a handful of national leaders around the world also voiced their support for the Maduro government. ‘The leaders of Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and other progressive Latin American governments vehemently condemned this latest aggressive move by the US as blatant intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs,’ the PSL statement said.
The announcement went on to detail, ‘Even the outgoing secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza - no friend of the Bolivarian Revolution - called Obama’s order “very harsh.”’ In response, Venezuela has reciprocated and enacted sanctions of its own against the US. The 100-person US Embassy was reduced to 17 staffers to match the number of Venezuelan personnel allowed in its own Embassy in America.
Visas will now be required for any Americans wanting to enter Venezuela. And the Maduro government also reiterated its call for the arrest and prosecution of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lastly, and most ominously in the face of Venezuela’s near-bankrupt economy, Maduro was granted additional authoritarian powers to defend his government from the ongoing Western-backed coup attempt.
The West insists Venezuela’s economy is collapsing because of the unfunded social programs due to low oil prices undercutting the country’s petro-profits. Maduro and his supporters insist that it is the West, especially the United States, sabotaging Venezuela’s economy as part of the overall coup that is causing the current economic strife. Similarly, the Maduro government insists he needs extraordinary power to defend against the coup. While critics in the West insist the Venezuelan President needs the authoritarian powers to hold onto his government in the face of mounting frustration among the populace. Some would suggest that both sides are correct.
Visit the PSL website to read the full statement.
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