Woensdag bespreekt de Tweede Kamercommissie voor Buitenlandse Zaken met de ministers Bert Koenders en Ronald Plasterk de actuele situatie in Venezuela en de impact daarvan op Curaçao, Aruba en Bonaire. Er zal dan zeker ook gesproken worden over eventuele economische sancties in EU-verband. In onderstaande (Engelstalige) opiniebijdrage gaat Venezuela’s zaakgelastigde in Den Haag Alvaro Sánchez Cordero in op de door de VS afgekondigde maatregelen.
By Alvaro Sánchez Cordero
Trump’s financial sanctions against Venezuela are the continuation of a four-year-old economic war and financial blockade.
Some people would have probably thought that the newly enacted US financial sanctions against Venezuela are just a new experiment by the US Government to try to help Venezuelans free themselves from a ruthless socialist dictator. However, this premise is all wrong and here is why.
Firstly, the US Government has been conducting (or more precisely intensifying) an economic war and financial blockade against Venezuela for at least the past four years, when president Hugo Chávez passed away and Nicolás Maduro was elected as the new Venezuelan president. Thus, Donald Trump’s announcement of financial sanctions against Venezuela just make explicit and overt a four-year old agenda aimed at bringing our country to its knees as a precondition for regime change.
Huge political pressure has been placed upon banks and financial institutions engaged in commercial activities with the Venezuelan government. In turn, major banks disregarding their own interests from a commercial and financial perspective, and also overlooking the fact that Venezuela has never defaulted, using powerful instruments, such as the ‘Country Risk Factor’, have given Venezuela the worst possible ratings in order to keep foreign investors away and to charge higher interest rates every time Venezuela tries to obtain lines of credit abroad.
Indeed, important banking institutions have decided not to work with the Venezuelan government, so as to make more difficult and expensive for us simple transactions like for example payments and deposits.
In addition, there are several other tricks that the US government is pulling behind the scenes against Venezuela, such as: promoting an internet black market exchange rate that simply distorts and destabilizes our economy by, among other things, inducing inflation and making paper notes disappear.
Obviously there has been a major economic impact in Venezuela as a result of this US led economic war and financial blockade. In fact, one has to consider that the past four years of sabotage against our economy have coincided with the drop in oil prices. Nonetheless, in spite of all this, the US government was not able to achieve their ultimate goal: to topple president Maduro.
Neither was the US government able to topple Maduro through violence on the streets (more than 100 people died as a result of right-wing opposition looting and street barricades from April to July 2017) or through illegitimate international coercion by the Organization of American States. Faced with such a stream of failures and in desperation, even Trump himself said on the 11th of August that he wouldn’t discard the military option against Venezuela. In other words, since everything else failed, he had to pull the gun, reminiscent of the infamous gunboat diplomacy approach conducted by the US against Latin American countries during most of the 20th century.
Therefore, as a last resort, and with the help of the Miami lobby and Venezuelan opposition leaders like Julio Borges who begged the US for more sanctions, Trump has actually expanded and made official the same financial warfare that the US had been deploying against Venezuela for the last four years. By doing this, Trump intends to create more restrictions, with an actual ‘legal’ framework (in reality illegal according to international law and the UN Charter), against Venezuelan financial dealings, such as new debt, equity, bonds and dividend payments.
No doubt that Trump’s financial sanctions will create more problems to our economy. However, as with other US sanctions against countries like Cuba, Iran and Russia, they will not achieve their ultimate objective, which is ‘regime change’. On the contrary, just like in those three countries, the sanctions will strengthen patriotism, weaken pro US, right-wing opposition options and consolidate chavismo as the only political force able and willing to protect its citizens and defend the nation’s sovereignty. In addition, over 70 percent of the Venezuelan budget is devoted to social investment, which has made Venezuela the third country in the region with the lowest levels of inequality, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac).
As to the false positive of Maduro being a dictator, there have been over 20 elections in the past 18 years, all free and fair, most of the media is in the hands of the opposition, all opposition political parties operate freely and without any restrictions, and the opposition has a substantial number of governors, mayors and councilors throughout the national territory. Furthermore, the right-wing opposition has already and officially registered to participate in the upcoming regional elections next month.
President Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly offered president Trump to have a direct conversation so as to address any issues between the two countries through diplomacy and constructive dialogue. President Maduro has also offered Venezuela’s opposition to enter into a dialogue with the government to jointly address the nation’s problems. Regrettably, both, the US government and Venezuela’s opposition are the political hostages of US extreme right wing forces that are obsessed with regime change and who reject dialogue, democracy and diplomacy. Say no to US sanctions! Respect Venezuela’s sovereignty!
Alvaro Sánchez Cordero is als zaakgelastigde van Venezuela gestationeerd op de Venezolaanse ambassade in Den Haag.