UN Condemns US Sanctions vs. Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran

May 9th, 2019 - by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UNITED NATIONS, GENEVA (May 6, 2019) — An independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council has expressed deep concern at the recent imposition of unilateral coercive measures on Cuba, Venezuela and Iran by the United States, saying the use of economic sanctions for political purposes violates human rights and the norms of international behaviour.  Such action may precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes of unprecedented proportions.

 “Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation has never been an accepted practice of international relations,” said Idriss Jazairy, the UN Special Rapporteur concerned with the negative impact of sanctions. “Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof.”

The implementation of Title III of the Helms Burton Act—allowing US citizens to file lawsuits against Cuban entities and foreign companies over property seized and used following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution—ignored protests by the European Union and Canada and was a direct attack on European and Canadian companies in Cuba, where they are the top foreign investors. “The resort by a major power of its dominant position in the international financial arena against its own allies to cause economic hardship to the economy of sovereign States is contrary to international law, and inevitably undermines the human rights of their citizens,” the Special Rapporteur said.

On 17 April the United States banned the Central Bank of Venezuela from conducting transactions in US dollars after 17 May, and will cut off access to US personal remittances and credit cards by March 2020. “It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy, and preventing Venezuelans from sending home money, can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people’, as claimed by the US Treasury,” the expert said. His statements follow claims in a recent report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research that 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of US sanctions.

Jazairy also said he was concerned the US would not renew waivers for international buyers of Iranian oil, despite protests from NATO ally Turkey , among others. Washington has demanded that all remaining States which benefited from waivers stop purchases on May 1, or face sanctions. “The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law,” the expert said.  “I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them.” 

 “The international community must come together to challenge what amounts to blockades ignoring a country’s sovereignty, the human rights of its people, and the rights of third countries trading with sanctioned States, all while constituting a threat to world peace and security. I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela , Cuba , Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new ‘normal’.”

UN expert: Mr. Idriss Jazairy( Algeria ) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A. ( Oxford ) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration ( France ). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and many articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs.

TheSpecial Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Media Pushes Myth of a Humanitarian Coup

Alan MacLeod  / FAIR.org

Venezuela: It’s Only A Coup If The US Government Says So

Media side with Trump cronies rather than common sense in labeling coup a ‘protest’

 (May 8, 2019) — The CNN column (4/30/19) helpfully clarifies: “Rooting for the Venezuelan people means hoping that Maduro will step down peacefully.”

It’s Groundhog Day again in Venezuela, as the local conservative opposition has launched another attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power. Surrounded by a few hardcore supporters, Washington-backed self-appointed president Juan Guaidó on April 30 called on the military to rise up and overthrow the democratically elected Maduro. Guaidó, a man who has never even stood for president, attempted the same thing in January, and the opposition has attempted to remove Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, on many occasions, including in 2017, 2014, 2013, 2002 and 2001.

Despite bearing the clear hallmarks of a coup—defined as “the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group”—US media have overwhelmingly supported it, as they have past attempts (FAIR.org1/25/195/16/184/18/02). CNN (4/30/19) told the United States that it must “root for the people” of Venezuela, before explicitly stating, “Rooting for the Venezuelan people means hoping that Maduro will step down”—thus underlining the phenomenon noted by FAIR (1/31/19) that to corporate media, “the people” of Venezuela are whoever agrees with the US government.

CNN (4/30/19) also used images of Guaidó’s paramilitaries (identifiable by their blue armbands) to illustrate a report claiming the forces of “socialist dictator” Maduro were “mowing down citizens in the streets.”

Not a Coup, but a…

And the award for Most Awkward Euphemism goes to…the Washington Post (4/30/19)!

Framing how readers see an issue is an incredibly powerful tool of persuasion. It’s not carpet bombing, it’s surgical strikes. And people are more likely to accept advanced interrogation techniques than they are torture.

In their efforts to refrain from using the negative—but accurate—term “coup” to describe events they support, the media have sometimes had to go to bizarre, roundabout and garbled lengths to dance around it. The Washington Post (4/30/19) used the clunky phrase “opposition-led military-backed challenge.”  The Post (4/30/19) also published an article in support of Guaidó headlined “Is What’s Happening in Venezuela an Attempted Coup? First, Define ‘Coup,” arguing that there were such things as “noble” and “democratic coups.”

Other outlets also refused to use the most logical word to describe events. CBS (4/30/19), Reuters (5/1/19) and CNN (5/1/19) chose the word “uprising,” NPR (4/30/19) and the New York Times (4/30/19) “protest,” and Yahoo! News went with the phrase “high-risk gamble” (5/1/19). Meanwhile, the Miami Herald (4/30/19) insisted that the “military rebellion” in Venezuela “can be called many things. But don’t call it a ‘coup attempt.’”

Even international organizations like the BBC (5/1/19), the Guardian (5/1/19) and Al-Jazeera (5/1/19) only used the word “coup” in quotations, characterizing it as an accusation attributed to government officials media have been demonizing for years (Extra!11–12/05FAIR.org5/28/184/11/19). This despite the fact that Al-Jazeera (4/30/19) reported on the day of the coup that Erik Prince, CEO of the private military contractor Blackwater, tried to persuade Donald Trump to let him send 5,000 mercenaries to Venezuela to “remove” Maduro.

Stenographers for Power

The reasons for the reluctance of the media to use the word “coup” can be found in official announcements from the government. With all the credibility of an armed man in a mask repeatedly shouting “this is not technically a bank robbery,” national security advisor John Bolton told reporters on April 30, “This is clearly not a coup,” but an effort by ”the Venezuelan people” to “regain their freedom,” which the US “fully supports.”

Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that what we are seeing in Venezuela “is the will of the people to peacefully change the course of their country from one of despair to one of freedom and democracy.”

Soon after Bolton’s comments, Bloomberg published a series of articles (4/30/19; 4/30/19; 4/30/19), all by different writers, on why the events did not constitute a coup attempt. This, despite Bloomberg’s reporter Andrew Rosati revealing that coup leader Leopoldo Lopez told him and the rest the international media core that he wants the US to formally govern Venezuela once Maduro falls.

“We lied, we cheated, we stole,” Pompeo declared—but trust him, Maduro only stayed in power because Putin told him to (CNN, 5/1/19)!

This is not the first time the media have lined up behind the government on a Venezuelan coup. As detailed in my bookBad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting, the US media also endorsed the April 2002 coup against Chavez, using euphemisms such as “popular uprising” (Miami Herald, 4/18/02), “unrest” (New York Times5/23/02) or “Chavez’s temporary downfall” (New York Times4/29/02) to frame events more positively.

Only after an official White House spokesperson used the word “coup” on April 15, 2002, was the word frequently used in the media, suggesting a close synergy between government officials and those supposedly employed to hold them to account.Pompeo made waves in April after publicly admitting at an event at Texas A&M University that he was a serial liar, cheat and thief. As CIA director, he declared, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses [on it]!”

Nevertheless, the media credulously repeated his astonishing claims, made in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (5/1/19), that Maduro, who has survived multiple coup attempts and assassinations, had been on the airport tarmac on his way to Cuba, “ready to leave” Venezuela for good, only for Russia to tell him to stay. This dubious, unverified and officially contested assertion made headlines around the world (Daily Beast4/30/19Newsweek4/30/19; Times of London, 5/1/19Deutsche Welle4/30/19), with few questioning its credibility.

After barely 12 hours, the most recent coup attempt appeared to have failed under the weight of its own unpopularity. According to the New York Times (4/30/19), Guaidó failed to attract meaningful support from the military, his co-conspirator Leopoldo Lopez had sought refuge first in the Chilean then in the Spanish embassy, and 25 of his paramilitaries had done the same in the Brazilian one. Guaidó did not win over the Venezuelan majority, who had previously chased his motorcade out of a working class district when he tried to enter. Ordinary Venezuelans continued their lives, or even rushed to the defense of the government. As USA Today (5/1/19) summed up:

Guaidó called it the moment for Venezuelans to reclaim their democracy once and for all. But as the hours dragged on, he stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising.

It appears that the main base of support for the coup was the US government…and the media. The press’s extraordinary complicity, lining up with the State Department’s version of the world in the face of empirical evidence, highlights the worrying closeness between media and government.

When it comes to foreign policy, there is often no difference between deep state and fourth estate.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.