Venezuela Urges UN to Intervene against US Sanctions
CARACAS (July 8, 2019) —The Venezuelan government has urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to intervene against the US trade and financial sanctions which are undermining the South American nation’s economy.
Addressing a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Venezuelan Vice Foreign Minister William Castillo said on Friday that the sanctions met the body’s definition of “unilateral coercive measures” and should be lifted, reports Xinhua news agency.
“In keeping with the UN’s resolutions on unilateral coercive measures, (we) demand the immediate end to the blockade,” urged Castillo.
The sanctions have crippled Venezuela’s ability to refinance its foreign debt and maintain trade ties with other countries, he said.
Venezuela appreciates “the recognition by the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the US economic sanctions aggravate the economic crisis and violate human rights”, the official said.
However, Venezuela disagrees with several conclusions in a report released on Thursday by Bachelet’s office following her recent visit there, and “demands a correction”, said Castillo.
“In Venezuela there is no humanitarian crisis. We are suffering economic difficulties linked to the fall in oil prices and the economic blockade,” Castillo said.
Despite these efforts to destabilize the country, the government is implementing social policies to improve people’s lives, including providing housing and food, Castillo said.
“More than 2.6 million homes have been built in eight years, benefiting more than 12 million citizens,” he said, adding that 6 million households regularly receive a basic basket of goods.
Castillo’s demand came as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro presided over a military parade marking Venezuela’s Independence Day, at which he affirmed that “we are on the right side of history”.
The UN is showing itself to be a toothless mouse, or worse, a subservient enabler of US empire and aggression. They should automatically eject any nation that violates the non aggression mandate that it is supposed to uphold. At worst it would force a dissolution of a more or less useless agency, as attested to by all the non new world order countries now under threat and sanction.
What if a consortium of countries facing “sanctions” and their allies, formed a new international organization, leaving the UN an empty shell?
It would be worth a try. Although, it would be polarizing, and with the new world order bloc being so large, could be tough undertaking.
Trump Administration Diverts Central America Aid to US-backed Opposition in Venezuela
WASHINGTON (July 16, 2019) — The Trump administration plans to divert more than $40 million in humanitarian aid from Central America to the US-backed opposition in Venezuela, according to an internal memo and interviews.
The memo, dated July 11 and obtained by The Times, is a notification to Congress from the US Agency for International Development that the money is going to Venezuela in response to an “exigent” crisis involving US “national interest.”
The US has been an ardent supporter of forces attempting to oust the leftist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and now recognizes his challenger, opposition leader Juan Guaido, as the legitimate ruler of the besieged nation.
All of the money being diverted will go to Guaido and his faction, the memo said, to pay for their salaries, airfare, “good governance” training, propaganda, technical assistance for holding elections and other “democracy-building” projects.
The $41.9 million had been destined for Guatemala and Honduras, two of three countries in Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle, an impoverished and violence-ridden region that accounts for the majority of migrants now fleeing to the United States.
President Trump late last year said he was cutting all aid to Central America until the countries stopped the flow of migrants across Mexico and toward the US southern border. Critics said ending aid would be counterproductive because the conditions that thousands are already fleeing would only worsen.
Trump’s threat applied to money allotted for the region for 2018, a total of about $370 million. The $41.9 million is the first tranche of those funds to be “repurposed,” said a congressional aide familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity in discussing internal workings.
“What they are doing is essentially taking the money that would help poor Central American children and giving it to pay the salaries of Guaido and his officials and employees,” the person said.
Cutting aid to Central America is one of numerous punitive steps Trump has taken as part of his stated goal of curbing legal and illegal immigration to the United States, especially by people from Latin American and Muslim-majority countries.
The administration has all but eliminated the possibility of political asylum for most migrants reaching the US southern border, drastically reduced quotas for blocs of immigrants granted visas, and vowed to deport thousands of people from the US in door-to-door raids by federal agents.
The new memo, meanwhile, is the first indication of where the administration would use the diverted money instead.
Ousting Maduro, whose corruption-riddled government has plunged once-prosperous Venezuela into economic, social and political chaos, has become a cause celebre for Trump, especially as he eyes reelection and support in South Florida, where opposition to Maduro runs deep.
Trump and his national security advisor, John Bolton, have declared Maduro an illegitimate leader and refer to his government as the “former Maduro regime,” while praising Guaido, whose inner circle consists mostly of exiles operating from Miami or Washington.
The US government is already spending a large amount of money for the Venezuelan cause, sending millions of dollars to neighboring countries absorbing Venezuelan refugees, shipping humanitarian supplies, food and medicines to the region and helping Guaido’s followers to take over Venezuelan diplomatic compounds in the United States.
Experts in Latin American issues say, however, that the diversion of these funds, albeit to support Guaido’s efforts, is misguided.
“It’s a terrible idea not to spend that money in Central America,” said Geoff Thale, programs vice president at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights research group. “Especially at a moment when the intention seems to be to bottle up people in that region, not spending the funding to improve conditions in the region” makes no sense, he said.
The administration has made great strides in mustering international support for Guaido, joining with about 50 other governments in declaring Maduro’s rule illegitimate.
Still, although the US historically has lent support to opposition groups against disfavored governments, the payment of dissident officials’ salaries is unusual.
“The danger is that the Venezuelan opposition becomes perceived as Made in the USA,” said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.
The USAID memo said the “deviation” of the money was “necessary due to unforeseen events and exceptional circumstances.”
It responds “to a significant, exigent event in the US national interest, specifically the rapidly evolving crisis in Venezuela and the need to support” Guaido and the National Assembly, an elected legislative body that Maduro has attempted to sideline and replace with a loyal parliament.
Some of the organizations that will be used to oversee the spending are the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, the memo said.
USAID did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In response to the USAID memo, the House can choose to put a “hold” on sending the money to the Venezuelan parties. But Trump could also choose to ignore it and spend the money anyway, or both sides could stand their ground until the end of the fiscal year in September, when the money would no longer be available.
Tracy Wilkinson covers foreign affairs from the Los Angeles Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau.
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