ACTION ALERT: Hands (and Sanctions) Off Venezuela

August 3rd, 2023 - by RootsAction, World Beyond War, CODEPINK

ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to
Cease Hostility Toward Venezuela
RootsAction, World Beyond War, CODEPINK

(August 1, 2023) — It’s bad enough that the US government has supported coup-attempts in Venezuela and imposed hurtful economic sanctions on the Venezuelan people. It is now seeking to add to those sanctions. This December marks 200 years since the speech that created the Monroe Doctrine, when US President James Monroe declared that only the United States — not European powers — would dominate other nations in the Western hemisphere.

Enough is enough. At long last, it is time for friendship and cooperation rather than imperialism from the United States in the Americas.

Background Information
The US supported a coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, and on various more recent occasions. In 2018, US officials plotted coup efforts with Venezuelan rebels. Since 2019 the US government and obedient media outlets have pretended that the US-educated and US-directed Juan Guaidó is president of Venezuela, despite his never having been elected and never having held power.

In 2019, Guaidó attempted to seize power, and the US Secretary of State threatened to use military force “if that’s what’s required.” As of 2023, Guaidó lives protected from Venezuelan law in the United States.

The Monroe Doctrine is not dead. A March 4, 2019, article in The Washington Post reported on the US National Security Advisor explaining that the US can overthrow the government of Venezuela for being (according to him) dictatorial, even while the US supports dictatorial governments around the world, because Venezuela falls under the Monroe Doctrine.

A November 29, 2022, Fox Business article cited the Monroe Doctrine as justification for opposing a government of Venezuela that the US government has long sought to overthrow.

The US government refers to its ongoing efforts to overthrow the government of Venezuela as “resolving the Venezuelan crisis” and supporting “democracy” and “human rights,” while opposing “dictatorship.” But this verbiage doesn’t make the actions moral or legal.

Sanctions Are Immoral
US economic sanctions technically exempt humanitarian items — but banks, insurance companies, and other corporations are afraid that if they make loans, provide insurance for shipments or send goods to the sanctioned nation, the US government will accuse them of violating the sanctions, levy hefty fines and place them on a banned business list.

As a result of broad US economic sanctions, the people in countries such as Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe struggle without adequate food, electricity, medicine, medical supplies, masks and respirators. Those who suffer most under sanctions include pregnant women, children, and the chronically ill, as has been reflected in a report on Venezuela by the Special Rapporteur for Unilateral Coercive Measures of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Sanctions Are Illegal
Sanctions authorized by the United Nations and not punishing a whole population may be legal. Sanctions imposed by a single government or group of governments, or engaging in collective punishment, or coercing other governments to participate in a form of blockade are not legal.

Such sanctions violate national sovereignty and bans on collective punishment in the Geneva Conventions as well as the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in some cases the Genocide Convention.

Sanctions Are Ineffective on Their Own Terms
Professor David Cortright writes:
“Policy makers seem to have forgotten the reasons for shifting to targeted sanctions. The purpose is not only to avoid unintended humanitarian consequences but to minimize the risk of a rally-round-the-flag effect.

“When sanctions harm the innocent they lose legitimacy and political support. Governments under blanket sanctions can blame their country’s economic and social miseries on external enemies, diverting attention from their own mismanagement. They can isolate domestic opponents by accusing them of helping foreign enemies. . . .

“The sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council are more selective and targeted. They freeze the assets and ban the travel of approximately 100 Iranian officials and entities responsible for the country’s nuclear program. They do not hurt ordinary people. . . . Sanctions that target potential bomb makers are smart. Those that harm innocent civilians are counterproductive and should be abandoned.”

ACTION: Tell Congress: No More Sanctions. No More Coups. No More Imperial Monroe Doctrine Imperialism.

Bills Now Being Considered in Congress

•  S.995 – Venezuelan Democracy Act. This bill would sanction Venezuela until the government is overthrown.

•   H.R.4086 / S.1931 – AFFECT Human Rights in Venezuela Act. This bill is designed to seek negative information on the Venezuelan government. That information might be true or not, but it is notably not sought on the much-worse governments of loyal US weapons customers, and it is not used to promote self-governance — rather, foreign governance.

•   Another bill is coming soon. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be introducing the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Expansion Actafter the August recess. The VERDAD Act is aimed at imposing “accountability for the Maduro regime’s gross violations of human rights and criminal activities.”