Sanctions imperialism has imposed on Venezuela are illegal. The UN and Organization of American States (OAS) charters, and U.S. laws find this illegal action.
Media reports said:
The unilateral economic sanctions is an explicit violation of international law protected under the UN, OAS charters, human rights stipulations, and even U.S. law. Despite the fact, sanctions have turned as imperialism’s preferred instrument to impose its strategic designs. Since 2017, the Trump administration has imposed 150 sanctions on individuals and entities in Venezuela.
The aim of these sanctions is to oust the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, and to foil the Bolivarian Revolution the people of Venezuela are carrying forward.
“It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy…can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people’, as claimed by the U.S. Treasury,”
said Idriss Jazairy, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions.
Jazairy has condemned the sanctions, and called out the sanctions’ illegality.
“The resort by a major power of its dominant position in the international financial arena … to cause economic hardship to the economy of sovereign States is contrary to international law, and inevitably undermines the human rights of their citizens,” said Jazairy.
According to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, sanctions are to be imposed by the UN Security Council, following a determination that there is a threat to or a breach of international peace and security.
This means no UN member state, on its own wish, can impose economic sanctions upon any member or any sovereign state.
Thus, the unilateral imposition of sanctions by the U.S. is violation of the UN’s Declaration on the Principles of International Law, concerned with friendly relations and cooperation among states.
The resolution, in accordance with its charter, was adopted by the General Assembly on October 1970, and it references
“the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State.”
Thus, the U.S. sanctions can be considered a hostile act.
Even in wartime, these sorts of punishments are illegal under the Geneva Conventions.
The 1977 Additional Protocols to the Conventions prohibit any wartime measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival, be it food, water or medicine.
In Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians, these “collective penalties” are banned.
“Sanctions kill,” Alfred De Zayas, former secretary of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law told The Independent.
Zayas said sanctions affect mostly the poorest sectors of society, demonstrably cause death through food and medical shortages, lead to violations of human rights, and are aimed at coercing foreign entities.
The current and ongoing use of “economic warfare” through the use of “modern-day economic sanctions and blockades” can be comparable to “medieval sieges of towns,” said Zayas said in an HRC 2018 report.
Crimes against humanity
Based on all the violations of human rights and international law, the UN expert gave a clear recommendation to the international community: that the International Criminal Court investigates the economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
Thus, the sanctions violate one of the principal agreements reached by world governments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1948.
This set of basic rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled are the right to life, to work, to be educated, to be food and to housing, among others.
According to the now extinct, Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in its resolution 1997/35 of August 28, 1997 – “Adverse Consequences of Economic Sanctions on the Enjoyment of Human Rights” – sanctions “affect the innocent population, especially the most vulnerable, aggravate imbalances in income distribution, and generate illegal and unethical business practices.”
300,000 people at health risk
A study by the Venezuelan National Survey on Living Conditions found: More than 300,000 people were considered at risk due to a lack of access to medicine or treatments.
On May 23, 2019, Larry Devoe, Executive Secretary of the Venezuelan National Human Rights Council (CNDH), denounced through his official account on Twitter, the death of a seven-year-old infant as a result sanctions making it impossible to receive a bone marrow transplant.
More infants from Venezuela have died in other countries under treatment as funds could not be sent due to imperialism-imposed sanction.
Based solely on humanitarian law, specifically on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), states are prohibited from imposing a blockade, siege or regime of economic sanctions with the purpose of causing starvation among the civilian population.
States must allow free passage of medical and hospital consignments and essential food, clothing, and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers and maternity cases.
According to the OAS charter, chapter IV, articles 19 and 20, states are prohibited from intervening in a foreign country, “not only by armed force but also in any other form of interference … against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”
It said “no state may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another.”
Columbia University economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot have already pointed out in their recent study that these sanctions violate U.S. law. All sanctions under the Trump administration, and before, have been made through executive orders invoking the 1976 National Emergencies Act.
The U.S. arguments that the Bolivarian nation represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the U.S.
But the argument has no legal justification as the U.S. government applied this same misuse of power to fund border wall, which has resulted in individual and congressional lawsuits.
Deutsche Bank confiscates 20 tons of Venezuelan gold
Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, has taken control of 20 tons of gold belonging to Venezuela.
The bank has taken this gold as collateral after Venezuela defaulted on a gold swap agreement valued at US$750 million.
The seizure comes as part of a deal clinched between Venezuela and the lender in 2016.
Under the terms of the agreement, Venezuela received a cash loan from Deutsche Bank and put up 20 tons of gold as collateral.
The initial deal was set to expire in 2021, but was settled earlier because of missed interest payments.
Sanctions-hit Venezuela has been struggling in recent years with the worst economic crisis in the country’s history. The economic decline, accompanied by a sharp recession, hyperinflation, and an increasing deficit of basic goods, has intensified by political turmoil, exacerbated by constant pressure from the U.S.
The U.S. has introduced restrictions on Venezuela’s oil exports, the country’s key source of income, as well as its gold business, making it difficult to sell mined gold abroad.
The U.S. reportedly seized $7 billion in assets belonging to state oil company PDVSA and its US subsidiary, Citgo, after the U.S. extended full support behind self-proclaimed “interim-president” Guaido.
In January, the Bank of England refused to return 41.2billion in gold to Venezuela stored in the bank’s vault. Venezuela holds a portion of its gold reserves in London.
The latest default on the agreement with the German lender comes months after Venezuela’s failure to meet a deadline to buy back gold from international banking giant Citigroup for nearly $1.1 billion.
Spoils of Economic War: the U.S., Saudis profit from sanctions
A teleSUR commentary said [excerpts, and in bried]:
The United States has been playing the role of the world’s economic bully. So far, the U.S. has imposed sanctions against Afghanistan, Burundi, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, China, Cyprus, Haiti, Libya, Lebanon, Belarus, Crimea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
A glance at the political economy of international oil markets, an industry used as a battlefield to further the aims of war, provides insight into the irrational realm toward the U.S. sanction-tool.
Since international markets are highly speculative, the U.S. does not sit back as a patient price taker but prefers to throw the dice as a price maker.
High oil prices allowed the fracking industry to become a financially viable option.
This, in turn, helped the U.S. gradually overcome the dependence on imported oil it had experienced for 30 years. The U.S. was the world’s largest oil importer in 2016, with a voracious appetite of around 12 million barrels per day (bpd).
In December 2018, for the first time in the last 75 years, the U.S. became a net oil exporter due to “thousands of wells producing from the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico to Bakken in North Dakota and Marcellus in Pennsylvania,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We (the U.S.) are becoming the dominant power in the world,” as Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, Inc. said.
This abundance of energy is fragile, because maintaining it depends on keeping oil prices as high as possible.
Therefore, to force this to happen, anything that threatens to diminish global oil supplies is actually good for the U.S., including the blockade of Venezuelan and Iranian exports.
And that’s not all…
If you can’t make more pie, make sure you control the slices.
While the U.S. now has enough oil to be able to export some of its reserves, the U.S. can’t satisfy the world’s energy demands completely. This opens up business opportunities for Saudi Arabia and other allies who can also benefit from economic sanctions against Venezuela and Iran.
Before April 2018, when the U.S. began applying a new round of sanctions against the Persian nation, Iran was OPEC’s second largest producer and exported almost 3 million bpd. Since then, however, its oil production has been reduced by more than 1 million bpd.
Between February 2018 and January 2019, Venezuela’s average oil output decreased from 1.5 million bpd to 1.1 million bpd, which is almost 50 percent below its production levels in 2006.
Sergi Lanau: Oil production in Venezuela and Iran fell further in May. In both countries, production is down more than 30% since U.S. sanctions were imposed. Looks like sanctions will continue to be one of the forces shaping the oil market Sergi Lanau @SergiLanauIIF
These have triggered a trend towards the contraction of global oil supplies, which could be worsened if the Libyan civil war adds another cut of 1.2 million bpd in the near future.
Nevertheless, the oil market’s invisible hand is not enough to ensure that those high prices the U.S. desperately needs, since global supply basically meets global demand, moving around 99.5 million bpd, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This won’t change one its own — global economic growth will not easily lead to a new boom in oil demand. On the contrary, factors such as the U.S. trade war against China and Brexit could reduce growth prospects all over the world.
In this context, where oil demand remains more or less fixed, putting Venezuela and Iran out of business changes the portion of pie each country gets. And, of course, only the lucky ones get to continue enjoying their slice of the oil markets. Among these is Saudi Arabia, a country that will be able to capture more clients and expand its oil output without violating its OPEC commitments.
Oil prices have already responded to the U.S.’s politically-motivated supply shortages. The average crude oil spot price rose from US$56 per barrel in January to US$67 per barrel in May, a 16 percent increase. This would not have been possible without the sanctions that prevented Venezuela from selling over 50 percent of its production in February.
Certainly, the international average oil price will most likely remain below US$100 per barrel, but current unstable equilibrium prices are enough to keep U.S. companies in the fossil-fuel business at home and abroad. One of the short-term costs of this maneuver could be price volatility. However, it seems that the U.S. have assimilated such an eventuality — global stability hasn’t ever been one of the U.S’s. foreign policy priorities.
Shirly Guo: In the past week, 36 countries （#China #Russia #India #Iran #Turky #EU #Mexico #Cuba #Venezuela ）on the planet have received warnings, sanctions or threats from US ShirleyGuo @ShirleyGuo18
Looking at it pragmatically, the negative consequences of harassing Venezuela and Iran are outweighed by a very lucrative reward: 2 million oil barrels per day.
“The U.S. currently removes about two million barrels of oil per day from the world’s supply through sanctions on the Iran and Venezuela industries. But Washington hopes that soaring U.S. oil production – now at an all-time high of more than 12 million barrels per day – will keep global markets well-supplied and hold prices down,” Reuters commented on May 5.
The political manipulation of supply and demand is a risky rent-seeking game. And this is where Trump’s personality could play a key role — he is not a risk-averse player. So far, he seems unconcerned with the collateral damage arising from his economic warfare.
One of them is that U.S. sanctions “will help oil producers because the prices will go up, and Russia will be one of the most significant oil producers,” said Robert Malley, former Middle East aide to President Barack Obama, as reported by RIA Novosti.
We are no longer living in that “good old world” in which U.S. geopolitics had to do with ensuring the flow of cheap natural resources from the closest friendly provider.
“Hence, paradoxically, a regional production crisis near U.S. territory could be good for the U.S. in the medium term,” Giancarlo Elia Valori wrote in Geostrategic and added that “the U.S. is entirely in favor of an increase in the oil barrel price – and hence indirectly in favor of tension in Venezuela.”
The “almighty” dollar would fall from grace with back up from oil
The rise of China as a global power has been silently transforming the international monetary system, another element triggering the U.S. into endless economic bullying.
Since the abandonment of the gold standard in 1971, the U.S. dollar is not linked to any assets, becoming a fiat currency. In these kinds of cases, only a country’s output could back the currency in the long term. But what happens when monetary expansion occurs faster than increases in productivity?
Bringing new meaning to the “In God We Trust” motto coined so long ago, the dollar’s value depends on its capacity to remain an international reserve currency; that is, a currency other countries hold as part of their foreign exchange reserves and use in their international transactions.
In a world where economic agents don’t ask the Federal Reserve to convert their notes into gold or any other physical asset, trust is the only thing keeping the U.S. upright. As a result, the dollar has remained a mighty currency because most international transactions are traded in U.S. dollars.
On January 30, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, in fact, revealed very little when he blatantly admitted that the coup attempt in Venezuela was really about grasping for oil resources.
If the dollar stops being the world’s most traded currency, the U.S. will not be able to issue the notes it needs to finance an almost 50-year-old federal deficit, which rose from US$666 billion in 2017 to US$779 billion in 2018.
“The U.S. budget deficit by year is how much more the federal government spends than it receives in revenue annually. In the Fiscal Year 2020, U.S. budget deficit is expected to be US$1.1 trillion.
“That’s the biggest deficit since 2012,” wrote Kimberly Amadeo in The Balance, noting how President Trump has ramped up the U.S. deficit to pay for record-high levels of military spending.
The dollar losing status as the world’s preferred currency would give the U.S. problems paying for imports in an economy where its lack of international competitiveness has given it a trade deficit since 1976, which widened to US$50 billion in March.
If the dollar stops being almighty, the U.S. will have a very difficult time maintaining itself as a first-world-class economy, since it’s federal debt exceeded US$22 trillion in February. This amount represents over 76 percent of what the U.S. is able to produce in one year. Nevertheless, this is most likely to get worse: the debt-to-GDP ratio in the United States will rise to 150 percent by 2049, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Besides preventing Venezuela and Iran from exporting their natural resources, the U.S. is actively seeking to avoid the dollar’s collapse, an inevitability in the next few years, as the history of previous empires has already shown.
This is why the Trump administration is prone to fighting the use of barter, virtual currencies or other alternative international payment methods.
U.S. sanctions are not whimsical expressions of the U.S. They are tools used to retain hegemonic power in a multipolar world no longer willing to tolerate such an aspiration. At the core of U.S. bullying is not ideological disagreement but economic decline.
Support for Venezuelan is not negotiable: Cuba
Cuba reaffirmed its support for Venezuela despite new restrictions imposed by the U.S. on the island for supporting President Maduro.
Cuba is rejecting once again the latest cultural and educational restrictions imposed by the U.S. on the island country for supporting Venezuelan President Maduro, saying support for the Venezuelan leader is “not negotiable.”
U.S. secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin said the new restrictions were put in place this week to “destabilize” Cuba’s role in Latin America, especially its support for Venezuelan President Maduro and Nicaraguan President Ortega.
“Cuba’s solidarity with the constitutional President Nicolas Maduro Moros, the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution and the civil-military union of its people, is not negotiable,” said a Cuban official statement released on Thursday.
Starting June 5, U.S. citizens are prohibited from making group educational and cultural trips known as ‘people to people’ travel to Cuba.
By imposing these measures, the U.S. reinforced more than 60 years of the economic blockade on the country that has lost US$ 933 billion so far due to the economic blocks.
The Cuban government also said that the more than 20,000 Cubans are living in Venezuela providing social services to the people, especially in the health sector. They will continue doing so as long as Venezuelan people will welcome them.
U.S. army intervention in Venezuela would be disaster: Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela would be a disaster.
He said even Washington’s allies did not support such a course of action.
“We are against intervention into interior political affairs of other countries. We think it causes drastic, if not tragic consequences. The cases of countries like Libya, Iraq are the best proof to that,” the Russia leader told journalists.
He added Russia does not approve of such ideas or plans towards Venezuela, a country that has traditionally been a close ally.
“We do not approve, we condemn such actions, let alone military intervention, it is a disaster. But as I assume, according to the information I have, even the U.S. allies do not support military intervention.”
Speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg, Putin also said that Russian technical specialists remained in Venezuela in order to service Russian military hardware, something he said they were contractually obliged to do.
He said Moscow was not setting up any special military bases in Venezuela.
Countercurrents is an English language, internationally supported blog based in India.