- 12 March 2015
On March 9, 2015, US President Obama issued an Executive Order declaring a "national emergency" affirming that "the situation in Venezuela" poses an"unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States". This is the latest measure of US imperialist meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation like the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and as such is strongly condemned by the Hands off Venezuela campaign.
The terms of Obama's Executive Order would be farcical if the situation was not in fact very dangerous. The Order names 7 officials of the Venezuelan state whose assets are to be frozen and their entry into the US blocked, but in reality this is an unjustified attack against the national sovereignty of Venezuela. The government of the US has not even produced any evidence that any of these individuals have any assets in the US or have travelled to the US in the past.
The idea that these sanctions are imposed with the aim of defending human rights, freedom of expression, democratic institutions and attacking corruption in Venezuela is laughable if one looks at the track record of the United States.
For example, the government of the United States:
- is responsible for local police forces which regularly kill unarmed teenagers just because of the colour of their skin.
- is involved in mass surveillance and spying on its own citizens.
- carries out the illegal detention and torturing of foreign citizens at its military base in Guantanamo, despite Obama's promise to close it down.
- through its CIA is involved in the kidnapping and torturing of foreign citizens in countries outside the USA.
Throughout its history the USA has been involved in countless interventions in foreign countries in order to depose governments they did not like and to support and defend brutal dictatorships. More recently, in Latin America Washington has been involved in successful and failed coups in Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009) and Paraguay (2012).
In Colombia and Mexico, the government of the United States has no problem in supporting governments which are responsible for horrific violations of human rights, corruption, linked to drug cartels, etc. No Executive Orders in these cases. They are not considered “a threat to national security”.
How can President Obama even talk about human rights and democratic institutions when barely six weeks ago he headed a high level delegation to Saudi Arabia to attend the funeral of this country's ruthless despot and described him as "one of our closest allies"?
How can the President of the US describe Venezuela as an "extraordinary threat to US national security" when the United States was directly involved in the coup which overthrew the democratically elected government of President Hugo Chávez in April 2002? The US has not ceased to fund and support opposition groups in Venezuela that have been involved in attempts to remove by force the democratically elected government of the country. Washington has not ceased in its constant interference against the democratic will of the Venezuelan people. Who is a threat to whom?
The only threat which Venezuela presents to US imperialism is the threat of being a good example. Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution has eradicated illiteracy, massively extended free health care and education, substantially reduced poverty and unemployment, built affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of families and generally inspired progressive and democratic change in the whole of Latin America and beyond. Chavez's call for socialism has reverberated among millions of workers and youth across the world who are suffering from the policies of cuts and austerity. Even in the United States, thousands of poor families have benefited from fuel subsidies provided by the Venezuelan government.
The democratic credentials of the Bolivarian revolution cannot be questioned by anyone. There have been 18 elections and referenda since 1998, with all bar one (December 2007) being won by the candidates and proposals of the Bolivarian movement. This year there will be National Assembly elections again.
The latest sanctions imposed by President Obama affect only 7 individuals, but in reality they represent a threat to the Bolivarian revolution. They are an escalation on of the sanctions already imposed in December 2014 and the language used opens the door for further and more severe economic sanctions, the funding of opposition groups in violation of national sovereignty and other forms of intervention. It is not by chance that this Executive Order comes less than a month of the uncovering of a coup plot in Venezuela, the organisation of which took place partly in on US soil.
Given these events we reaffirm our solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution and the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela faced with imperialist aggression. We call on the labour movement, the youth and progressive and democratic public opinion throughout the world to join in a powerful movement rejecting US interference in Venezuela.