US sanctions on Venezuela aren’t about democracy, they’re about control


“The United States seems destined by Providence to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty” – Venezuelan revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar, 1829.

US sanctions have killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans, according to the 2021 United Nations report that examined the effects of banking restrictions and economic embargo imposed on the South American country.

“Sectorial sanctions on the oil, gold and mining industries, the economic blockade, the freezing of Central Bank assets, the targeted sanctions imposed on Venezuelans and third country nationals and companies and the over-compliance by banks and third-country companies have exacerbated the pre-existing economic and social crisis, with a devastating effect on the entire population,” the report concluded. “No strata of society has been untouched.”

The United States, naturally, claims the sanctions are for Venezuela’s own good. In fact, the Biden administration is threatening to tighten them further.

“Do as we say, or suffer the consequences,” would appear then to be the command of the United States. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, it didn’t to Nicaraguans either. Alarmed by growing support for the country’s Sandinista movement, US President Ronald Reagan demanded the country hold free elections to legitimize its popular governance.

They did, and the Sandinistas won with two-thirds of the vote. And so, Nicaraguans suffered the consequences as US-funded death squads wreaked havoc across the country. The Contras were responsible for some 1,300 terrorist attacks throughout Nicaragua, targeting schools, health clinics, and using rape as a weapon of war.

Six years later, support for the Sandinistas’ social programs remained high, but Nicaraguans were eager to put the Dirty War behind them. The Sandinistas lost the presidential election.

A few months ago, President Nicolás Maduro was asked about the United States’ criticism of Venezuela’s electoral system. “Do you want free elections?” he asked. “We want elections free from sanctions, blockades, aggression and economic warfare. Lift all the sanctions.”

Maduro insisted he wouldn’t be blackmailed by US threats. And, with polls showing him set to win the country’s upcoming election, it seems the Venezuelan people won’t be, either.


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