By Randi Nord
October 31 — United States sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have cost the Latin American nation $6 billion since August 2017, leaving the fate of healthcare and access to basic goods in jeopardy for millions of Venezuelans who are already struggling.
An anonymous source from the Trump administration told Reuters on October 17 that “all options are on the table” regarding even tighter sanctions against the country. This is part of a growing trend, as the Trump administration strengthens its attacks against socialist or left-leaning nations throughout Latin America.
According to a report from Canadian analyst Joe Emersberger, U.S. sanctions have quite literally starved Venezuelans out of a staggering $6 billion since the latest round took effect in August 2017, cutting Venezuela off from the global market.
To put this figure into perspective, $6 billion is more than 130 times the $46 million requested by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the “Venezuela situation” in March this year, which likely wouldn’t be needed if Caracas had financial support to provide for its citizens.
Emersberger points out that prior to this time, Venezuela’s crude oil output followed the same gradual decline as Colombia’s between January 2016 and August 2017, as overall oil prices fell. At that point, when the sanctions took effect, Venezuela’s oil production plummeted to record lows, with civilians bearing the brunt of the consequences.
Oil production is Venezuela’s primary source of income and foreign investment. Without funding from state-owned oil enterprises, the government struggles to provide healthcare to its population, with the most vulnerable facing most of the risk: pregnant women, the injured, the elderly, children and those with chronic illness.
U.S. aims to overthrow Bolivarian government
As with other countries such as Iran, Syria and Iraq, the Venezuela sanctions fall into Washington’s general strategy of causing widespread civil turmoil and ultimately collapsing adversarial governments from within by suffocating them out of the global capitalist market.
According to the Brookings Institution, over 4 million Venezuelans — 10 percent of the population — have fled the country as economic refugees. Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate rose 30 percent in 2016 alone and three-quarters of the country’s adult population have lost an average of 20 pounds.
Although Brookings blames mismanagement and “nothing else,” sanctions and economic war against Venezuela are the real source of deteriorating conditions within the country.
The August 2017 round of sanctions banned the Venezuelan government from accessing U.S. funding. Since Venezuela’s state-owned CITGO is based in Texas, this effectively held the enterprise hostage. A U.S. judge approved the seizure of CITGO entirely in August 2018.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames the United States and its allies in the right-wing opposition for launching an “economic war” against the country and putting political pressure on his government. Between 2009 and 2017, the United States government budgeted $49 million for violent right-wing militias and political opposition groups with the goal of overthrowing Venezuela’s revolutionary government.
The Trump administration also has its eyes on Cuba, particularly in regard to its support of Venezuela. Speaking to Reuters, an anonymous U.S. official stated that Washington plans to increase economic pressure on Cuba’s intelligence and military sectors. The source noted last week that President Donald Trump’s notorious national security advisor, John Bolton, would soon elaborate on the Cuba question.
At the U.N. General Assembly last month, Trump pointed the finger of blame at Venezuela’s “Cuban sponsors” for the current crisis.
Randi Nord is editor of Geopolitics Alert and a Detroit-area activist. A version of this article originally ran at mintpressnews.com.