The United Nations’ Human Rights Council slammed Washington’s latest sanctions imposed on Venezuela, adding that such an embargo will worsen the famine in the once oil-rich nation in Latin America.
“I am deeply worried about the potentially severe impact on the human rights of the people of Venezuela of the new set of unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. this week,” U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
Despite criticizing Maduro, Bachelet, the former Chilean president warned that those sanctions would target millions of Venezuelans who have been struggling to survive since the global oil price dropped sharply in 2014, leading to the worst economic crisis.
“However, they are still likely to significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans,” Bachelet stated.
Last Monday (August,5), U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that applied a Cuban-like embargo that froze all Venezuelan government assets and blocked transactions with its authorities, as the Wall Street Journal reported.
Those sanctions will hurt individuals affiliated with Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro, whose re-election in 2018 was not recognized by the U.S. and its Western allies due to the vote-rigging allegations.
The U.S. and European countries backed Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself as an interim president, echoed by Western corporate media outlets.
The crisis has forced Venezuelans to seek a better life in neighboring Colombia. The U.N. refugees’ agency (UNHCR) estimated the numbers of Venezuelans living abroad will reach 4 million by the end of 2019.
The food sanctions hurt more than anything else
Previously, Washington slapped sanctions on Venezuelan’s oil and mining companies as well as the latter’s food subsidy. U.S. Department of Treasury press release at the end of July claimed that a Colombian named Alex Nain Saab was behind the corruption network that enabled Maduro to benefit from food import.
Paul Dobson, a writer for Venezuelaanalysis, stated that the sanction targeting the food subsidy program called CLAP could have a severe impact on Venezuelans’ access to food.
Mismanagement in Venezuela’s oil sector and corruption have contributed to the country’s crisis. However, a U.N. report in 2017 showed that U.S. and Canada-backed sanctions have worsened humanitarian disaster in the country where 96 percent of its export is from the oil industry.
Former U.N. rapporteur Alfred DeZayas called on the International Criminal Court to investigate those sanctions deemed as crimes against humanity. The international law expert added that the U.S-backed embargoes were illegal as the U.N Security Council did not endorse those embargoes.
Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns.
“Twenty-first-century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees,” Mr de Zayas’ report said, as The Independent wrote.
However, De Zayas was disappointed that the report gained little media attention and did not spark a debate as he had expected.
Venezuela is not the only country hit by the U.S. embargo
Washington uses sanctions as a tool to punish countries opposing its will. These countries have been affected by U.S. sanctions:
Cuba: Washington slapped an economic embargo on Cuba in the 1960s after the socialist figure Fidel Castro took power. The tension between Washington and Havana worsened in 1962 when Castro allowed the deployment of then-Soviet missiles in the Communist island state, leading to travel and commerce restriction for all people and companies under the U.S law.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama brought a new change when he and Cuban interim leader Raul Castro (Fidel’s younger brother) agreed to re-open diplomatic ties in December 2014. In March 2016, Obama made a historic visit to Cuba, the first POTUS visiting Cuba in the last 88 years.
Fidel died in November 2016, just a few weeks before Donald Trump was inaugurated as the POTUS. Trump took a different path by reversing what the Obama administration did.
Iran: Washington sanctioned Iran in November 2018, just a few months after Trump announced the U.S. would abandon the Iran deal (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action/JCPOA) signed in 2015. Trump stated the nuclear pact was not adequate in forcing Iran to stop its nuclear ambition despite Iran’s compliance with the deal stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Washington’s embargo affected Iran’s oil sector as the sanctions also target countries that import oil from Iran. Multinational companies decided to leave Iran, and the sanctions also hit the country’s poorest.
On July 31, Washington barred Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after refusing to attend the White House in early July.
North Korea: The U.N. Security Council has imposed several sanctions since Pyongyang withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003. Those penalties include the ban on specific imported luxury goods and the restriction of technical and scientific partnership with North Korea.
The U.S. added more massive sanctions targeting a bigger number of North Korea individuals and business entities. Washington-backed penalties also hit North Korea’s nuclear program while some of the sanctions were responses to the Communist state’s cyber attacks ( violation of Sony’s computer system in 2014 and Wannacry ransomware attack in 2017 as the CFR wrote).
Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un have met three times, but the talks failed to produce concrete measures regarding denuclearization. North Korea wants the U.S to remove the sanctions partially, but the U.S. urges Pyongyang to dismantle all nuclear weapons ahead of the sanctions’ removal.
China: The U.S. and China have been involved in a year-long trade dispute, triggered by Washington’s accusation that China has carried out fraudulent business practices. As a result, the world’s biggest economies have slapped a tariff on each other.
In early August, Washington planned to slap a 10 percent tariff on Chinese imported goods after the trade talks failed. According to Dan Ives, a tech analyst at Wedbush Securities, those tariffs are expected to cut tech giant Apple’s sales between $ 6 billion and $ 8 billion in 2020.
Last May, Trump included China tech giant Huawei in the blacklist, preventing the firm from doing business with American companies without permits.
In September 2018, the U.S. sanctioned China for buying 10 SukhoiSu-35 jet fighters and surface-to-air missile system S-400 from Russia.