No ethics when it comes to US enemies, even in the middle of a deadly pandemic
After a week, she is having trouble breathing, but when she goes to the nearest hospital, there is a shortage of medical staff to process her admission as many have succumbed to the virus due to a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment). There are also no ventilators to assist her to breathe.
She knows this could spell the end of her life, and there will be no one to take care of the three children she has left alone at home.
This is what happens when the noose of sanctions are tightened on a country in the middle of a global health pandemic - a country that already had a collapsing economy thanks to unilaterally imposed US sanctions.
There are no ethics or conscience when it comes to US enemies, even in the middle of a deadly pandemic. If denying Venezuelans life-saving medicine and equipment might hasten the collapse of the Maduro regime, then the US is all for it.
US allies are too scared to fill the vacuum and deliver the desperately needed aid and assistance to Venezuela, even on a humanitarian basis, due to the threat of secondary sanctions on countries that buck the US economic blockade. It is only countries like China, Russia, and Cuba that have assisted the people of Venezuela in their fight against Covid-19.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was correct when he said in March that the US’ illegal and unilateral coercive measures against his country were a form of collective punishment.
Under the 1949 Geneva Convention, collective punishment is a war crime and a crime against humanity as defined by the UN International Law Commission. When countries refuse to send medicine and supplies to Venezuela in the middle of a global health pandemic due to the unilateral US sanctions regime, they too are complicit in a war crime.
The US has laid down the gauntlet - any firm that trades with Venezuela’s public sector could face secondary sanctions.
But the health infrastructure in Venezuela is run by the state, which has made it virtually impossible to access medical equipment, supplies, Covid-19 testing kits and medicine.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, airlines and shipping companies have been too afraid to go to Venezuela to deliver essential goods exported from countries that refuse to be cowed by US bully tactics.
As a result, Venezuelans are dying, and the US is under the misguided notion that this will put an end to the great Bolivarian revolution, and finally succeed in its regime change agenda - with a little help from Covid-19.
What is that notorious concept: “Don’t waste a good crisis?”
This inhumanity has not escaped condemnation by senior UN officials. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called for sanctions to be eased or suspended during the pandemic.
Three UN Special Rapporteurs have called on the US to lift sanctions on Venezuela due to the severe impact on the human rights of its people.
We have to give it to the Americans: they don’t even try to hide or nuance their intentions any more - they put them out there for us on a silver platter. In February, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Munich Conference that “the US seeks to oust Maduro.”
In March, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the US tightened its sanctions on the country.
US President Donald Trump wasted no time in waving a red flag to a bull by stationing a naval detachment off the coast of Venezuela, to prove that the US is a very real and present danger.
In May, one of the highest- ranking members of the Republican party, Lindsay Graham, penned an article in the Wall Street Journal which said: “The US must be willing to intervene in Venezuela the way it did in Grenada.”
In 1983, the US had overthrown the legitimate government of Grenada through military intervention.
Graham went even further to say: “If measures are not taken then, the US should move military assets to the region.”
But such threats form only part of the range of techniques the US uses to undermine foreign governments it does not find palatable to its national interests. It’s what is called a “hybrid war”.
Another favourite tactic is to pressure the International Monetary Fund to deny such governments much needed funds in the context of a suffocating sanctions regime. The US Treasury Department has pressured the IMF to deny Venezuela access to emergency funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
When President Nicolas Maduro wrote to the IMF requesting a $5 billion loan from the Covid-19 emergency fund to strengthen Venezuela’s detection and response systems, the request was flatly denied.
Whoever believed the mantra of the Western-controlled international financial institutions, “We are all in this together?”
What they should have said is, “All lives matter as long as you are not Venezuelan, Cuban, Iranian, or North Korean.”
* Shannon Ebrahim is the foreign editor of the Independent Media Group.