Contributed by Joe Montero
Last week, Donald Trump issued his Executive Order to “block the property of the government of Venezuela,” and authorised sanctions on persons, companies and nations, said to provide support for the Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, and this included a naval blockade on ships taking cargo into Venezuela.
Immediately, shows of support for Venezuela took place around the world, and this included Australia.
In Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, there was a huge rally showing support for their president.
Nicolas Maduro at no More Trump Caracas rally on 10 August 2019
Video from Multimedio VTV
Venezuelans are heading for centres to sign a petition calling on the United states to lift the blockade and it is expected to soon top 13 million out of a popualtion of around 30 million.
Regardless of anything else, it is wrong to punish a population for not supporting the ambitions of a big power. The sanctions that have been in place for some years, and their new extension, are not designed to punish a government and its leader. They are designed to punish ordinary civilians and drive them into desperation.
Why else would anyone deny them vital supplies to ensure good health and an acceptable standard of living? This is a method that the history of colonial power has been filled with, and it is isolating Washington, in a world increasingly learning the thruth,
Targeting individuals in this way, is a violation of a basic human right that the US claims to uphold.
Targeting shipping of other nations is an act of piracy, propelling Washington’s politics back to the seventeenth century era of big power rivalry duing the conquest of the New World. It does not belong the modern age. The oceans are international waters. No country has the right to use them to seize another nation’s commercial shipping at will.
By seizing a ship carrying a 25,000 ton load of soy product on the Panama Canal last week, Washington showed its willingness to deny food to the [people of Venezuela and to commit acts of war against third nations, in direct contravention of international law, including the United Nations Charter and human rights laws. Such acts have no place in a civilised society. It is morally wrong.
Information coming through suggests a strategy aimed at creating the conditions for war, with implications for Venezuela and the world.
For Venezuela, the possibility of a direct military intervention has become more real. Washington has made it clear that it has no interest in internationally brokered talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. The elected president and government are not recognised, even though the international observer teams, which included former US president Jimmy carter, reported that the elections held were fair.
Instead, there has been support for the unelected Juan Guaido and other destabilising actions, including active economic sabotage, attacks on the nation’s power system, and backing Guaido’s recent failed attempt at a coup.
The problem is that backing Guaido has proved not not be a very good idea. his star is fading fast and it appears that Washington is desperately searching for a way out of the dilemma. This might propel towards greater reliance on aggression to full fil the ambition of “regime change.”
Ordinary Venezuelans are being targeted, because most of them support Nicolas Maduro and his government. Regardless of the opinions of the leaders of other nations, the people of Venezuela have a right to choose their own destiny. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that is most Venezuelans were against Maduro, there would be no need to punish them.
Trump’s escalation is designed to draw a line in the sand, instructing other nations that the United states is prepared to go to any lengths to impose its will. This raises the chances that a deliberate act or miscalculation will trigger war between nations. Russia, China and Iran are directly in the sights. But a conflict on this scale, brings the danger of world war and even the use of nuclear weapons.
This is extremely dangerous.
We must tell our own government that it needs to discover a bit of basic human decency and not take part in this abuse, disregard for proper conduct in international relations and the abuse of human rights.
We must tell our government to do what it can to help de-escalate conflict and support resolution of differences through talk.
We must call on the Australian government to support a policy of hands off Venezuela, support he right of the people of that nation to make their own choice and oppose bullying by external forces.