By Aram Aharonian
The blockade and the new sanctions that freeze all Venezuelan assets in U.S. territory, ordered by the regime of Donald Trump, is nothing more than another act of economic terrorism that seeks, in the first place, to break the dialogue between the constitutional government and the opposition and marks the attempt to impose a tutelage on the country.
The decision was applauded by the opposition Juan Guaidó, self-proclaimed interim president last January, and whose credibility and ancestry has come in low, according to all opinion polls.
The meeting of U.S. allies/accomplices held in Peru aimed to find a solution to the Venezuelan crisis, but ended with no concrete result. There, Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, privately presented a series of “suggestions” that his country poses for an eventual day after Maduro’s exit from power. More than suggestions was the plan already outlined by the trumpist government to seize Venezuela.
The intention of the Trump administration seems clear: to dynamite the agreements that were advancing between chavismo and the opposition, since the economic asphyxiation against Venezuela is one of the essential points under discussion.
It is a clear intrusion into the internal affairs of another country, that Maduro’s reelected government leaves power and is transferred to the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó – on instructions from the White House – to impose the tutelage of the nation. That is to say, Washington suggests holding “free elections” but bets on a coup plot, which already has an economic and political plan elaborated by Washington and disseminated by Wilbur Ross at the meeting of the Lima Group.
Mexico and Uruguay, which have defended non-interference in Venezuelan affairs, did not attend the meeting.
U.S. Reveals Plan to Kill Socialism
The meeting in Peru aimed to find a solution to the Venezuelan crisis, but ended without a concrete result. There, Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, presented in private to representatives of 57 countries, a series of “suggestions” that his country poses for an eventual “day after” the exit of Maduro from power.
The key for Venezuela, according to Ross, will be to ensure that “private investment is based on confidence in economic growth, based on economic reforms, the rule of law, transparency, global cooperation and regional integration,” recognising that beyond that, and at the heart of any project for the country, should be oil and natural gas, “which once helped to make Venezuela great are still there. They just need to be rehabilitated after years of bad management,” he said.
Ross classified efforts to achieve Venezuelan “prosperity” into four main categories: the energy sector, macroeconomic and financial stabilisation, agricultural normalisation and private sector rehabilitation, with short, medium and long-term objectives that will require initial help from U.S. resources and experts to “start the machinery,” “whenever Maduro and his colleagues leave.
“The short term includes immediate humanitarian aid, one or two months after Maduro. The medium term will be working to reverse the impact of socialism within three to 12 months, and long-term efforts will be to restore sustainable economic growth, he said. On a case-by-case basis, suggestions for energy include instituting pro-market reforms and promoting the participation of private firms through a new hydrocarbons law, according to Spanish news agency EFE.
Then the regulation of energy companies should be improved, facilitating private investment and bidding, as well as repairing the energy generation system, Ross said.
As for macroeconomic stabilization, the first thing the U.S. plans to do will be to eliminate sanctions and promote credit, sending technical advisors and seeking the confidence of international financial institutions in the new economic policies. Later, the Central Bank, the tax system, the fiscal institutions and the banking sector will be renewed in the context of a long-term agreement with the IMF and the need for economic stability and free elections.
Venezuelan agriculture will have a shock treatment and will receive imports of seeds, fertilizers, equipment and technical advice, he added. Next, greater agricultural cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuela will be encouraged, while “stimulating local supply chains” so that producers can meet the country’s needs.
In the private sector, the U.S. will remove trade restrictions “for U.S. companies,” help mobilise trade contacts with Venezuela and support market and business reforms.
Improving the business climate, attracting foreign investment, eliminating state controls, implementing privatization strategies and tackling corruption would be the steps to follow, accompanied by essential infrastructure arrangements, such as the oil wells of Lake Maracaibo or the refinery complex of Paraguaná.
In any case, Ross pointed out that all these plans are only “suggestions” that the hypothetical government of Juan Guaidó should take “if it decides if it is the best thing for his country. There is no longer even talk of support for elections, but of the imposition of the puppet so that the U.S. can take over the country.
For Venezuela, the new escalation of economic terrorism measures by the Trump regime consists of the disqualification of the Venezuelan State and any company related to it, whether in Venezuela or abroad, from making deals, which will directly affect the import of food (measures against the food guarantee system) and the international purchase of medicines for the public health system.
Likewise, the provision of essential public services, such as electricity and water, which depend on (mostly) U.S. technologies and which are supplied by companies linked to that country, could be further compromised given the impossibility for these suppliers to enter into direct or indirect agreements with the Venezuelan State.
Bolton explained that this broad executive order authorises the U.S. government to identify and impose sanctions on anyone who continues to provide support to the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.
During the pompously called International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela, Bolton added: “We tell Russia and China that their support for Maduro’s regime is intolerable, particularly for the democratic regime that will replace Maduro. We say again to Russia, and especially to those who control its finances: don’t double a bad bet.
In contrast, Russia, China, the European Union and Cuba rejected new U.S. actions against Venezuela, including the freezing of all assets of the Bolivarian government. Likewise, Americans will be prohibited from engaging in transactions with anyone determined to back President Nicolas Maduro or his government.
Those who support the Venezuelan president may not enter U.S. territory either, according to the decree signed by President Donald Trump. For analysts, with this new offensive, Washington and its allies are betting on the failure of the political dialogue, since they fear its results and benefits.
For the Caracas government, the economic, financial and commercial blockade already in place has caused severe wounds in Venezuelan society during the last few years, and he maintained that the only objective is to hang the people in order to force an unconstitutional change of government in the country.
The White House and its allies are seeking new opportunities and resources to usurp and plunder what belongs to the more than 30 million Venezuelans, the government added.
Venezuela, which has already been facing a U.S. oil embargo since April and a series of sanctions between its main leaders. The foreign ministry said the country will face the new executive order with an alternative economic architecture, which will include the reinforcement of shipping lines and suppliers of basic inputs. Faced with the interruption of the dialogue in Barbados, he said that the dialogue between the government and the opposition will produce the first agreements, when the United States stops bombing the process.
In New York, Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, demanded a response from that international organization to Washington’s aggressions against Caracas and, above all, against the Venezuelan population.
A comprehensive embargo on the Venezuelan economy
According to Miami’s El Nuevo Herald, Trump “substantially expanded the sanctions” against Venezuela by “taking the economic blockade imposed on Venezuela to extremes similar to those applied to North Korea, Iran and Cuba,” which “would allow the application of sanctions against any individual or company that sustains operations or provides any kind of support to the Caracas regime,” which deepens the asphyxia against Venezuela.
The complexity of the measure and the derivations that it would have, means that any oil company, financial entity or any economic activity of trade in goods and services that has any link with the United States will be subject to punitive actions, applying the methodology of “sanctions” that Washington unilaterally executes against countries behind the back of international law.
According to international jurisprudence, the only entity empowered to issue sanctions is the UN Security Council, and for that express reason, the measures taken by the U.S. government against Venezuela are illegal.
The measure calls into question any act of alienation, transfer and confiscation by orders of U.S. courts of Cirgo, as was recently proposed by a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Canadian transnational Crystallex, which claims through properties of Citgo the payment of 1,800 million dollars.
But the embargo measure involves the U.S. government’s own total control of those assets in an exercise of clear discretion, which means loss for granted of those assets of the Republic of Venezuela.
Trump’s special advisor Elliott Abrams also wanted to condition the dialogue: “clearly there must be new free and fair elections. And it is not possible for there to be free and fair elections with Maduro in the presidency,” he said. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that within the framework of the talks in Barbados “it would be inconceivable to have elections that really represent the Venezuelan people if Maduro continues to be present in the country.
But the calculations are not about the voting intention that Venezuelans might have, but it also calibrates the electoral scenarios in U.S. domestic politics, projecting Trump’s re-election as a long-term race. These measures, against Venezuela and the intensification of the embargo against Cuba, seem to be aimed at the Cuban and Venezuelan diaspora sectors, located in the determining state of Florida.
Uruguayan journalist and communicologist. Master in Integration. Founder of Telesur. He presides over the Foundation for Latin American Integration (FILA) and directs the Latin American Center for Strategic Analysis (CLAE, www.estrategia.la).