World Economy

Harsher Sanctions Will Worsen Venezuela Crisis

Harsher Sanctions Will Worsen Venezuela CrisisHarsher Sanctions Will Worsen Venezuela Crisis

The Trump administration extended current economic sanctions against Venezuela last week, adding 13 more Venezuelans to the list of sanctioned individuals.

Under US law, the president’s executive order has to state an obvious falsehood, that there is “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States caused by Venezuela. And the sanctions clearly violate the charter of the Organization of American States (Chapter 4, Article 19), as well as other international treaties to which the US is a signatory, news outlets reported.

But the real danger is what comes next, as the Trump administration has threatened to impose vastly more severe sanctions on the Venezuelan economy, which is already mired in a deep depression and plagued by shortages of food and medicine.

On Friday, a group of members of Congress published a letter opposing the threatened sanctions. It began, “We write to express our deep alarm regarding the escalating political, economic and social crisis in Venezuela and urge you to work with our regional partners to help prevent a civil war.

“We strongly recommend that you support negotiations mediated by respected external actors such as Pope Francis, who enjoys credibility with broad segments of Venezuela’s government, opposition, and civil society. We further encourage you to abstain from implementing unilateral economic sanctions, which could deepen the country’s economic and political crisis and undermine any movement toward dialogue and negotiations,” The Hill quoted the letter as saying.

Venezuelans rejected the sanctions by an overwhelming margin in a poll last week, with 63% against and only 26% supporting them. Even among supporters of the opposition, a majority were opposed to the sanctions. (The poll was carried out by Datanalisis, the most widely cited polling firm in the international media.)

The Trump administration threatened to impose the new sanctions in order to force the Venezuelan government not to hold a planned election (conducted on Sunday). The election, which the opposition boycotted, was to choose an assembly of representatives that would draw up a new constitution. The pretext for the sanctions is that the new Constitutional Assembly will essentially carry out a coup d’etat, abolishing the National Assembly—which the opposition won by a wide margin in December 2015—and allowing President Nicolas Maduro to cancel presidential elections, which are due next year.

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