Archive | Venezuela

Your Complete Guide to the N.Y. Times’ Support of U.S.-backed Coups in Latin America


On Friday, The New York Times continued its long, predictable tradition of backing U.S. coups in Latin America by publishing an editorial praising Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This will be the 10th such coup the paper has backed since the creation of the CIA over 70 years ago.

A survey of The New York Times archives shows the Times editorial board has supported 10 out of 12 American-backed coups in Latin America, with two editorials—those involving the 1983 Grenada invasion and the 2009 Honduras coup—ranging from ambiguous to reluctant opposition. The survey can be viewed here.

Covert involvement of the United States, by the CIA or other intelligence services, isn’t mentioned in any of the Times’ editorials on any of the coups. Absent an open, undeniable U.S. military invasion (as in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada), things seem to happen in Latin American countries entirely on their own, with outside forces rarely, if ever, mentioned in the Times. Obviously, there are limits to what is “provable” in the immediate aftermath of such events (covert intervention is, by definition, covert), but the idea that the U.S. or other imperial actors could have stirred the pot, funded a junta or run weapons in any of the conflicts under the table is never entertained.

More often than not, what one is left with, reading Times editorials on these coups, are racist, paternalistic “cycle of violence” cliches. Sigh, it’s just the way of things Over There. When reading these quotes, keep in mind the CIA supplied and funded the groups that ultimately killed these leaders:

  • Brazil 1964: “They have, throughout their history, suffered from a lack of first class rulers.”
  • Chile 1973: “No Chilean party or faction can escape some responsibility for the disaster, but a heavy share must be assigned to the unfortunate Dr. Allende himself.”
  • Argentina 1976: “It was typical of the cynicism with which many Argentines view their country’s politics that most people in Buenos Aires seemed more interested in a soccer telecast Tuesday night than in the ouster of President Isabel Martinez de Perlin by the armed forces. The script was familiar for this long‐anticipated coup.”

See, it didn’t matter! It’s worth pointing out the military junta put in power by the CIA-contrived coup killed 10,000 to 30,000 Argentines from 1976 to 1983.

There’s a familiar script: The CIA and its U.S. corporate partners come in, wage economic warfare, fund and arm the opposition, then the target of this operation is blamed. This, of course, isn’t to say there isn’t merit to some of the objections being raised by The New York Times—whether it be Chile in 1973 or Venezuela in 2019. But that’s not really the point. The reason the CIA and U.S. military and its corporate partisans historically target governments in Latin America is because those governments are hostile to U.S. capital and strategic interests, not because they are undemocratic. So while the points the Times makes about illiberalism may sometimes be true, they’re mostly a non sequitur when analyzing the reality of what’s unfolding.

Did Allende, as the Times alleged in 1973 when backing his violent overthrow, “persist in pushing a program of pervasive socialism” without a “popular mandate”? Did, as the Times alleged, Allende “pursue this goal by dubious means, including attempts to bypass both Congress and the courts”?

But Allende’s supposed authoritarianism isn’t why the CIA sought his ouster. It wasn’t his means of pursuing redistributive policies that offended the CIA and U.S. corporate partners; it was the redistributive policies themselves.

Hand-wringing over the anti-democratic nature of how Allende carried out his agenda without noting that it was the agenda itself—not the means by which it was carried out—that animated his opponents is butting into a conversation no one in power is really having. Why, historically, has The New York Times taken for granted the liberal pretexts for U.S. involvement, rather than analyzing whether there were possibly other, more cynical forces at work?

The answer is that rank ideology is baked into the premise. The idea that the U.S. is motivated by human rights and democracy is taken for granted by The New York Times editorial board and has been since its inception. This does all the heavy lifting without most people—even liberals vaguely skeptical of American motives in Latin America—noticing that a sleight of hand has taken place. “In recent decades,” a 2017 Times editorial scolding Russia asserted, “American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy, sometimes with extraordinary results.” Oh, well, good then.

What should be a conversation about American military and its covert apparatus unduly meddling in other countries quickly becomes a referendum on the moral properties of those countries. Theoretically a good conversation to have (and one certainly ongoing among people and institutions in these countries), but absent a discussion of the merits of the initial axiom—that U.S. talking heads and the Washington national security apparatus have a birthright to determine which regimes are good and bad—it serves little practical purpose stateside beyond posturing. And often, as a practical matter, it works to cement the broader narrative justifying the meddling itself.

Do the U.S. and its allies have a moral or ethical right to determine the political future of Venezuela? This question is breezed past, and we move on to the question of how this self-evident authority is best exercised. This is the scope of debate in The New York Times—and among virtually all U.S. media outlets. To ante up in the poker game of Serious People Discussing Foreign Policy Seriously, one is obligated to register an Official Condemnation of the Official Bad Regime. This is so everyone knows you accept the core premises of U.S. regime change but oppose it on pragmatic or legalistic grounds. It’s a tedious, extortive exercise designed to shift the conversation away from the United States’ history of arbitrary and violent overthrows and into an exchange about how best to oppose the Official Bad Regime in question. U.S. liberals are to keep a real-time report card on these Official Bad Regimes, and if these regimes—due to an ill-defined rubric of un-democraticness and human rights—fall below a score of say, “60,” they become illegitimate and unworthy of defense as such.

While obviously not in Latin America, it’s also worth noting that the Times cheerled the CIA-sponsored coup against Iran’s President, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. Its editorial, written two days after his ouster, engaged in the Times’ patented combination of victim-blaming and “oh dear” bloviating:

  • “The now-deposed Premier Mossadegh was flirting with Russia. He had won his phony plebiscite to dissolve the Majlis, or lower House of Parliament, with the aid of the Tudeh Communists.”
  • “Mossadegh is out, a prisoner awaiting trial. It is a credit to the Shah, to whom he was so disloyal, and to Premier Zahedi, that this rabid, self-seeking nationalist would have been protected at a time when his life would not have been worth the wager of a plugged nickel.”
  • “The Shah … deserves praise in this crisis. … He was always true to the parliamentary institutions of his country, he was a moderating influence in the wild fanaticism exhibited by the nationalists under Mossadegh, and he was socially progressive.”

Again, no mention of CIA involvement (which the agency now openly acknowledges), which the Times wouldn’t necessarily have had any way of knowing at the time. (This is part of the point of covert operations.) Mossadegh is summarily demonized, and it’s not until decades later the public learns of the extent of U.S. involvement. The Times even gets in an orientalist description of Iranians, implying why a strong Shah is necessary:

[The average Iranian] has nothing to lose. He is a man of infinite patience, of great charm and gentleness, but he is also—as we have been seeing—a volatile character, highly emotional, and violent when sufficiently aroused.

Needless to say, there are major difference between these cases: Mossadegh, Allende, Chavez and Maduro all lived in radically different times and championed different policies, with varying degrees of liberalism and corruption. But the one thing they all had in common is that the U.S. government, and a compliant U.S. media, decided they “needed to go” and did everything to achieve this end. The fundamental arrogance of this assumption, one would think, is what ought to be discussed in the U.S. media—as typified by the Times’ editorial board—but time and again, this assumption is either taken for granted or hand-waved away, and we all move on to how and when we can best overthrow the Bad Regime.

For those earnestly concerned about Maduro’s efforts to undermine the democratic institutions of Venezuela (he’s been accused of jailing opponents, stacking the courts and holding Potemkin elections), it’s worth pointing out that even when the liberal democratic properties of Venezuela were at their height in 2002 (they were internationally sanctioned and overseen by the Carter Center for years, and no serious observer considers Hugo Chavez’s rule illegitimate), the CIA still greenlit a military coup against Chavez, and the New York Times still profusely praised the act. As it wrote at the time:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.

Chavez would soon be restored to power after millions took to the streets to protest his removal from office, but the question remains: If The New York Times was willing to ignore the undisputed will of the Venezuelan people in 2002, what makes anyone think the newspaper is earnestly concerned about it in 2019? Again, the thing that’s being objected to by the White House, the State Department and their U.S. imperial apparatchiks is the redistributive policies and opposition to the United States’ will, not the means by which they do so. Perhaps the Times and other U.S. media—living in the heart of, and presumably having influence over, this empire—could try centering this reality rather than, for the millionth time, adjudicating the moral properties of the countries subject to its violent, illegitimate whims.

Posted in USA, South America, Venezuela0 Comments

A Note on the Crime Against Venezuela


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

To clarify the importance of the January 23rd coup attempt in Venezuela we remember that ever since WWII the customary motivation for violations of the Convention on Genocide has been to gain a region’s natural resources. For example Iraq, Libya, Syria, Haiti, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Guatemala, and others.

The people of resource-rich areas are forced into flight, exile, refuge elsewhere, or are attacked by disease, or starvation, or directly murdered by military programs, or divided internally into civil wars assuring the death of multitudes.

Damages are inter-generational with the effects of depleted uranium weaponry or mining waste; the survivors of one generation lose their children in the next. The effect of destroying a habitat is the destruction of a people with legal historical claim to the land and its natural resources.

If these people are eradicated, resource development proceeds without impediment or any benefit or payment to the rightful owners. Night’s Lantern places an implicit warning for peoples inhabiting or able to make legal claim to resource-rich territory. Venezuela possesses about a quarter of the earth’s oil resources. The corporate battle for profits is understood to be criminal. The U.S. has made a point of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court and attempting to destroy international law. Since there is strong evidence that Venezuela is threatened with a takeover by corporate interests, represented by U.S. policy, the people of Venezuela are now under a genocide warning.

A summary of the current coup attempt: on January 23rd, Juan Guaidó, leader of the right wing National Assembly declared himself the President of Venezuela. During the presidency ofHugo Chavez, and despite the failure of the first U.S. attempted coup against him, and then after the curious death of Chavez, and after the presidency was assumed by Chavez’s and the people’s chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, the U.S. has continually and heavily funded the country’s political opposition. Guaidó’s counter-democratic declaration was endorsed immediately by Brazil, the U.S. and Canada in an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government. Juan Guaidó’s platform if allowed to rule, would include returning nationalized companies to their previous owners.

The U.S. Vice president’s call-out to the Venezuelan people to rise up and embrace Guaidó as their President, failed. Of the Americas, governments installed by the U.S. have supported the U.S. position. Countries of the Americas controlled by right wing middle classes at the service of corporate policies and wealth, also support the U.S. position.

Western media explain ‘a need for change’ rising from the country’s ‘humanitarian crisis,’ which on examination is an economic crisis rising from very low prices of oil – and then the debilitating U.S.-initiated sanctions to sideline Venezuela’s attempts at economic recovery. As the largest holder of oil resources in the world Venezuela’s political and economic difficulties are consistently traced to foreign corporate interests.

The European Union has demanded new elections in an attempt to discredit President Maduro’s victory at the polls last May and his re-installation as President on January 10th. Cuba has shifted 2500 of its health providers from its mission to the poor in what has become fascist Brazil, to Venezuela. Venezuela’s alliances with Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Mexico, among others, remain. Within Venezuela, the government and its supporters including all branches of the military have remained loyal to the country’s Constitution and Nicolás Maduro as the elected President. The U.S.-Brazil-Canada axis attempt to effect its choice of rulers for another country has risked tripping these as aggressors and Venezuela, into war. As noted at the mourning for Hugo Chavez whose illness many believe was the result of an assassination, “Chávez vive, la lucha sigue!”.

Posted in Venezuela0 Comments

Venezuela: U.S Economic Warfare


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

“Economic Warfare” against Venezuela. Illegal US Sanctions Causing Economic and Humanitarian Crisis according to Former UN Rapporteur

A former United Nations rapporteur has criticised the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he claimed was the real reason for the economic and humanitarian crisis facing the country.

Alfred de Zayas, who last year became the first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years, also suggested in his recently published UN report, that US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Mr De Zayas, an American lawyer, writer, historian and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), presented his Venezuela report to the HRC in September.

In the report, which can be read in full here, Mr De Zayas recommended, among other actions, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

In the report conclusions Mr De Zayas, who is an expert in the fields of human rights and international law, went on to say the solution to the Venezuelan crisis lay “in good faith negotiations between the Government and the opposition, an end to the economic war, and the lifting of sanctions.”

The US imposed sanctions against Venezuela began in 2015 under President Barack Obama and have intensified under Donald Trump.

US sanctions against Venezuela prohibit dealing in currencies and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by the state-run oil body, PDVSA or the government.

The US Department of State’s sanctions and justifications can be read here

In his report Mr De Zayas said 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.”


Since 2015 around 1.9m people have fled the country and inflation has reached 60,324%.

Speaking to The Independent yesterday Mr de Zayas also suggested his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored.


“When I come and I say the emigration is partly attributable to the economic war waged against Venezuela and is partly attributable to the sanctions, people don’t like to hear that. They just want the simple narrative that socialism failed and it failed the Venezuelan people,” Mr de Zayas told The Independent.

Mr de Zayas went on to suggest that sanctions are part of a US effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government and instal a friendlier regime.

“I’ve seen that happen in the Human Rights Council, how the United States twists arms and convinces countries to vote the way they want them to vote, or there will be economic consequences, and these things are not reflected in the press,” he told The Independent.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and other abundant natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan.


“If you crush this government and you bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations,” the former UN special rapporteur told The Independent.


“The business of the United States is business. And that’s what the United States is interested in. And they can’t [currently] do business with Venezuela.”

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”.

Amnesty, for example, have said the Maduro government is responsible for “the worst human rights crisis in the country’s history,”

“There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état and nothing more corrosive to the rule of law and to international stability when foreign governments meddle in the internal affairs of other states,” he told The Independent.

“Only the Venezuelans have a right to decide, not the United States, not the United Kingdom … What is urgent is to help the Venezuelan people through international solidarity – genuine humanitarian aid and a lifting of the financial blockade so that Venezuela can buy and sell like any other country in the world – the problems can be solved with good faith and common sense.”

Mr De Zayas is one of 70 signatories of an open letter, along with with Noam Chomsky and over 70 other academics and experts, who have condemned what they described as a US-backed coup attempt against the Venezuelan government.

Posted in USA, Venezuela0 Comments

John Bolton Admits US-backed Coup in Venezuela Is About Oil, Not Democracy


U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said that their coup in Venezuela is about exploiting the country’s oil and natural resources.

Smashing the claims of “protecting democracy” in Venezuela, the United States National Security Advisor John Bolton said in an interview that they are backing the illegal coup in the South American country because of oil.

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton told Fox News in an interview this week.

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter,

“Confession … @ AmbJohnBolton confirms that the COUP is about OIL.”

Jorge Arreaza M


Confesión de parte: @AmbJohnBolton confirma que el GOLPE es PETROLERO. Desde el segundo 48: “HARÁ UNA GRAN DIFERENCIA PARA LOS EEUU ECONÓMICAMENTE si podemos tener empresas petroleras estadounidenses invirtiendo de verdad y produciendo las capacidades petroleras en Venezuela”

The Grayzone@GrayzoneProject
Replying to @GrayzoneProject

Trump’s neocon Nat Sec Adviser Bolton: “We’re in conversation with major American companies now…
It will make a big difference to the US economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” 

Embedded video

3,526 people are talking about this

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in an interview Wednesday that the U.S. just wants to seize Venezuela’s oil and mineral resources and that is the reason behind backing the coup and intervention in the Latin American country.

“The reason is seizing the oil of Venezuela, because we have the largest oil reserves, we confirm that we have the largest reserves of gold in the world, we have the world’s fourth-largest gas (reserves), have large reserves of coltan, diamonds, aluminum, iron, we have drinking water reserves throughout the national territory, we have energy and natural resources,” said the Venezuelan president.

The U.S. has backed the coup by Juan Guaido, who on Jan. 23 illegally declared himself the “interim president” of Venezuela.

U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the self-proclaimed president. The same was done by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, who has instigated attacks against Maduro and his government.

Maduro and the Venezuelan people are resisting this coup attempt by the interventionist North American country.

The new U.S. measures against Venezuela include the freezing of some US$7 billion in assets of the Venezuelan state oil company (PDVSA), in addition to an estimated loss of US$11 billion of exports over the next few years.

The sanctions are applied to the Venezuelan government; to any political organizations; state agencies, including the Bank of Venezuela and PDVSA; as well as to any person acting in the interest of the “government of Nicolas Maduro.”

Denouncing the U.S. interventionism, Maduro said that Venezuela is a sovereign country and not part of a U.S. backyard.

“They (the United States) consider us their backyard. And we say that we are not anyone’s backyard, we are an independent republic,” Maduro asserted.


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Russia Might be Planning an Astana-Like Conference for Venezuela


Russia just dropped a huge hint suggesting that it might be trying to assemble an Astana-like conference for resolving the Venezuelan Crisis in the same spirit as what it’s been trying to do with Syria over the past two years, which could present the most peaceful solution available even if this initiative ultimately results in “painful compromises” by the government if it succeeds.

Another Astana?

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov revealed earlier today that his country is in talks with other states and international organizations over the role that every concerned party could play in “mediating” the Venezuelan Crisis. He said that

“There is the EU’s initiative to set up a contact group. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also put forward some initiatives, there is also some ideas that Uruguay and Mexico have come up with…We truly wish to help create conditions for dialogue between the government and the opposition. We are discussing it with our Venezuelan partners, China, Latin American and European countries. We are also ready to participate in international efforts on platforms that would be acceptable for the Venezuelan parties.”

Although it can’t be known for certain at this point, all indications suggest that Russia might be ready to “pull a Syria” by assembling an Astana-like conference for resolving the Venezuelan Crisis.

Follow The Money

Russia is a firm proponent of international law and adamantly opposed to the US’ regime change plots anywhere across the world, but it has more than just altruistic motives of principle for wanting to ensure that the Venezuelan Crisis is peacefully resolved as soon as possible. The country invested $11 billionin the Bolivarian Republic over the years through various loans and energy, mineral, military, and infrastructure deals and just recently agreed to commit another $6 billion in early December. The very real prospect of potentially losing some or all of these assets following the possible seizure of power by US-backed Color Revolution forces in Venezuela terrifies Russia because it would result in a hefty financial hit its interests, though China would be even more adversely affected because of the whopping $50 billion that it loaned Caracas up until this point. Accordingly, it makes sense for both Eurasian Great Powers to pool their resources in trying to de-escalate this crisis as soon as possible.

Self-declared wannabe “president” Juan Guaido understands the impressive leverage that his US-backed Color Revolution forces have over those two countries after hinting that Maduro isn’t “protecting their investments” from what can only be interpreted as the veiled threat that this Hybrid Warriors pose to their physical assets. Catching the drift, Russia and China might be compelled to “convince” Maduro to “compromise” with the “opposition” out of fear that their investments might be targeted by Guaido’s supporters during any forthcoming escalation of unrest in the country, with the Western Mainstream Media gleefully waiting to “report” that “the people are also rebelling against the regime’s backers” as they blow up pipelines, demolish mines, and attack the other property of those countries’ companies. Under this very realistic scenario, Russia and China would be powerless to protect their assets, and their on-the-ground partners in the Venezuelan Armed Forces charged with ensuring their security might have their hands full responding to more pressing regime change threats.

On The Road To “Compromises”

Faced with the horrifying prospect of losing so many billions of dollars, Russia and China are incentivized to help Maduro and Guaido reach a “compromise solution” to the crisis, something that Moscow implied is its intention after Lavrov said after his above-cited comments in the same statement that “We are confident that creating conditions for the Venezuelan parties to make an agreement is the only possible goal.” This powerfully lends a degree of “legitimacy” to Guaido by implicitly recognizing the need for him and the authorities (“the Venezuelan parties”) to “make an agreement”, the outcome of which shouldn’t be “predetermined” in advance according to Lavrov in a subsequent remark but which could be predicted by context to refer to either a power-sharing arrangement or early elections despite Maduro ruling out the latter. Either way, it looks like the only option for Russia and China to avoid any harm to their assets in Venezuela is to get Maduro to “compromise” in one way or another and as soon as possible.

Arguments For And Against America’s Support For Another Astana

This urgent motivation is probably what’s behind Russia’s efforts to streamline an Astana-like conference on Venezuela, though this peacemaking initiative could fall flat if neither the “opposition” nor its foreign backers agree to it. The US controls the so-called “Lima Group” and is ultimately the final decision maker on whether Russia’s effort will have a chance at succeeding or not. On the one hand, it might remain opposed to this because it either intends to throw Venezuela into civil war and/or wants to seize its rivals’ assets once its proxies come to power or have them destroy Russian and Chinese properly during the chaos. On the other hand, however, the US might be willing to “give peace a chance” if it thinks that it can use the “goodwill” that it might engender from both of its Eurasian Great Power rivals to get them to geopolitically and/or economically “compromise” on something else, as well as if it fears that oil prices might surge for a while to Moscow’s benefit.

At the end of the day, it’s “more convenient” for the US’ proxies to “legitimately” take power in a “peaceful” way (even if it takes time through a Russian-brokered “phased leadership transition”) than in a controversial one such as a coup or after a prolonged civil war because it’ll allow American companies to most immediately profit from their government’s foreign policy “success” in its “backyard”. If Venezuela becomes the “next Syria”, it’ll take a lot of time and investment before the US “reaps the rewards”, which is why it might be willing to “allow” Russia and China to save some (but likely not all) of their investments on the condition that they “convince” Maduro to begin the process of transferring power to Guaido under whatever pretext they can come up with so that “everyone looks like they won” (ex: “this was the only way to keep the peace and prevent another Syrian scenario”).

“Sell-Out” Or Strategic?

While some might frame the possibly forthcoming move to organize an Astana-like conference on Venezuela as a “sell-out”, it’s actually the only realistic and pragmatic option available to Russia under these very difficult circumstances. Moscow can’t stage a Syrian-like military intervention to support Caracas like it did Damascus 3,5 years ago even though it could commence a “humanitarian intervention” by dispatching food and other much-needed supplies to the country out of “Christian solidarity” (which might win it some points with regional right-wing forces). Just like Russia realized that the “success” of “Israel’s” “Yinon Plan” in Syria is “inevitable” to a certain degree and is therefore trying to “responsibly guide” this process as much as possible in the direction of its national interests, so too is it contemplating doing the same in the Balkans as well, so applying this approach to Venezuela would actually be following its latest trend instead of bucking it.

It should always be remembered that Russia has no ideological solidarity with Venezuela’s socialist experiment like the USSR might have had if it still existed but is partnered with the South American state out of purely pragmatic reasons having to do with helping the Bolivarian Republic diversify its erstwhile strategic dependence on the US per former President Chavez’s multipolar vision.

No one should be under any illusions of imagining that this is being done pro bono like the USSR would have done, since all of Russia’s investments (and especially loans) in the country are firstly made with financial motives in mind and only afterwards take on possible geostrategic dimensions. The same logic holds for China as well, which isn’t a criticism of either but just a reflection of objective fact. Therefore, both Eurasian Great Powers have more than enough reasons to do whatever needs to diplomatically be done to safeguard their tens of billions of dollars’ worth of investments.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia’s 21st-century grand strategic vision of becoming the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia can realistically be replicated in Latin America if it succeeds in bringing together a diverse set of countries to facilitate a “political solution” to the Venezuelan Crisis, one which would secure (at least some of) it and its Chinese partner’s enormous investments in the Bolivarian Republic while simultaneously raising its regional prestige. Such an Astana-like conference could symbolically be held in the Bolivian capital of La Paz (which means “the peace”) or in one of the small Caribbean island nations allied with Caracas through its Petrocaribe oil subsidization program, and could be complemented by a Russian-led “humanitarian intervention” that delivers much-needed food and supplies to Venezuela’s destitute population. If another Astana does indeed take place and results in Maduro “compromising”, then it wouldn’t be a “sell-out” but a strategic defense of Russian state interests that made the best out of a bad situation and prevented the Syrian scenario from repeating itself in South America.

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Hands Off Venezuela

Hands Off Venezuela: Divided UN Security Council: Fierce Opposition to Violation of Venezuela’s Sovereignty
Emergency UN Security Council Meeting, January 26, 2019

This morning Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza presented a brilliant defense of President Maduro’s government, against the attempted coup d’etat engineered by the United States and its proxies in Europe and newly right-wing Latin American countries Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.  The United States called this “emergency” meeting, seeking the authorization of the United Nations Security Council for intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs, and the infamous regime change similar to that which  spread chaos in Libya after the UN Security Council authorized military intervention to overthrow the government of  Muammar Gadaffi (2011 No Fly Zone)

South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, the Russian Federation, China, Caricom, Bolivia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba were among the countries which opposed what has now become transparent violation of international law, and the usurpation of the independence of the United Nations to conceal geopolitical engineering, otherwise known as capitalist imperialism.

US Secretary of State Michael K. Pompeo denounced Russia and China for opposing a Presidential Statement condemning Maduro’s government, and Pompeo singled out Cuba as the arch-villain propping up the government of Maduro, which could be understood as a backhanded compliment to Cuba’s power.  In fact, Cuba has helped build the medical and educational system of Venezuela from the earliest days of the late Hugo Chavez’s Presidency.

Venezuela’s Arreaza began citing an almost endless list of  U.S. military interventions and invasions of sovereign Latin American countries,  and the reimposition of the Monroe Doctrine, recalling the 1912 US marine invasion of Mexico, the destabilization and overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan President Arbenz, Brazil’s Goulart, Chile’s Allende, and the replacement of these democratically elected governments with fascist dictatorships whose human rights violations and barbarity rivaled some of the worst savagery of nazi Germany.  The Venezuelan Foreign Minister denounced the coercive blockade denying the Venezuelan people  many billions of dollars, in addition to the 1.2 billion dollars frozen in Belgium, and other US European proxies etc. etc., which has led to the widespread hunger and collapse in the living standards of the Venezuelan people, many of whom are migrating to other countries.

When France and Germany called for regime change in Venezuela, citing massive demonstration against Maduro as undercutting his legitimacy, in an almost comic rebuttal to France, Russian Ambassador Nebenzia mentioned the massive demonstrations of the “Yellow Jackets” opposing French President Macron’s policies, and the question was raised regarding the possibility of demand for regime change in France. Ambassador Nebenzia quickly reassured the French delegation that he did not intend to call a Security Council meeting for that purpose, but his point was well taken, and had its effect.

Perhaps most incriminating among the charges of imperial designs against Venezuela’s sovereignty was Arreaza’s statement that last year President Maduro had invited the UN Secretary-General, and European High Commissioner Federica Mogherini to monitor the forthcoming Presidential elections in Venezuela, to determine  their legitimacy or otherwise.  In a breathtaking disclosure, Arreaza revealed that both the UN Secretary-General and the EU’s Federica Mogherini refused to be present to monitor the Venezuelan Presidential elections, stating many months prior to the elections that the election outcome would be a fraud.

This indicated collusion, and a deliberate premeditated intent to discredit the outcome of the Venezuelan elections, whether or not they were in fact legitimate; and this collusion in demonizing Venezuela’s election is an indictment of gross prejudice and corruption within the very organizations charged with impartially evaluating the quality of those elections.

Russian Ambassador Nebenzia stated that Germany’s attempt to invoke “preventive diplomacy,” as an excuse for intervening in Venezuela’s internal affairs was, in fact, a deliberate incitement to civil war in Venezuela, and had nothing to do with prevention.

It is difficult to know what will ensue, but the stark division within the Security Council, and additional fierce opposition to Security Council or unilateral intervention voiced by neighboring countries in the region near Venezuela, indicates that the threat of U.S. military intervention will have difficulty influencing the outcome of events, especially since Russia has warned the U.S.:  “Hands Off Venezuela”!!!

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CNN Goes ‘Undercover’ to Manufacture Consent for Coup Attempt in Venezuela

A CNN “exclusive” report from inside Venezuela aired multiple times on the network on January 28. It is a prime example of how influential media outlets in the U.S. effectively create propaganda for the opposition, which now is receiving funds from President Donald Trump’s administration.

For the four-minute report, CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walshwent “undercover” amidst what the network described as the “deepening crisis in Venezuela” in order “to capture the desperation gripping the nation.”

The segment highlighted hyperinflation at grocery chains, Venezuelans lined up in queues for fuel and food, particularly in Caracas, and opposition demonstrations on January 23, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president of the country.

“This was the day when change was meant to come,” Walsh stated.

It suggested President Nicolas Maduros government has given “handouts” to Venezuelans for years to buy their loyalty, but now “handouts” are no longer enough. Opponents like to equate social programs to “handouts” because corporate elites favor de-nationalization and privatization of services.

Walsh interviewed a rank-and-file officer in the Venezuela military and granted him anonymity. The officer stated,

“I would say 80 percent of soldiers are against the government. Some even go to demonstrations. But the big fishes, the senior officers, are the ones eating, getting rich while the bottom we have it hard.”

Video showed the opposition throwing stones at a military airfield in a standoff that apparently has lasted “for months.” One part of the barricade was on fire.

Sitting with his back against what appeared to be a concrete barricade, like he was part of the opposition hurling objects, Walsh declared,

“They may be throwing stones here, but what they really need is the army to switch sides.”

Walsh offered no comment on what it would mean for democracy in Venezuela if the military played an instrumental role in helping Guaido and a U.S.-led group of countries oust Maduro.

Another part of the report featured street children in Caracas. A 14 year-old boy recounted how his brother was killed in July by a member of a gang. He said he has to go through the garbage for food and beg so he does not go hungry.

Walsh did not show a cause-and-effect relationship, yet the boy’s poverty was wryly attributed to a “socialist utopia that now leaves nearly every stomach empty.”

On the surface, the report may have seemed balanced and neutral because CNN spoke to citizens caught in the middle of the political crisis. Yet, there was no clips of the tens of thousands of Maduro supporters who marched through Caracas the same day that Guaido claimed he was the country’s interim president.

CNN also omitted the role of U.S. sanctions and other measures in making Venezuela’s economic recovery nearly impossible.

According to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), sanctions did not create hyperinflation in the country. However, they have made it incredibly difficult for the government to restructure their debt for a recovery.

In 2017, weeks before the Trump administration imposed new sanctions, a former top State Department official predicted they would cause the government to “default on their bonds and a collapse of internal investment and oil production.” They would spur “civil unrest, refugee flows across their borders, and a cutoff of Venezuelan financial support to Cuba and Haiti that could lead to migration flows to the United States.” (Note: It was estimated in June 2018 that about 35,000 refugees were crossing from Venezuela to Colombia each day.)

The same day that CNN aired their report the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the country’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). The company is a “primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency,” including U.S. dollars and Euros, according to the Department.

National security adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $7 billion in assets and result in the loss of $11 billion in proceeds from exports over the next year.

Even after the Trump administration announced oil sanctions, CNN still largely ignored the potential effect of sanctions when it aired this “undercover” report another time.

Oil sanctions are likely to intensify the suffering for Venezuelans, not make their lives better. In the 1990s, Iraq faced sanctions from the United Nations on their oil exports as well as restrictions on other foreign trade. To many, it was “one of the decade’s great crimes” because the sanctions contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

In Iran, the poor bear the brunt of sanctions on oil that were re-imposed by the Trump administration. Financial Times reported in October on millions of Iranians, who were already stretched as “the value of the rial” had “plunged more than 70 per cent against the US dollar over the past year.”

“The sharp drop has pushed up import costs and stoked inflation, eroding purchasing power and leaving the most impoverished struggling to pay for basic goods such as meat, dairy products, and fruit,” FT noted.

As journalist Gregory Shupak previously highlighted for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR),

“When Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in November 2017 proposed a meeting with creditors to discuss a restructuring of the country’s public debt, the Trump administration warned U.S. bondholders that attending this meeting could put them in violation of U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela, which can be punished with 30 years in jail and as much as $10 million dollars in fines for businesses.”

“That same month, the U.S. government added further sanctions that prevent Venezuela from doing what governments routinely do with much of their debt, which is ‘roll it over’ by borrowing again when a bond matures. The sanctions also made it difficult if not impossible for Venezuela to undertake debt restructuring, a process wherein interest and principal payments are postponed and creditors receive new bonds, which the sanctions explicitly prohibit.”

Additionally, Francisco Rodriguez noted for Foreign Policy in 2018,

“Ninety-five percent of Venezuela’s export revenue comes from oil sold by the state-owned oil company. Cutting off the government’s access to dollars will leave the economy without the hard currency needed to pay for imports of food and medicine. Starving the Venezuelan economy of its foreign currency earnings risks turning the country’s current humanitarian crisis into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is not the first time that the opposition in Venezuela has destroyed the economy to help it win power. Back in 2002, the same year that President Hugo Chavez faced a coup backed by the U.S. government, his opponents “called for a massive strike in the country’s oil sector.”

“The strike brought oil production to a standstill and caused a double-digit recession in an attempt to get Chavez to resign,” Rodriguez recalled. “This event single-handedly convinced Venezuelans that they could not trust a political movement that was willing to destroy the economy in order to attain power. In a recall referendum held two years later, voters resoundingly backed Chavez.”

None of this history seems to matter to CNN anchors, who subscribe to the Washington bipartisan foreign policy consensus on Venezuela. Nor do they mention that it is not only Maduro’s security forces that commit violence. The opposition was involved in lynchings, burning people alive, and erecting barricades that cause deadly accidents in 2017. Some opposition leaders, including exiles like Lorent Saleh, have ties to neo-fascists.

When CNN anchor Jim Sciutto introduced the report, he mentioned Guaido had again urged the people of Venezuela to “hit the streets to demand new elections” in an effort to oust Maduro. It is easy to see how playing the report after this statement might help gin up sympathy for Guaido’s calls to action.

But apparently there is reason to believe the opposition may have the support of leaders from several Latin American and Western countries but still be struggling to win over the people.

Walsh noted the country is not seeing daily mass street protests. Guaido’s message may be resonating with some of the middle class, but it is not a message that inspires those in the slums, who have their own “poverty-based fight.”

In other words, it is likely that lower classes in Venezuela remain skeptical of the opposition because they fear it will mean inviting outside corporate interests to raid government assets and natural resources so they may enrich themselves. This would potentially lead to cuts or an end to social welfare programs that they utilize to help them survive.

This skepticism toward the opposition among Venezuelans is not something CNN wants to feature in its limited coverage of the attempted coup. But it should be viewed as a key reason to doubt the consensus around support for the opposition, which news networks are working to manufacture.

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An Invasion of Venezuela Isn’t A “Far-Fetched Scenario”


While Guaido and his self-declared “government”(-in-waiting) are downplaying the prospects of a military invasion to topple Maduro, the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia.

The Last Chance For Peace

Both supporters and detractors of the Venezuelan government seem to be of the mind that the country’s crisis is rapidly approaching a climax, with the specter of a military invasion looming large on the horizon. Each camp, and especially Guadio’s self-declared “government”(-in-waiting), has downplayed this possibility, but the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia. This isn’t to say that an attack is imminent since there’s a chance that next week’s “Lima Group” meeting and the planned multilateral “mediation” summit in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo might yield some positive dividends, especially if Russia and China somehow get involved and turn the latter format into an Astana-like conference, but no one should discount the prospects of a military invasion being launched if neither of those functions results in Maduro quickly “compromising” on his principled position.

From Syria To Ukraine And Now Venezuela 

The danger of something of the sort happening is real enough after US National Security Advisor John Bolton was caught on camera with a notepad where he scribbled “5,000 troops to Colombia” in what was probably a “self-leak” to telegraph the US’ intentions and put additional pressure on Venezuela. Furthermore, this coincided with Colombian-based military defectors begging the US to arm them so they can overthrow their government. From the looks of it, the same “Lead From Behind” HybridWarscenario as what happened earlier this decade in Syria and Ukraine appears to be on the brink of repeating itself in Venezuela whereby the US’ most trusted regional allies (Turkey, Poland, and Colombia) are charged with being the vanguard proxy force for assisting a regime change operation in the neighboring country whose government the US wants to overthrow.

Continuing with the comparisons, each of the targeted country’s adjacent regions to the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy state share certain strategic similarities vis-à-vis facilitating the Hybrid War against it. Northern Syria contains the country’s largest city of Aleppo and is historically a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood sentiment, Western Ukraine is popularly known as the country’s nationalist nest, and the economically significant state of Zulia has traditionally been an opposition stronghold. Seeing as how this analysis is first and foremost about the prospects of a military invasion of Venezuela, the relevance of the third-mentioned region deserves to be elaborated upon in order to better understand its importance in this context and how it compares to the two aforementioned regions in the other previously victimized states.

Zulia: Venezuela’s Achilles’ Heel

Reuters reported last summer that Zulia, Venezuela’s most populous state where nearly 1/5 of the population resides, accounts for approximately 35% of the country’s meat and dairy production as well as around 25% of its oil exports.

Being the Bolivarian Republic’s historic source of oil, some demagogic voices have previously called for autonomy in order to retain as much of their region’s energy revenue as possible, though this initiative has thus far been unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in times of serious economic and political uncertainty such as the present, it could become an attractive rallying cry of the opposition.

It’s with this strategic backdrop in mind why Zulia might be targeted by US-backed and Colombian-based Venezuelan military defectors if diplomatic means fail to get Maduro to “compromise”. Just like the “Free Syrian Army” did in Northern Syria with US & Turkish assistance and “EuroMaidan’s” supporters accomplished in Western Ukraine with US & Polish backing prior to the coup’s success, so too could anti-government fighters try to take control of Zulia with US & Colombian support in trying to carve that part of the country away from the central government’s authority. The possible success of this scenario could cripple the rest of Venezuela by immediately depriving it of hefty food, energy, and ultimately financial resources that could bring about the state’s rapid collapse soon thereafter.

Catalyzing The Final Collapse

This isn’t just “senseless fearmongering” either because the removal of 35% of Venezuela’s meat and dairy products from the rest of the country’s shelves and the loss of a further 25% of its oil-exporting-dependent state revenue (which would compound with the effects of the US’ recently imposed sanctions that cut the country off from its top oil consumer who previously purchased 41% of its exports) would be catastrophic and likely catalyze the large-scale exodus of pro-government internally displaced people eastwards towards Caracas where they’d inadvertently function as “Weapons of Mass Migration” in the capital. Faced with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the government would face the realistic prospect of either collapse or a military coup, the latter of which might be partially financed by some of the $7 billion of PDVSA assets that Guaido obtained access to earlier this week.

Considering that the US officially recognizes Guaido and his allies as representing the “legitimate” government of Venezuela, Washington might use the occupation of Zulia as the pretext to directly intervene and protect any energy assets that the Hybrid Warriors sign over to its control like Bolton hinted that he’d like to see happen if the rolling regime change operation succeeds. The US could then use Zulia (possibly described as “Free Venezuela” by that time by the Western Mainstream Media) as its base of operations for putting the finishing touches on its envisioned “government-in-waiting” for the country, recognizing that it would only be a “waiting game” after that point as it sees how long it’ll take for the rest of the country to either collapse or be taken over by a pro-US military coup as it descends further into dystopic chaos.

Concluding Thoughts

The US would ideally prefer for Maduro to peacefully step down as a result of a “compromise” political solution brought about by the forthcoming diplomatic initiatives set to be launched next week because that would be the easiest way for its companies to reap the most immediate and maximum profit from their country’s geopolitical “prize” if they simply assume ownership over its energy and mineral assets soon thereafter. Should that approach fail, however, then the back-up plan might be for the Bolivarian Republic’s “Achilles’ heel” of Zulia to be invaded by US-backed “moderate rebels” that would enter the state from Colombia following the “Lead From Behind” Hybrid War template trailblazed in Syria and Ukraine. The possible success of this “limited intervention” could serve as the pretext for a direct conventional one by the US itself, as well as catalyze the collapse of the rest of the country in bringing a quick end to this long-running regime change campaign.

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US Sanctions as a Tool to Perpetuate Neocolonialism


It’s an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called “special interest” groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh’s government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in “collective bargaining” activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don’t have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro’s Cuba, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro’s Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media’s pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petro-dollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling “third party” economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petro-dollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran’s nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those “third party” sanctions on Iran’s economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf’s petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves each and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world’s 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf’s petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf’s petro-monarchies had “sanctioned” the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf’s crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which is more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which is more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

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Venezuela: Zionist Sanctions Are Backfiring

Treasury Sanctions Venezuela’s State-Owned Oil Company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.
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Action Intensifies Pressure on Maduro and Regime Insiders, Demonstrates U.S. Commitment to Leverage Economic Pressure to Support the Venezuelan People’s Transition to Democracy

Washington – Today the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850 for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.  PdVSA is a Venezuelan state-owned oil company and a primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency, to include U.S. dollars and Euros.

“The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Today’s designation of PdVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela.  The path to sanctions relief for PdVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the Interim President or a subsequent, democratically elected government.”

As with previous OFAC designations of certain Venezuelan officials and their supporters, U.S. sanctions need not be permanent.  Sanctions are intended to change behavior.  The United States has made it clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for those who take concrete, meaningful, and verifiable actions to support democratic order and combat corruption in Venezuela, including PdVSA.

As Venezuela’s state owned oil company, PdVSA has long been a vehicle for corruption.  A variety of schemes have been designed to embezzle billions of dollars from PdVSA for the personal gain of corrupt Venezuelan officials and businessmen.  For example, a 2014 currency exchange scheme was designed to embezzle and launder around $600 million from PdVSA, money obtained through bribery and fraud.  By May 2015, the conspiracy had allegedly doubled in amount, to $1.2 billion embezzled from PdVSA.  Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a Venezuelan national who was PdVSA’s executive director of financial planning, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in the billion-dollar international scheme to launder funds embezzled from PdVSA.  In a separate case, U.S. prosecutors have alleged that, from 2011 to 2013, senior Government of Venezuela and PdVSA officials, including Nervis Villalobos, the former Venezuelan vice minister of energy; Rafael Reiter, who worked as PdVSA’s head of security and loss prevention; and Luis Carlos de Leon, a former official at a state-run electric company, sought bribes and kickbacks from vendors in exchange for helping them secure PdVSA contracts and gain priority over other vendors for outstanding invoices during its liquidity crisis.

Today’s action designating PdVSA follows a determination by Secretary Mnuchin pursuant to E.O. 13850 that persons operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy may be subject to sanctions.

Concurrent with this action, OFAC is issuing general licenses that authorize certain transactions and activities related to PdVSA and its subsidiaries within specified timeframes.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of PdVSA subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

For additional information about the methods that Venezuelan senior political figures, their associates, and front persons use to move and hide corrupt proceeds, including how they try to exploit the U.S. financial system and real estate market, please refer to FinCEN’s advisories FIN-2017-A006, “Advisory on Widespread Public Corruption in Venezuela,” and FIN-2017-A003, “Advisory to Financial Institutions and Real Estate Firms and Professionals.”

Identifying information and General Licenses relating to today’s announcement.

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