Friday, April 3, 2020

Venezuela Update # 14

International calls for easing sanctions

U.N. Calls for Rolling Back Sanctions to Battle Pandemic
Secretary-General Guterres says it’s time for “solidarity not exclusion.”

BY COLUM LYNCH | MARCH 24, 2020, 2:02 PM

United Nations leadership called for rolling back international sanctions regimes around the world, saying they are heightening the health risks for millions of people and weakening the global effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The appeal reflects mounting concerns that sanctions regimes may be impeding efforts in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe to battle the coronavirus, and enhancing the prospects of the pathogen’s spread to other countries. It comes as China and Russia, which is subject to U.S. and European sanctions for its invasion of Crimea, have also stepped up calls for an easing of sanctions.

“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a letter to the G-20 economic powers. “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”

Pope Criticizes Sanctions

This is the first time the Pontiff has spoken out against the measures
On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke out against international sanctions during his Urbi et Orbi Easter address from Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“This is not a time for forgetfulness (…) for division (…) or for indifference,” he reminded Catholics worldwide.
“In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,” the Pontiff continued, adding that he wishes to see “concrete and immediate solutions to be reached that can permit international assistance to a [Venezuelan] population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation.”

Creating a Climate for Greater Conflict

The April 1 press conference at the White House was disturbing.

The first part of it focused on a military mobilization to stop cartels from using the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to send massive amounts of drugs to the US.

I wondered whether President Trump was attempting to use Covid-19 as cover for a Noriega style invasion of Venezuela.  Or whether the Administration believes that a war would divert attention from the frightful domestic death toll of the virus.

The announced military mobilization is an odd response to purported cartel escalation (as though they aren't equally preoccupied and weakened by illness).

Part of the build up is the questionable well publicized indictment on drug charges of President Maduro et al and the phony political compromise Pompeo announced a couple of days earlier.  It was advertised as an inducement for the military to finally turn against Maduro, but the proposed interim government would be a completely one-sided creation by the opposition.

It appears Pompeo and Abrams (and Claver-Carone?) are making the same mistake they have from the beginning, thinking that the Venezuelan military will accept a US sponsored regime.

If they pursue this course militarily, we will tragically discover that Venezuela is not Panama.

When I circulated a version of the above,  two friends who know Washington and the security apparatus better than I responded to my analysis in this way:

1)  "I think you’re right, except the idea of a boots-on-the-ground invasion.  With COVID, no one’s going to enter that country.  But some kind of stand-off military action is not beyond the pale for these people.  The Trump people have tried, and failed, to effect three coups so far.  Maybe number four will be the charm.  With SouthCom sending ships down there, interference in oil shipments may be in the cards.
The indictment was, as you say, a complete fake."

2)  "Just a repackaging of old one-sided ideas that are almost certain to fail as they have so far.  I see virtually no chance these days of a US military invasion.  I think it would backfire badly.  However, these people are capable of almost anything, and they are clearly grasping for a way to turn a failed policy into something positive."


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