The U.S. Is Using Sanctions To Extort Venezuelan Officials Into Participating In Overthrowing Maduro
On February 15th, the U.S. issued sanctions against dozens of Venezuelan officials ranging from PDVSA Chief Manuel Quevedo to Rafael Bastardo who is the head of a National Police Unit and three top intelligence officials. The United States accuses these men and dozens of others of violating human rights, yet in the same press conference in which these sanctions were announced the U.S. Treasury Department stated that these sanctions could be lifted for “persons who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order.”
The United States is making its motives in Venezuela very clear and using the “restore democratic order” line as a sham to overthrow a democratically elected president. If Rafael Bastardo has violated human rights and deserves the sanctions imposed on him then why did the U.S. state that the sanctions would be lifted if he went along with the coup? This statement proves that the United States is sanctioning government officials in Venezuela for political reasons in order to build opposition to Maduro and not to “restore democratic order” to Venezuela.
Sanctions kill innocent people, and they are an act of war. This has been proven over and over again from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Venezuela where ever the U.S. issues sanctions innocent people die whether it be from malnutrition or sanction-induced violence. Economic warfare is catastrophically downplayed as a more humane option then bullets and tanks, but sanctions aren’t any less devastating than an invasion.
PDVSA Chief Manuel Quevedo tweeted out a statement in Spanish in which he clearly states what anti-establishment independent media voices have been screaming about for weeks, that the United States is facilitating a coup and a big part of that is taking control of Citgo which is a subsidiary of PDVSA. John Bolton admitted in an interview recently on Fox News that:
It would 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. It will be beneficial to the people of Venezuela, it will be beneficial to the people of the United States. We both have a lot at stake here making this come out the right way.
Mark Weisbrot, who is a member of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and an expert on Venezuela, made a startling statement back in 2017.
At the end of August, the Trump administration imposed harsh sanctions on Venezuela that prevent the country from borrowing or selling assets in the US financial system. The new embargo exacerbated shortages of food, medicine, and other essential goods, while severely limiting the policy options available to pull the country out of a deep depression.
National Security Advisor John Bolton estimated that the sanctions issued against PDVSA and Citgo would affect some $7 billion in assets and would block $11 billion in revenue from reaching the Venezuelan government. It’s illogical to stand behind podiums and tell the world that the Venezuelan people are starving and then announce sanctions against the Venezuelan government preventing $18 billion dollars from reaching the very people the United States claims are starving.
Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota stoically traded words with Elliot Abrams who Trump chose to lead the envoy in Venezuela. Ms. Omar challenged Mr. Abrams about his previous actions in South America in which Mr. Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran Contra Affair in the ’80s that led to genocide. Ilhan Omar stated to Elliot Abrams,
Mr. Abrams in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran Contra Affair for which you were later pardoned by President Goerge H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.
Mr. Abrams tried to interject by alleging Ms. Omar’s statement was an attack against him, but Ms. Omar stood strong proclaiming that it was not a question, that she reserved the right to her time and she thanked Mr. Abrams for his participation. Ilhan Omar’s knowledge and bravery to call out a war criminal on a global stage for the world to see opened the eyes of many Americans to the Trump administration’s planned coup in Venezuela and Elliot Abrams plan for Venezuela was denied by the Foreign Affairs Committee.
On February 20th, The Grayzone Project’s Jeb Sprague published an article along with a video in which he enters the offices of 21Air, a shadowy air cargo company accused of ferrying arms to Venezuela. He writes in his report:
McClatchy discovered that the plane had suddenly begun making constant trips – 40 in total – to Colombia and Venezuela, sometimes multiple times a day during the month of January. The flights began immediately following the swearing-in of Venezuela’s incumbent president, Nicholas Maduro.
This McClatchy news report was also mentioned in a question to Elliot Abrams by Representative Joaquin Castro during his testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Representative Castro asked Elliot Abrams “my question is whether you’re aware of transfers of weapons or defense equipment by the United States government to groups in Venezuela opposed to Maduro since you were appointed Special Representative to Venezuela?”
Elliot Abrams replies. “No.”
Mr. Castro continues and says “and I want to be respectful you, but also honest, the reason I ask that question is there has been a McClatchy news report of such an incident. Are you aware of that news report to which Mr. Abrams replies, “I saw the report, yes.” Mr. Castro then states “I asked that question because you have a record of such actions, in Nicaragua, you were involved in the effort to covertly provide lethal aid to the Contras against the will of Congress. You ultimately plead guilty to two counts of lying to Congress and withholding information from Congress in regard to your testimony during the Iran Contra scandal, so I ask you the question can we trust your testimony today?” Elliot Abrams fired back and said, “well you can make that decision for yourself Mr. Castro.”
According to the report from The Grayzone Project, Adolfo Moreno who is chairman of 21AIr and Michael Steinke who runs the day-to-day operations at 21Air have had ties to Gemini Air Cargo, “a company that was involved in more than 30 air charter services used for CIA rendition. Those flights ferried individuals suspected of terrorism by U.S. authorities to be tortured and interrogated at CIA “black sites” around the world.”
Media outlets like The Grayzone Project are proving how important independent adversarial voices are nowadays. Before the age of the Internet, information was controlled, but the Internet along with independent media outlets have exploded the walls of carefully manufactured echo chambers created to propagandize the masses into thinking military intervention or economic warfare somehow perpetuates democracy around the globe.
Written by Joziah Thayer – Founder of the WEDA Coalition -Follow me on Twitter @ Dapeaple – You can read more of my articles here.