After the U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow elected Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro by force fizzled out, the Trump administration on Monday moved to further strangle the Latin American nation’s economy by imposing a full economic embargo.
President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting Venezuela, according to the Washington Post, “blocks all property and assets of the government and its officials, and prohibits any transactions with them, including the Venezuelan Central Bank and the state oil company.”
“The action puts Venezuela on par with Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, the only other countries under a similar full embargo,” the Post reported.
Journalist and filmmaker Dan Cohen described the embargo as “economic terrorism”:
US ramps up economic terrorism campaign against Venezuela with total economic embargo and sanctions on any third party company who it does business with. https://t.co/3jRymjniCK
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) August 6, 2019
The Venezuelan economy has already been crippled by sweeping U.S. sanctions, which the Trump administration has expanded over the past several months in an attempt to overthrow Maduro and install opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
As Common Dreams reported in April, a study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela killed more than 40,000 people between 2017 and 2018.
“The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports,” wrote CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot, a co-author of the study. “This is illegal under U.S. and international law, and treaties that the U.S. has signed. Congress should move to stop it.”
The Trump administration’s decision to impose a full embargo on Venezuela was viewed as yet another attempt to oust Maduro—an effort that could do severe harm to the civilian population.
“Trump’s action, the toughest yet against Maduro, not only bans U.S. companies from dealings with the Venezuela government but also appears to open the door to possible sanctions against foreign firms or individuals that assist it,” HuffPost reported.
Responding to recent U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, journalist Ben Norton wrote, “The U.S. gov is telling the Venezuelan people that if they want to eat, they have to change their politics.”
The embargo comes as Trump national security adviser John Bolton is in Peru to deliver an address Tuesday to the so-called International Conference on Democracy in Venezuela.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained a copy of Bolton’s prepared remarks, the national security adviser plans to claim that previous embargoes imposed by the U.S. were successful.
“It worked in Panama, it worked in Nicaragua once, and it will work there again, and it will work in Venezuela and Cuba!” Bolton will say, the Journal reported.
Though the Trump administration insisted the embargo will allow exceptions for humanitarian assistance such as food and medicine, experts said such exceptions will likely not have an effect in practice.
“The administration hasn’t been very good at dedicating financial lines that would allow the purchase of food and medicine in sanctioned countries,” sanctions expert Jeffrey Schott told the Journal. “In practice, we still block food and medicine because the parties in the targeted regime that want to import it can’t get financing.”