Venezuela’s response: “Defend the human rights of the black U.S. citizens being killed in U.S. cities every day, Mr. Obama,” Maduro stated.
(March 11) – U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order against Venezuela on March 9 aimed at interfering in the country’s sovereignty. His Executive Order is based on arguments claiming Venezuela is a threat to national security because of alleged human rights violations and widespread corruption. It reads:
“I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”
Obama also ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, saying that they all would be banned from traveling to the United States and any and all assets and properties belonging to them would be frozen.
The officials affected by Obama’s sanctions are Antonio José Benavides Torres, Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense (REDI) of the Central Region of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB); Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez López, Director General of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN); and President of Venezuela’s Strategic Center of Security and Protection of the Homeland (CESPPA).
Also targeted are Justo José Noguera Pietri, President of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), a state-owned entity; Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron, a national level prosecutor of the 20th District Office of Venezuela’s Public Ministry; Manuel Eduardo Perez Urdaneta, Director of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Police; Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martinez, Chief of the 31st Armored Brigade of Caracas of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Army; Bernal Martínez, who was the head of SEBIN on February 12, 2014; and Miguel Alcides Vivas Landino, Inspector General of the FANB.
“We now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.
As if who is responsible for the criminalization of dissent is not known the world over, Earnest added, “We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent.” (He must have been chosen White House spokesman because of his name).
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro condemned President Obama’s measure and explained the executive order signed by the U.S. President coincided with a failed coup attempt in Venezuela last month, which had links to U.S. citizens.
“After we dismantled the coup attempt […] the U.S. and President Barack Obama […] decided to personally fulfill the task of ousting my government,” Maduro said. According to intelligence reports he had received recently, over the last nine days “many meetings were held between the Department of State and the White House” to discuss measures to be taken against his government, Maduro said.
“A Frankenstein, a monster”
Highlighting the hypocrisy of Obama’s executive order, Maduro called the statement “a Frankenstein, a monster” – it heavily criticizes Venezuela but ends with Obama vowing to build a better relationship with the South American country.
Speaking from Miraflores Palace on the afternoon of March 9, Maduro described the U.S. measure as the most aggressive step taken yet, attributing this to its frustration and desperation.
Maduro further criticized Obama’s announcement by pointing out that the U.S. is a bigger threat to the world.
“You are the real threat, who trained and created Osama Bin Laden, you are the people who created al-Qaida,” said Maduro. Bin Laden was trained by the CIA during the late 1970s to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
Maduro pointed to the hypocrisy of the U.S. in focusing on the human rights of Venezuelans: “Defend the human rights of the black U.S. citizens being killed in U.S. cities every day, Mr. Obama,” he stated.
Maduro pointed out that the U.S. has issued 105 statements on Venezuela over the past year, of which half explicitly supported opposition politicians. The Venezuelan president reiterated previous calls he had publicly made to his U.S. counterpart, urging him not to take the path of intervention that his predecessors took in Latin America.
“I’ve told Mr. Obama, how do you want to be remembered? Like Richard Nixon, who ousted Salvador Allende in Chile? Like President Bush, responsible for ousting President Chávez? Well President Obama, you already made your choice you will be remembered like President Nixon.”
Maduro explained that a political agreement was brokered in December between opposition lawmakers and the government, and that according to Venezuela’s intelligence sources it was at this point that the latest coup plot began. The opposition lawmakers broke the agreement after they received a phone call, which Maduro revealed came from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.
By then, the president said, “we knew who had called and from where they had called, and in what language they spoke.”
The Venezuelan authorities were also monitoring a group of rogue officials, who they had tracked as a result of intelligence obtained from anonymous sources in contact with the U.S. government officials.
“They were trying to revise the events of April 11, 2002,” said Maduro, highlighting the similarities between recent actions carried by the opposition with events leading to the brief coup against President Hugo Chávez in 2002.
Maduro also referred to the role of Carlos Osuna, believed to be the mastermind and financier of the coup. Osuna “is in New York, under protection of the U.S. government,” he said.
The rhetoric being used against Venezuela was like that “used against Salvador Allende in Chile,” overthrown in a 1973 U.S.-backed coup and like that “against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala” in 1954 when a progressive government was ousted by the U.S.
The common discourse was described by Maduro as the “coup ideals,” which are based on accusing these left-wing democratically elected governments of violating rights as a justification to oust them.
President Maduro reiterated that economic sabotage – the same tactic used against Allende in Chile – had been planned since July 2014 by the U.S. government. Sources told the government “there was a meeting in the White House, back in July where [the U.S. government and its agencies] decided to launch economic warfare,” the president revealed.
Maduro also reminded Venezuelans that he had warned about the coup attempts in the early days of January, during his tour through OPEC member countries.
In related news, on March 9, President Maduro also announced the introduction of new economic policies as a strategy to counter hoarding, TeleSUR informs.
“Starting this week, we are going to establish fingerprint scanners to guarantee security. We will install more then 20,000 fingerprint machines throughout the country to guarantee food to the people,” Maduro told local media on March 9. He said that seven large private retail chains had voluntarily agreed to install the scanners, which will help guarantee the supply of basic foods and goods.
“The fingerprint readers will prevent people from buying more products than they are allotted in a measure aimed at reducing smuggling and panic-shopping, which is caused by the right-wing opposition’s hoarding strategy aimed at destabilizing the government,” says a report from TeleSUR. The report continues:
“The readers are also expected to significantly reduce the amount of products being smuggled, allowing for the population to purchase the goods in stores.
“Following last week’s fact finding mission lead by the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, the regional bloc issued a statement announcing regional support for the supply of basic goods to Venezuela, including agreements such as the creation of a regional food network.”
(TeleSUR. Photos: HCPDF)