Venezuela Will Protect US Embassy in Caracas.

Uploaded by TeleSUR English | Published on May 18, 2019.

Venezuelan Conflict Comes to DC in Embassy Fight.

Uploaded by i24NEWS English | Published on May 18, 2019.

Vijay Prashad: "The Plot to Kill Venezuela."

The Plot to Kill Venezuela. [Republished]

And who is caught between an economy reliant on oil revenues and a sanctions regime designed to create suffering? The people caught in the squeeze of factors beyond their control.
By Vijay Prashad
Common Dreams | Monday, May 13, 2019.

Hugo Chávez knew that Venezuela was very vulnerable. Its oil revenues account for 98 percent of its export earnings. Chávez was familiar with the thinking of Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuela’s minister of mines and hydrocarbons in the early 1960s and one of the architects of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In 1976, Pérez Alfonzo wrote, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin.” He called Venezuela’s oil the “devil’s excrement.” If oil prices remained high, as they were when Chávez came to power in 1999, then oil revenue could be used to finance a project for the landless workers. If oil prices collapsed, then the country—laden with debt—would face severe challenges.

Venezuela’s economy had not been diversified by the oligarchy that ruled the country before Chávez took office. By 1929, it had become apparent to the oligarchy that the flood of oil revenues had damaged the agricultural sector—which shrank in the decades to come. There was neither an attempt to enhance agricultural production (and make Venezuela food sovereign) nor was there any attempt to use oil profits for a wider industrialization program. Occasionally, presidents—such as Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 1970s—would pledge to use the influx of oil revenues to diversify the economy, but when oil prices would fall—as they did periodically—Venezuela went into punishing debt.

It would have taken Chávez a generation to pivot the economy away from its reliance upon oil revenues. But Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the time. In the 2000s, when oil prices remained high, the revenues were used to enhance the social lives of the landless workers, most of whom suffered high rates of malnutrition and illiteracy. Gripped by the need to deal with the social blight amongst the landless workers, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution simply did not have the capacity to tackle reliance upon imports of food and of most consumer goods.

In 2009, a U.S. State Department cable from Caracas noted that the decline in oil prices had placed the Venezuelan government in great peril. The government’s oil company—PDVSA—had provided the revenues to fund the social missions, the programs to lift the low standard of social life for the landless workers. “Unless oil prices rise significantly,” wrote John Caulfield from Caracas, “we are increasingly certain that the game will be up, from an economic standpoint, by early to mid 2010, as no one will be willing to continue to finance PDVSA and a vicious cycle will be inevitable.” The June 2008 price was $163.52; by January 2009, it had collapsed to $50.43. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution was in peril.


The United States government and the Venezuelan oligarchy first tried to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution in 2002. Great hope in Chávez prevented a discredited oligarchy from victory. Oil revenues then allowed Chávez to build up pillars of support for the revolution. But the depletion of the oil prices from 2009 threatened the Bolivarian process. Chávez died in 2013. The combination of low oil prices and the death of Chávez changed the political calculations.

Egged on by the United States, opposition leaders Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado called for demonstrations against the newly elected president Nicolás Maduro in 2014. It was clear that the protests were intended as a provocation, drawing a crackdown from the government forces, which allowed U.S. President Barack Obama to sign the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. This act allowed Obama to sanction individuals in the Venezuelan government. It was extended in 2016 and will expire—unless extended again—at the end of 2019. The sanctions policy was to be the new lever to pressure a vulnerable Venezuela.

In March 2015, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat” to U.S. “national security,” an extreme step, and sanctioned a handful of Venezuelan government officials. The administration of Donald Trump only sharpened and deepened the policy. Obama sanctioned seven individuals, while Trump has—thus far—sanctioned 75 individuals. Obama forged the spear; Trump has thrown it at the heart of Venezuela.

Sanctioned Economy

These early sanctions went after individuals, offering an inconvenience for some Venezuelan politicians and for sections of the state. The U.S. government would soon move the sanctions from individual inconvenience to social collapse. Trump’s policy, from 2017, was to hit Venezuela’s petroleum industry very hard. The U.S. government prevented Venezuelan government bonds from trading in U.S. financial markets, and then it prevented the state’s energy company—PDVSA—from receiving payments for its export of petroleum products. The U.S. Treasury Department froze $7 billion in PDVSA assets, and it did not allow U.S. firms to export naphtha into Venezuela (a crucial input for the extraction of heavy crude oil).

The country relied on oil revenues to import food and medicines. The theft of the $7 billion in PDVSA assets, the seizure of the $1.2 billion in Venezuelan gold in the Bank of England, the transfer of ownership of the PDVSA subsidiary CITGO in the United States to the opposition and the pressure on oil exports squeezed Venezuela very hard. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton estimated that the United States (and Canadian) sanctions had cost Venezuela about $11 billion.

When the United States began to put pressure on transportation firms to stop carrying Venezuelan oil, the schemes to export oil to the Caribbean (PetroCaribe) suffered, as did the fraternal delivery of oil to Cuba. This policy inflamed the situation in Haiti—which is in a long-term political crisis—and it has deepened the crisis in Cuba—which has now had to enforce rationing. The countries in the Caribbean, which relied upon Venezuelan oil, are now suffering deeply.

Impact of the Sanctions

Economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs calculate that the U.S. sanctions have resulted in the death of 40,000 Venezuelan civilians between 2017 and 2018. In their report—“Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela” (April 2019)—they point out that this death toll is merely the start of what is to come. An additional 300,000 Venezuelans are at risk “because of lack of access to medicines or treatment,” including 80,000 “with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017.” There are 4 million people with diabetes and hypertension, most of whom cannot access insulin or cardiovascular medicine. “These numbers,” they write, “by themselves virtually guarantee that the current sanctions, which are much more severe than those implemented before this year, are a death sentence for tens of thousands of Venezuelans.” If oil revenues drop by 67 percent in 2019—as has been projected—the death of tens of thousands of Venezuelans is guaranteed.

Venezuela has imported food goods worth only $2.46 billion in 2018 compared to $11.2 billion in 2013. If food imports remain low and Venezuela is unable to hastily grow enough food, then—as Weisbrot and Sachs argue—the situation will contribute to “malnutrition and stunting in children.”

In 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights—Michelle Bachelet—made the case that the cause of the deterioration of well-being in Venezuela predates the sanctions (a report from Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins University underlined this point). It is certainly true that the fall of oil prices had a marked impact on Venezuela’s external revenues and the reliance upon food imports—a century-old problem—had marked the country before Trump’s very harsh sanctions.

But, the next year, Bachelet told the UN Security Council that “although this pervasive and devastating economic and social crisis began before the imposition of the first economic sanctions in 2017, I am concerned that the recent sanctions on financial transfers related to the sale of Venezuelan oil within the United States may contribute to aggravating the economic crisis, with possible repercussions on people’s basic rights and wellbeing.” A debate over whether it is mismanagement and corruption by the Maduro government or the sanctions that are the author of the crisis is largely irrelevant. The point is that a combination of the reliance on oil revenues and the sanctions policy has crushed the policy space for any stability in the country.

Illegal Sanctions

Weisbrot and Sachs say that these sanctions “would fit the definition of collective punishment,” as laid out in the Hague Convention (1899) and in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). The United States is a signatory of both of these frameworks. “Collective penalties,” says the Fourth Geneva Convention, “are prohibited.” Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are dead. Tens of thousands more are under threat of death. Yet, no one has stood up against the grave breach of the convention in terms of collective punishment. There is not a whiff of interest in the UN Secretary General’s office to open a tribunal on the accusations of collective punishment against Venezuela. Allegations of this seriousness are brushed under the rug. SOURCE

The Latest on Iran, Venezuela, and China: What’s Next?

Uploaded by The Big Picture RT | Published on May 17, 2019.

Activists charged with ‘interfering’ in US raid on Venezuelan embassy.

Anti-coup activists charged with ‘interfering’ in US raid on Venezuelan embassy.
RT News | Published time: 17 May, 2019 23:08

Four protesters arrested inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC have been released pending hearing – but could face up to a year in jail for trying to prevent a takeover of the building by the US-backed opposition.

Members of the Embassy Protection Collective have been released on various conditions after their arrest Thursday afternoon by heavily armed US police. The misdemeanor charge of “interfering with a federal law enforcement agent engaged in protective functions” carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, even though the activists and the Venezuelan government alike insist the US police had no right to enter the building.

WATCH members of the Embassy Protection Collective speak following their release from jail: https://t.co/rDJ59CsoLn
— Anya Parampil (@anyaparampil) May 17, 2019

The protesters are “looking forward to the trial,” Kevin Zeese told journalist Anya Parampil after his release, adding that they planned to “make the case that there is a legitimate government, that the Vienna convention was violated, that this was an inappropriate and unlawful arrest.”

Margaret Ann Flowers, Adrienne Pine, and David Vernon Paul were also released. They are due back in court on June 12.

The judge ordered the protesters to steer clear of 10 locations now controlled by representatives of the Venezuelan opposition and check in weekly with authorities as a condition of their release. While the US government asked for their passports to be confiscated, that request was denied, though they must notify authorities if they plan to travel abroad.

The collective had been living in the building for over a month with permission of the Venezuelan foreign ministry, hoping to prevent it from falling into the hands of US-backed “interim president” Juan Guaido, whose operatives have taken possession of other Venezuelan diplomatic buildings after diplomats loyal to President Nicolas Maduro were forced to leave the country.

US authorities had also shut off power and water to the embassy and tried to block food deliveries to the protesters living inside, in a pale echo of the blackouts and sanction-imposed scarcity Washington has inflicted on actual Venezuelans in its ongoing campaign to force regime change in Caracas.

Venezuelan Vice Minister for North American Relations Carlos Ron condemned the raid, calling it an “unlawful breach of the Vienna Convention” and confirming the Venezuelan government did not authorize any US authorities to enter the building, which under international law is considered Venezuelan diplomatic property. SOURCE

UK: Venezuela’s UK Ambassador holds Press Conference in London

Uploaded by Ruptly | Published on May 17, 2019.

Jorge Arreaza's Message To The US: This Is The Moment For Diplomacy.

The entire special interview [in Spanish] with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Areeaza, follows. The clip above begins at position 10:05 in the video below.

Uploaded by teleSUR tv | Published on May 17, 2019.

Telesur English | 17 May, 2019.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza hailed Norway's mediation efforts and stressed that "knowing how to listen, agree and comply is required."

During an exclusive interview with teleSUR, Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza addressed some of the the highlights of the current political, economic and diplomatic situation his country is going through.

With regard to the "exploratory phase" of dialogue taking place in Norway between representatives of the President Nicolas Maduro administration and delegates of the opposition Juan Guaido, Arreaza recalled that his government has always insisted that dialogue is a "must" and much more when Venezuela is under attack.

Representatives from the International Contact Group for Venezuela, which includes several Latin American and European countries have made five visits to the country in the last three months, informed Arreaza. The vice-ministers of foreign affairs from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and Uruguay who all belong to the group made a special visit to Venezuela Thursday and met with Maduro where they were asked to understand the Bolivarian Revolution without outside biases.

Importante reunión con el Grupo Internacional de Contacto que visita Venezuela. Les expresé mi disposición de resolver las diferencias internas por la vía del diálogo y conversamos sobre las agresiones económicas del imperio de los EE.UU. en contra de nuestro Pueblo. pic.twitter.com/Z4zJQGJDXK
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) May 17, 2019

Important meeting with the International Contact Group visiting Venezuela. I expressed my willingness to resolve internal differences through dialogue and we talked about the economic aggressions of the US empire against our People.

It is important to "understand the Venezuelan reality by taking into account the historical struggle for the control of oil resources, which happens between, on the one hand, a local bourgeoisie wanting to appropriate oil revenues for its own benefit and, on the other hand, a government seeking to distribute oil wealth through housing, health and education for its people," emphasized the Venezuelan diplomat during the interview.

#FromTheSouth News Bits | Mara Verhayden-Hilliard, the attorney representing the Embassy Protection Activists who were arrested by #UnitedStates federal police, has said the invasion of the Venezuelan embassy in #WashingtonDC is an outrageous violation of the Vienna convention. pic.twitter.com/9nze1f1rUC
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) 17 de mayo de 2019

Minister Arreaza did not provide details about the dialogue's exploratory phase, however, he thanked Norway for its willingness to contribute to peace.

"We are very grateful to the kingdom of Norway for its efforts to bring parties together. ... Dialogue in democracy is always good news. ... There is a historical conflict that must be managed in peace (and) knowing how to listen, agree and comply is requiered."

Regarding the Lima Group meeting, which was scheduled for this week but suspended, the foreign minister said that such suspension reflects a change in the group's strategy, which was "surprised" by the recently publicized talks in Norway.

"It is the anti-dialogue group. ... It's a group of right-wing Latin American governments that reflect U.S. policy. ... However, Venezuela is willing to work with these governments," stressed the Venezuelan minister who explained that although the Lima Group rejected a military intervention in Venezuela, it has fostered political conditions that make the U.S. believe that such an intervention is feasible.

We will be gathering at the Venezuelan Embassy at noon and then marching to the White House to demand us hands off Venezuela, drop the charges against the embassy protectors and no war on Iran. Join us? https://t.co/ms6xafeYN9
— Phil Wilayto (@PhilWilayto1) 17 de mayo de 2019

Speaking about ​​recent foreign-driven actions against Venezuela, Arreaza highlighted the unfortunate events that took place at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. Thursday and thanked U.S. peace activists who defended that building for over a month.

On May 16, United States local and national security forces invaded Venezuela's sovereign embassy in D.C. to arrest the remaining Protection Collective members inside the building trying to keep it in the hands of the democratically elected Maduro adminstration.

"First of all a recognition to the activists who protected the embassy. ... Their moral strength and integrity were greater than all the police forces trying to evict them through the back door," said Arreaza and commented that "it was a sad spectacle and a violation of the Vienna Convention."

This multilateral agreement, he recalled, obliges any country to respect and protect other countries' embassy even when there is a rupture of diplomatic relations or armed conflicts.

"We do respect international law. ... The U.S. sits on the United Nations Security Council but threatens other countries with war," he said and pointed out that "the time for diplomacy is now, I hope they understand... all their strategies against Venezuela have failed. ... (Trumps') advisers have committed one awkward event after another," referring to the failed 'humanitarian aid' in February, massive electrical sabotages on Venezuela in March, and May's coup attempt against Maduro.

#LIVE | President @NicolasMaduro: "We call to respect the human rights of @codepink activists that defended our embassy after we broke diplomatic relations with the Trump government" pic.twitter.com/FqFLOwNM9V
— Global Analytica (@AnalyticaGlobal) 16 de mayo de 2019

Minister Arreaza indicated that similar actions against the U.S. embassy in Caracas could be undertaken, if his country followed the 'Principle of Reciprocity' tradition. However, Venezuela will not do so because the Bolivarian government does respect international law.

With respect to what could happen to the Venezuelan building in D.C., he said that it would be absurd for the Venezuelan opposition to occupy the Bolivarian embassy and perform administrative tasks from there.

"If any Venezuelan went to the embassy, ​​he could not process a visa, apostille a document or perform similar actions. It would be absurd."

Arreaza stressed again that the "brazen" disrespect for international law that took place at the Venezuelan embassy has become "a great triumph" for both his country and peace activists who demonstrated "seeds of change" that will benefit sooner than later the world and the United States.

As a message to all Venezuelans without distinction of political positions, Minister Arreaza said that violence will not be the means to solve domestic disputes.

"We have a Constitution which cost a lot and we must protect it. Venezuela needs a peaceful and democratic road. Within that, there is no intervention," he recalled and added that "we all have to reject war and blockades, and bet on dialogue, democracy and peace. ... Problems will not be solved with aggression, insult and violence," said the diplomat. SOURCE

The Point: Is the U.S. imposing War on Venezuela?

Uploaded by CGTN | Published on May 17, 2019.

Venezuela receives Third Shipment of Medical Assistance from China.

Uploaded by New China TV | Published on May 17, 2019.
Xinhua | 2019-05-17

CARACAS, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela received on Thursday the third shipment of medical aid from China, with 64 tons of medicines and medical supplies, a Venezuelan official said.

At the Simon Bolivar International Airport, Venezuelan Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said that the aid is "fundamental and necessary for the national public health system."

He explained that once the medical assistance arrived at the warehouse, it would be distributed through the national hospital system.

"This will come immediately to its destination," he said.

He also said that, within the framework of the agreements with China, a fourth plane with medical assistance is scheduled to arrive in the next fifteen days.

The first batch of medical assistance from China, made up of 65 tons of medicines and medical supplies, arrived in Venezuela in March. The second shipment of 71 tons of medical aid from China were received by Venezuela on Monday.