The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, criticized the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, after her trip to Venezuela, because her statements have given “aid to an oppressive regime.” He clarified that the crisis in that country, in reality, is due to the sanctions imposed by the Chavista government against the Venezuelan people.
Bachelet, who visited the South American country to learn about the ravages of the crisis, said that the sanctions against the Maduro regime have “exacerbated” the situation in Venezuela.
“If we are going to talk about the effect of the sanctions on the Venezuelan people…the harshest sanction the Venezuelan people have endured was the corruption of the Maduro system and the High Commissioner of Human Rights must begin to refer to this point,” said Almagro at a press conference in Medellín where the 49th OAS General Assembly is being held.
Almagro mentioned two “sanctions” implemented by Maduro that have sunk the country into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis: the theft of USD $80 billion, and the oil given to Cuba.
“The Maduro regime has stolen 80 billion dollars, that is the lowest estimated figure, equivalent to a Marshall Plan when adjusted for inflation,” said Almagro.
The second worst sanction, according to Almagro, is “the 40,000 barrels of oil stolen by Cuba from Venezuela, which takes them practically on its own.”
The US ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, described as “ridiculous” Bachelet’s statements on sanctions against the Maduro dictatorship.
“It’s pretty ridiculous that Michelle Bachelet is going to blame the United States for this. We started to apply sanctions in the month of February. Those sanctions take weeks to implement and did not come into effect until the end of May. What we saw in Venezuela before the sanctions was four million refugees fleeing the country,” said Trujillo.
Additionally, he noted that the sanctions have been applied to entitites such as the state oil company PDVSA and key regime figures, not the Venezuelan people.
Almagro agrees with Trujillo and said that “the application of these sanctions (international) was not immediate…it was suspended for a time, and was applied later. And the effects of the humanitarian crisis were already seen.”
The crisis came first
Last May, the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) published for the first time in three years, statistical information about the Venezuelan economy. The report revealed that the Maduro regime has destroyed the country’s finances, and not the international sanctions, as the Chavista dictatorship argues.
The BCV data confirms that most of the destruction of the economy occurred long before the sanctions, when Venezuela reduced its oil exports and stopped paying its debts and commitments.
On May 27, the NGO Provea published an investigation prepared by the economist Manuel Sutherland, in which the impact of international economic sanctions is analyzed. According to the report, the impact of the sanctions “is barely showing up.”
“While it is true that since 2017 it is much more difficult for the government to import food and medicine, this is not the cause of the severe shortage thereof, which is mainly due to the economic crisis that since 2009 has been brewing in the country,” the document said, adding that the Maduro regime could import food and medicine from companies in India, Russia, and China, which are allies of the dictatorship.
The first financial sanctions were imposed in August 2017 and the first direct economic sanctions begin in November 2018. That being said, we must remember that the sanctions imposed in 2017 were at a time when the Venezuelan economy was already at the lowest point in its history. From 2013 to 2016, the economy had already fallen by almost 25% (Salas, 2017), and for the first time in its history recorded a sustained decline over the course of 12 quarters.
Regarding the August 2017 sanctions, in the first two quarters of that year the economy had already decreased by around 8%, one of the worst declines in GDP in regional history. Therefore, long before the sanctions emerged as a factory, the economy was already on the road to destruction.