The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

U.S. Imperialism Strangles the Venezuelan Economy

May 13, 2019

In Venezuela, a U.S.-backed military uprising aimed at overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro fizzled out in a few hours on April 30. Juan Guaidó, the extreme-right-wing opposition politician backed by the U.S. government, stood outside a Venezuelan air force base in Caracas surrounded by a few dozen soldiers and some supporters, and proclaimed that it was the “final phase” of the military overthrow.

In fact, Guaidó found little support or enthusiasm for his “final phase.” Only a few troops and one senior official, Maduro’s intelligence chief, Christopher Figueroa, joined the opposition.

By the end of the day, senior Trump administration officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and foreign policy advisor John Bolton, were lashing out at their usual “favorite targets,” blaming the governments of Russia and Cuba for continuing economic relations with Venezuela. They also blamed top Venezuelan military officers and said they backpedaled on their promises to support a coup.

Unsuccessful in their coup attempt, Pompeo, Bolton and others blustered, saying that the Trump administration “will simply not rule out” military action in Venezuela. The Pentagon’s Joint Staff and Southern Command reported that they had given the White House an array of military options, including preparations for joint military operations with other South American countries against Venezuela, even another military coup. In passing, they also threatened a military blockade of Cuba.

These military threats are not new. And we don’t know when or how a more open military intervention may occur.

But meanwhile, the U.S. government has continued a very real economic war against the Venezuelan government and the people of Venezuela. In fact, they boast about the damage being done. Just six days before the U.S.-sponsored coup attempt, the U.S. State Department published, then retracted a fact sheet spelling out some of the different forms of sanctions and embargoes that the U.S. government has imposed. It bragged that the U.S. government had gotten various international organizations to help the U.S. gang up against Venezuela, and that “roughly $3.2 billion of Venezuela’s {assets} overseas are frozen.”

Venezuela’s oil production, which the entire economy depends on, has been cut by more than half in less than a year. Recently, 25 oil tankers filled with 12 million barrels of oil have been stranded off the coast of Venezuela for lack of buyers, despite the fact that it was offering a 25 per cent discount on the oil.

This economic war has had a devastating impact on the Venezuelan population. Unofficial estimates are that 40,000 people have already died from 2017 to 2018 from lack of food, lack of clean water, and lack of medicines. Those dying are the most vulnerable parts of the population, especially the poor, the elderly and the very young. Another 300,000 people are said to be at risk because of lack of medical care and medicine. All this is a direct result of the economic sanctions and embargo.

The U.S. strategy is to punish the population until it supports a dictator of the U.S.’s choice to run Venezuela. It is no mistake–it is deliberate terrorism.