As Venezuela continues to feel the hurt amid the U.S.-spearheaded effort to unseat elected President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader and parliament speaker Juan Guaido, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza lashed out at Washington’s cynical motivation behind its efforts.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, the top diplomat accused the U.S. of openly seeking to overturn the Bolivarian government for the sake of stealing the country’s oil reserves. Arreaza wrote:
“More evidence of the coup plot: yesterday the spokesmen of Washington, with the impudence that characterizes them, provided the world with concrete and irrefutable evidence on the sole objective of this coup attempt in Venezuela: Oil.”
On Monday, the U.S. slapped Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA with harsh new sanctions in a bid to choke off one of the few remaining sources of revenue for the Maduro government.
However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ensured that U.S. companies would be allowed to continue doing business with PDVSA – a company he blasted as a “vehicle for embezzlement” – provided the funds are disbursed to accounts that Caracas would be blocked from accessing.
Washington hopes that such tactics will force Maduro to declare early presidential elections despite his having taken the oath of office just this month.
The news comes as Alfred de Zayas, a former special rapporteur for the United Nations Human Rights Council who had visited Venezuela in the past, blasted the overuse of sanctions as a weapon that causes death through food and medicine shortages, human rights violations, and a form of economic coercion that violates international law, according to The Independent.
In September, De Zayas gave a presentation to the U.N. Human Rights Council that was completely ignored.
In the report, he noted that Venezuela is overly dependent on the oil trade and racked with poor governance and corruption that mainly stemmed from the “economic warfare” waged against the South American country by wealthy northern countries including the United States, the European Union, and Canada.
De Zayas also called for the International Criminal Court to investigate the anti-Venezuela sanctions as a possible crime against humanity under Article Seven of the ICC’s Rome Statute, powerfully stating:
“Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender.
Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees.”
Continuing, De Zayas decried the manner in which sanctions are “accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through ‘fake news,’ aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights ‘end’ justifies the criminal means.”
He added that the sanctions are a result of an unfair and unjust geopolitical order that contradicts the very purpose of the United Nations:
“There is not only a horizontal juridical world order governed by the Charter of the United Nations and principles of sovereign equality, but also a vertical world order reflecting the hierarchy of a geopolitical system that links dominant States with the rest of the world according to military and economic power.
It is the latter, geopolitical system that generates geopolitical crimes, hitherto in total impunity.
It is reported that the United States is currently training foreign lawyers in how to draft legislation to impose further sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in an effort to asphyxiate Venezuelan State institutions.”
Concluding, De Zayas stressed the need for understanding that “governments are not always the ‘bad guys’ especially when looking at the role of other players and their impact on human rights, “including the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, transnational corporations and some lobbies like the military-industrial-finance complex.”
“These actors often wield more influence than States,” De Zayas bluntly noted.
Stressing the need to grasp the legitimacy of democratically elected governments including the Maduro government in Caracas, De Zayas noted that the country is in dire need of good faith negotiations between the government and the opposition, the lifting of sanctions, and the world’s assistance in helping to overcome its severe economic crisis.