BREAKING: Venezuela Has Worse Human Rights Problems than Saudi Arabia … ?

President Obama imposed sanctions on a number of Venezuelans yesterday, including — among others — the woman prosecuting Caracas MayorAntonio Ledezma Diaz, Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron. Apparent intelligence officers seized Ledezma on February 20, and since then, Nicolas Maduro, has been tying Ledezma’s seizure to a purported coup plan launched by exiles in the US, but also using the tools of American hegemony.

President Maduro played the audio of a conversation held between Carlos Manuel Osuna Saraco, a former Venezuelan politician living in New York, and a soldier, in which Osuna dictates the statement that the rebel soldiers should read out during the coup.

The Venezuelan leader informed viewers that he would soon call upon the United States to extradite the suspect Osuna for trial in his home country.

Maduro also noted that in addition to the call from Osuna’s base in New York, there was a second phone call from Miami.

Ledezma was in constant coordination with Osuna in New York via telephone.


Maduro also showed a copy of a new “100-day Plan for Transition”, designed by the coup plotters and the opposition, which stipulated a series of measures which would be implemented by the planned governing junta.

The plan would take effect immediately after the coup, calling for early elections and the privatization of all public services.

The transitional government would request all of the current Venezuelan officials to turn themselves into the police within a period of 180 days. It also requested every Cuban worker within the government to turn themselves in unarmed to their local police station.

The plan also contemplated a role for the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to intervene in the Venezuelan economy.

In response, the US has been saying Maduro is making this whole coup thing up, even accusing him of making up some of the intelligence he was showing to make his case.

And then, even while claiming Maduro was making shit up about the US engaging in economic war and using its tools of hegemony to conduct regime change in Venezuela, President Obama used its dominant financial position to undermine Maduro’s regime.

The order imposing sanctions, like all such orders, makes a convoluted explanation for why the US has to use its purported capitalistic tools against foreigners. First, because Venezuela poses a threat to US national security.

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 antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment 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.

It then defines sanction targets as those who undermine democratic processes, engage in violence or human rights abuses (including — though purportedly not limited to those involved in anti-government protests), those that limit freedom of expression, and those involved in public corruption.

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State: (A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela: (1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; (2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014; (3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or (4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;

The fact sheet on these sanctions also argues Venezuela is the among the most corrupt countries in the world (but doesn’t mention that it ties with Yemen, and beats out Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as allies like Uzbekistan — all of also which rank much worse for human rights abuses than Venezuela.

In other words, the Administration is claiming that Venezuela’s corruption and human rights abuses present a much bigger threat to the US than a string of countries we’ve already destabilized that are worse in terms of corruption and human rights, as well as (in the latter category) Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s more severe human rights abuses.

All of which is receiving more scrutiny than it normally would, not least because the claim that Venezuela is a threat to US national security is so obviously bullshit.

As an official whose identity couldn’t be revealed because Obama’s is the Most Transparent Evah™ explained the other day, it’s actually normal for the government to claim that sanction targets are a threat to this country.

So I can start off and say in terms of how unusual this is, most of our sanctions programs began with the declaration by the President of a national emergency that results — that’s a threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.  And so most of the sanctions programs that we have, from Iran to Syria, Burma, across the board, rely on these same types of national emergency declarations.

So in that sense, it’s a usual part of the process.  And we have somewhere between 20 and 30 sanctions programs, depending on the way you measure them, that are based on these same types of national emergency declarations.

Either the same or another SAO insisted that this is not about the US bigfooting in Venezuela.

Can I just also — let me just say that there’s been a lot of commentary about interference in internal affairs of other countries by the Venezuelan government.  The actions we take today are clearly sovereign actions by a country about its own financial system.  These actions we take are sovereign decisions about who comes into the United States.  They’re not actions taken to involve ourselves in another country.

Other countries — notably Russia and China — are both affirmatively rolling out measures to counter our dominance in the financial world, in ways that could significantly undermine our obviously selective choice for sanctions targets. Whatever else these Venezuela sanctions do, they will also likely elicit more scrutiny of just how illegitimate our use of sanctions is (and to a significant extent, has long been).

11 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    OMG, another “national emergency” added to the thirty “national emergencies” we already have. –Be afraid, very afraid.–Or not.
    I keep track of US “national emergencies” so you don’t have to, here

  2. Ambrellite says:

    Of course it’s a threat. Veneuela was responsible for 9/11, and is close to acquiring WMD, and something about yellow cake and Prague….?

    It’s not about oil. It’s never about oil.

  3. der says:

    Maybe another way to put it undermining our oblivious selective choice for sanctions.
    Becoming not only the world’s bully but it’s laughing stock. Yesterday Cotton is a traitor because he’s undermining Obama’s dealing with godless-idol worshipping-satanic Iran, today Obama needs Cotton’s support with undermining godless-socialist-satanic Venezuala.
    Christ, shoot me.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    “….or to have participated in, directly or indirectly,…”
    So if I purchase Citgo gasoline then I’m aiding and abetting, and my bank accounts are frozen, and……who knows? Torture?

  5. ArizonaBumblebee says:

    There are some acronyms that those of us following the New Great Game will need to remember in the months and years to come: EEU, BRICS, SCO, CSTO, AIIB, and CIPS. These institutions are the embryo of a parallel economic/military alliance comprising countries not under the thumb of the American Empire. Meanwhile, China is working diligently to put the Shanghai and Hong Kong markets on a par with those of London and New York and making the renminbi a reserve currency. The days of American economic hegemony are coming to an end, and the sanctions mania of the Obama Administration is only hastening the arrival of that day. The conundrum Germany must resolve is which way to jump. This probably explains why German Chancellor Merkel and her government increasingly are displaying ambivalence toward the Anglo-American posture regarding Ukraine.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. Agree. Our misuse of sanctions, especially the targeting of Russia, is one more straw that will soon break the camel’s back.

    • John Casper says:


      I had to look up a few, hope I got them right.

      EEU, Eurasion Economic Union

      BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

      SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization

      CSTO, Collective Security Treaty Organization

      AIIB, Asian Infrastructre Investment Bank

      CIPS, China International Payment System

  6. Don Bacon says:

    It seems intuitive that the main reason Ukraine happened was a move by the US to halt an impending Russia-EU union, on energy and other matters, which called for sanctions, of course, sanctions that would hurt both Russia and Europe, (as with Iran).
    The US thrives upon instability everywhere in the world which is why it’s unsafe for Americans to travel anywhere in the world.
    And yes, the rest of the world seems to be getting onto this game, with only the UK and France as dependable US allies, and that might change too. The world doesn’t need a leader, especially one which brings instability (while claiming the opposite).

  7. galljdaj says:

    The folks above posting and reporting and responding and living among… . Are ignoring missing sleep waking… thru the instabilities being generated within the USA!

    The Peoples of the USA are being treated the ‘same’ as every country Our Leaders have and are attacking. ‘Austerity’ ‘Torture’ and a host of other evils are walking the Lands. Its the new dark ages boys and girls Wake Up!

    Have you ever heard of ‘austerity for the rich? the 1%? the PNAC? the Bilderbergers? Security for lil bush or lil obama? ‘Its’ all thru the roof!’ Austerity is for the masses. You are nolonger Free People


    Sanctions, in a very real sense, are tantamount to embargoes, blockades. Which makes them ACTS OF WAR.

    So, the USA, under the direction of the former cia operative, barry soetero, has declared war on a number of countries recently. Venezuela is just the latest.

    I think Venezuela is going to have to say this publicly. And then throw out the US legation and all of its employees[just a harbor for spooks]. And suspend all entry to Venezeula by U.S. citizens[because most of them will be spooks]. And perhaps even go further and ban entry to all citizens of NATO countries. They are all up to no good.

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