Trump imposes new sanctions on a Venezuela already ruined by Maduro’s austerity

By Venezuelan Voices

On the 5th of august, the US government announced a new executive order signed by Trump in which new economic sanctions are imposed on an already impoverished Venezuela. By this legal measure, all Venezuelan state assets are blocked and transactions with them are prohibited. The only other country under a similar embargo in the western hemisphere is Cuba.

The new sanctions aim at destroying what’s left of the Venezuelan economy, which already shrank by more than half in the last five years due to the severe cuts in imports and national production resulting from Maduro’s decision to apply a brutal adjustment plan in order to meet foreign debt payments in the midst of falling oil prices. Seven months ago, as the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, claimed to be the interim president, Trump supported this claim and imposed a total ban on oil imports from Venezuela. Through this economic pressure, as well as the threats of military action, Trump’s government hopes to gain electoral support from right wing sectors in the state of Florida in the next presidential elections as well as to take advantage of the disastrous situation into which chavismo has degenerated, intervening heavily to define the political future of Venezuela. A week before announcing the embargo, Trump said to a reporter that a full blockade against the South American country was considered as an option.

In the last five years, more than four million Venezuelans have fled hyperinflation, a tremendous economic depression, the highest murder rates per capita in the world, and a dictatorial regime that persecutes unions and autonomous popular organizations. Trying to capitalize on popular discontent, Guaido and his center-right party Popular Will are completely at the orders of the US government. However, their own popular support has been undermined by corruption scandals related to the handling of humanitarian aid money in Colombia as well as by the discovery of links with the Canadian company Crystallex which is currently suing the Venezuelan state in US courts and demanding the confiscation of Citgo, a Venezuelan state owned company. As the new sanctions were announced, sparking fears of an acceleration of the economic decay, Guaido applauded Trump and said the sanctions had the goal of “protecting the venezuelan people”.

In response to the embargo, Maduro withdrew from the negotiations with the parliamentary opposition in Barbados sponsored by the Norwegian government. However nothing close to an antiimperialist measure was announced by Maduro in response to the embargo, only that signatures would be gathered and delivered to the UN as a protest. Big American oil companies like Chevron, Halliburton and Schlumberger continue to exploit Venezuelan oil under contracts given to them by chavismo.

The Freedom and Socialism Party (PSL), which is part of the Venezuelan left opposition, has rejected these new measures against Venezuela by the US government. Advocating for independent working class and popular mobilizations against Maduro, they “repudiate these interference and sanctions by US imperialism”, affirming that they will not affect the high ranks of the Venezuelan government but rather aggravate the hyperinflation, the decadence in public services and the destruction of the wages, making life more miserable for the majority of the population.

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