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26 Sep, 2019 04:57

US sanctions wreak havoc on Venezuela as Washington plays ‘lifesaver’ with aid dollars

US sanctions wreak havoc on Venezuela as Washington plays ‘lifesaver’ with aid dollars

Despite years of devastating US sanctions on Venezuela, White House officials have painted themselves in the role of savior for the country, lavishing favored political operators with millions in aid as average citizens suffer.

Just one day after Washington announced a $52 million aid package for the Venezuelan opposition – pledging “full support” for ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would devote another $119 million in aid for Latin America to assist those who have fled the crisis in Venezuela. A total of $36 million will be set aside for “life-saving programs” in Venezuela itself, and getting citizens “the help they deserve.”

While Pompeo bragged that US spending now totaled around $568 million in the country, he did not attempt to untangle the knot of contradictory American policies imposed on Venezuela – which effectively break the country’s legs, while providing only a flimsy crutch to help it walk again.

Also on rt.com US triples regime-change aid to Guaido, doling out $52mn to restore ‘democratic governance’ in Venezuela

‘Helping’ Venezuela starve?

In late July, the US Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions related to Venezuela. Unlike previous penalties, which largely focused on the energy sector and government officials, these targeted the country’s ability to feed itself. The sanctions were imposed on 13 international companies and 10 individuals involved in a food subsidy program known as CLAP, which provided a home-to-home grocery delivery service.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that the program constituted a “corruption network” which used “food as a form of social control,” though he did not explain how destroying the program with sanctions would help Venezuelans to eat.

Weeks later, in early August – soon after President Trump said he was considering an outright “blockade” on the country – Washington seized a foreign vessel in the Panama Canal carrying a reported 25,000 tons of food aid destined for Venezuela, which Caracas slammed as “serious aggression.”

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An analysis published in April by economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), moreover, found that American sanctions may have contributed to up to 40,000 excess deaths in Venezuela since 2017. While the economists cautioned that it is difficult to precisely quantify the role of US sanctions in the excess death rate – especially given socialist Venezuela’s pre-existing economic woes – they said the sanctions were “virtually certain” to have made a “substantial contribution” to the grim figure.

Venezuela’s political opposition – to whom many millions in aid have already been disbursed – have also proven to be less-than-honest brokers when it comes to the fate of US funds. In June, officials in opposition leader Guaido’s Popular Will Party were accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands in aid dollars, which they blew on high-end hotels, expensive clothes, alcohol and other luxury items. The US continues to dump millions into the opposition regardless.

Also on rt.com US-backed Venezuela opposition caught embezzling ‘humanitarian aid’ cash

While Washington poses as Latin America’s liberator and claims to want nothing less than to end the suffering of the average Venezuelan, US “soft power” policies continue to grind the country’s economy into the dirt and inflict pain on its populace. Some “help.”

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