US Sanctions Killed Over 40,000 Venezuelans Since 2017

Demonstrators stand outside the entrance of the embassy of Venezuela in Washington, U.S., April 25, 2019. (PHOTO: Reuters)

President Donald Trump’s economic sanctions against Venezuela are affecting not only President Nicolas Maduro’s administration but also the civilian population after over 40,000 deaths were reported in a new study released Thursday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

“The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food and other essential imports,” said Mark Weisbrot, the CEPR Co-Director and co-author of the report. “This is illegal under international laws and treaties that the U.S. has signed. Congress should move to stop it.”

The authors affirmed that the sanctions “would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well.”

The Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela study was also co-written by Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned economist and professor at Columbia University, and a former director of the Harvard Institute for International Development at the Kennedy School of Government.

Besides pointing out that the U.S. actions have been rapidly worsening the humanitarian crisis, the CEPR study notes that a new set of financial and trade sanctions have been deployed to devastate the Venezuelan economy since the U.S. recognized self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido’s parallel government in January 2019.

“Venezuela’s economic crisis is routinely blamed all on Venezuela, but it is much more than that. U.S. sanctions are deliberately aiming to wreck Venezuela’s economy and thereby lead to regime change,” Sachs explained.  “It’s a fruitless, heartless, illegal and failed policy, causing grave harm to the Venezuelan people,” the authors wrote.

Nevertheless, by prohibiting international transactions with the Bolivarian government, the United States has “efficiently” affected Venezuela’s oil production, which can be clearly seen when a correlation is drawn between oil production levels and the dates when the sanctions went into effect.

The loss of oil-based incomes has prevented the Venezuelan government from not only improving the country’s balance of payments but also buying food and medicines at international markets.

“Since the January 2019 sanctions, oil production has fallen by 431,000 barrels per day or 36.4 percent. This will greatly accelerate the humanitarian crisis, but the projected 67 percent decline in oil production for the year, if the sanctions continue, would cause vastly more loss of human life,” the report warned.‌

The CEPR report also reveals that Venezuela’s economic contraction is clearly not a “natural fact” but rather a consequence of the current U.S. foreign policy, which represents a “very serious harm to human life and health.”

“The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans,” the Weisbrot & Sachs study denounces.

CEPR estimated U.S. actions since August 2017 prompted more than 40,000 deaths. That figure is based on an estimated 80,000 people with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017; 16,000 people who need dialysis; 16,000 people with cancer and 4 million with diabetes and hypertension, many of whom cannot obtain insulin or cardiovascular medicine.


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