US Senate passes resolution calling on Trump to escalate regime-change in Venezuela
By Alexander Fangmann, WSWS with editing by Axis of Logic
World Socialist Web Site
Thursday, Mar 16, 2017
|In case you haven't noticed, the US government thinks foreign countries all belong to the United States and must do the bidding of US corporations or risk being taken over by the US. They are such friendly neighbours.
On March 1, the United States Senate passed a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to escalate measures against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. These moves are part of a concerted effort by American imperialism to oust the ruling chavistas and replace them with a right-wing regime more aligned with American interests.
While cast as a call for the restoration of democratic governance, with some clauses of the resolution calling for the release of jailed right-wing politicians such as Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, and others calling on the Maduro government to respect freedom of assembly and expression, and the constitutional separation of powers, the essential content of the resolution’s demands is that Maduro hand over the reins of government to the opposition or face more overt efforts at regime change from Washington.
This is all the more obvious given the resolution’s expression of support for the efforts of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to invoke the so-called Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS, which could lead to a suspension of Venezuela from that organization on the basis of a breakdown of constitutional norms.
The resolution also urges Trump to “instruct appropriate Federal agencies to hold officials of the Government of Venezuela accountable for violations of United States law and abuses of internationally recognized human rights,” code for an expansion of sanctions and other penalties against Venezuela, which is already reeling from an economic crisis brought on by the dramatic fall in oil prices since 2014.
Truly a bipartisan effort, the resolution’s lead sponsor was Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking member of the Senate’s foreign relations committee. Other co-sponsors for the resolution were Republicans Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Roy Blount, Cory Gardner and David Purdue.
Co-sponsors from the Democrats were Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Bill Nelson and Tim Kaine. Underscoring both parties’ unity of purpose when it comes to Venezuela, the resolution was passed by unanimous consent.
Indeed, one of Barack Obama’s last acts as president was the early renewal of an executive order declaring a national emergency due to the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” posed by Venezuela. The executive order allows sanctions to be applied against Venezuelan officials, which Trump has since done to Vice President Tareck El Aissami and one of his close associates, businessman Samark López, on the basis of alleged narcotics trafficking.
No doubt a significant basis for the ratcheting up of US hostility toward Venezuela has been the latter’s increasing trade relationship with China, second now only to its commercial ties to the US. With US imperialism setting itself on a collision course with Beijing, it is looking to close China out of a strategic foothold in Latin America and to bring the entire region in line with the drive to war, an effort that has been helped by the dramatic decline in the price of oil and other commodities caused by the decline in China’s economic growth.
Approximately 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings come from the oil industry. With prices dropping from over $100 per barrel in 2014 to around $50, the country’s revenues have fallen accordingly. On top of that, production has also decreased, estimated at 2.25 million barrels per day, down from 2.4 million in 2015 and 3 million in 2009, though still higher than a recently agreed OPEC target of 1.972 million barrels per day.
According to documents obtained by Reuters, Venezuela is even behind on oil shipments to China, having missed 27 shipments—nearly 9 million barrels—by the end of January. The country is also past due on 18 shipments to Russia totaling 4 million barrels.
The Venezuelan working class is struggling with the downward turn of the country's income. The last thing needed, however, is for the US government to stick its nose in - ensuring that US corporations are able to squeeze every possible dollar, legitimate or not, from foreign sovereign states is designed solely to ensure that the working class in those countries get screwed over more than the working class in the US.
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