The Donald Trump administration announced new, unprecedented sanctions against Venezuela on August 25 that are designed to cut off financing to Venezuela. The Trump team pretends that the sanctions are only directed at the government. But as any economist knows, this is clearly false.
By starving the economy of foreign exchange, this action will harm the private sector, most Venezuelans, the poor and the vulnerable.
These sanctions will deepen the severe depression that Venezuela’s economy has been in for more than three and a half years, which has already shrunk income per person by more than a third. They will worsen the shortages of food and essential medicines.
They will exacerbate the country’s balance of payments crisis, and therefore feed the spiral of inflation (600% over the past year) and depreciation of the currency (on the black market) that has been accelerating since late 2012.
And they will further polarise an already divided country.
Opposition leaders who support the sanctions, or are associated with them because of their longstanding ties to the United States, will be seen as treasonous — much as Republicans in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, are portrayed by those who believe they collaborated with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.
Trump’s sanctions are also illegal under both US and international law. They violate the charter of the Organization of American States (Chapter 4, Article 19) and other international treaties that the US has signed.
To comply with US law, the president also has to lie and say that US citizens are suffering from a “national emergency” due to an “unusual and extraordinary…
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