Originally published on March 10, 2015
Source: The Nation
Yesterday, Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress announcing that he was applying the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to Venezuela, declaring the “situation” there to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Washington named seven Venezuelan politicians as targeted by the act, their property in the US liable to seizure.
It’s a serious step taken with extraordinarily strong language (as the head of the Organization of American States pointed out; “very harsh,” he said). Reuters writes: “Declaring any country a threat to national security is the first step in starting a U.S. sanctions program. The same process has been followed with countries such as Iran and Syria, U.S. officials said.”
Set aside the irony (within hours of an administration spokesperson’s accusing Venezuela of criticizing other nations in order to distract from its problems, New Jersey’s soon-to-be-indicted senator Robert Menendez applauded the sanctions), the hypocrisy (forget Saudi Arabia, think of Mexico or Colombia), or the hyperbole (an “extraordinary threat”?). It’s hard to figure out what the White House hopes to accomplish with this move. It will achieve exactly the opposite of its stated intention to isolate Caracas.