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  • Rally in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, London, U.K, Feb. 2020.

    Rally in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, London, U.K, Feb. 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @PopResistance

Published 26 June 2020
Opinion

Besides violating the international legal framework, these sanctions hurt basic human rights.

Latin Americans residing in Belgium are leading the "European Campaign for the Suspension of Sanctions against Venezuela". Below is an open letter they published on Friday:

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The unilateral coercive measures implemented and deepened by President Trump against the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are illegal and unjustified. Furthermore, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these sanctions become inhumane measures that undermine the effort made at the international level to overcome the difficult situation.

The sanctions will threaten the lives of many ordinary Venezuelans and will further deny Venezuela access to food, medicine, and vital health supplies.

Internationally, a wide range of voices has called on the U.S. to abandon this approach of increasingly punitive sanctions against Venezuela.

Among those voices are Pope Francis I, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the EU's High Representative Josep Borrell, U.S. senators, numerous Latin American governments, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Trade Union Confederation of Workers of the Americas (CSA), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), and many national union federations such as the General Union of Workers (UGT), the Workers' Commissions (CCOO), the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP). Venezuelan political parties, which are both for and against the government, have spoken in the same sense.

In a letter to Mike Pompeo and the United States Treasury Department, eleven U.S. senators noted that while sanctioned countries like Venezuela "are struggling to respond to their internal health crises, the U.S. sanctions are hampering free movement of desperately needed medical and humanitarian supplies due to the broad crippling effect of sanctions on those transactions, even when there are technical exemptions. ”

As is well known, U.S. economic sanctions, which are illegal under international law, are actually unilateral coercive measures imposed by the Trump administration on Venezuela.

Besides violating the UN Charter and the international legal framework, these sanctions hurt the enjoyment of human rights, civil rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. All this is further accentuated amidst the global expansion of COVID-19.

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During the videoconference "unilateral coercive measures, weapons of mass destruction", that was one of the main proposals raised by Alfred de Zayas, the first UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.

The U.S. sanctions have devastated Venezuela's economy, creating food and medicine shortages, impoverishing this nation, and forcing many Venezuelans to leave their country.

Instead of sanctions, the Venezuelan people need help and constructive dialogue. Spain’s Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha Gonzalez, whose government strongly supports that sanctioned countries be allowed to purchase medicines and other health supplies to fight the pandemic, said a moving truth: “Until we are all safe, no one is safe.”

Now is the time for international cooperation and humanitarianism in the fight against COVID-19 and its devastating effects worldwide.

As signatories to this statement, we join the growing number of international voices demanding that U.S. sanctions be suspended immediately.

The creation of the INSTEX trade mechanism set a precedent for the suspension of sanctions for the acquisition of vital supplies to save the lives of thousands of human beings. On March 31, 2020, this special purpose vehicle allowed for the first transaction of medical material with Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19. In the current circumstances, this fact sets a very important precedent.

We request that all financial institutions that illegally withhold resources belonging to the Venezuelan state and people be identified, which is a direct consequence of the extraterritoriality of U.S. sanctions.

We demand that these resources be immediately and unconditionally restored to their rightful owner through INSTEX. We also request that this special purpose vehicle be used to carry out the transactions required by Venezuela related to food, medicine, and health supplies.

The following is a list of illegally held resources and withholding banks:

European banks:

  • Novo Banco, Portugal, US$1,547,322,175
  • Bank of England (Gold), United Kingdom, US$1,323,228,162
  • Clearstream (Debt securities), United Kingdom, US$517,088,580
  • Euroclear (Titles), Belgium, US$140,519,752
  • Banque Eni, Belgium, US$53,084,499
  • Delubac, Belgium, US$38,698,931

Non-European banks: 

  • Sumitomo, United States, US$507,506,853
  • Citibank, United States, US$458,415,178
  • Unionbank, United States, US$230,024,462
  • Other banks and financial institutions in 17 countries: US$654,142,049

If you want to express your support, please send email to nosanciones@gmail.com

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