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  • People shout slogans during a march to express support for Venezuela in Havana, Cuba, August 25, 2017.

    People shout slogans during a march to express support for Venezuela in Havana, Cuba, August 25, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 August 2017

Economist Mark Weisbrot warned that U.S. economic sanctions often precede military interventions, “as in Nicaragua and Iraq.”

The latest round of sanctions against Venezuela by the United States are “severe” on a level never seen before, making U.S. President Donald Trump’s cursory threats of military intervention against the Bolivarian state highly plausible, warned Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC.

Venezuela Rejects ‘Hostile’ US Sanctions, Vows Response

The economist, in an interview with teleSUR, described the sanctions as “broader” than previous measures, saying they will strike the country’s financial sector, massively impacting its revenue.

“It’s basically very severe sanctions, the kind that I don't remember ever being used, except in cases like Iran or Russia … and there really isn't any justification for them,” Weisbrot said.

Weisbrot explained that while support for past U.S. sanctions on Pyongyang or Tehran was drummed up through the “threat” of their respective nuclear programs, in Venezuela, that reason doesn’t stand.

“In the case of Venezuela there isn't anything except (that) the Trump administration wants to overthrow the government,” he pressed.

“I mean there's no ambiguity anymore. Anyone who's been paying attention knows that the United States has been trying to get rid of the Venezuelan government for the past 15 years,” he added.

The economist also warned that, as the history of the United States reflects, economic sanctions are often followed by military interventions, “such as in the case of Nicaragua and Iraq.”

“There’s a whole history of military intervention against countries the United States is trying to overthrow,” he said.

The order, which mirrors former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2015 executive order that placed sanctions on Venezuela after declaring the country an “extraordinary and unusual threat”, could, Weisbrot predicted, affect normal transactions Venezuela needs for trade, “in oil and everything else … so it could be very severe.”

“Any sanctions will make things worse … it will mean more shortages, more scarcities of food and medicine … and it'll be much worse if these sanctions really stick,” he added.

The latest sanctions ban the trading of Venezuelan debt and prevents the country's state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, from selling new bonds to U.S. citizens or financial groups.

Venezuela Will Increase 'Anti-Imperialist Defense' Against Threats from the US: Maduro

The sanctions also comes weeks after Trump issued a military threat against Venezuela.

“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump had told reporters.

“A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

The Venezuelan President also responded to the order by saying that it “intends to create an economic blockade against Venezuela,” before calling for an urgent meeting with U.S. companies that Venezuela sells oil to.

“We are indestructible and invincible. No one will stop Venezuela. Let the imperialists know this,” he declared.

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