Challenging political and economic sanctions by the U.S.A: The case of Zimbabwe and Venezuela

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognised as the country's rightful interim ruler, speaks from on top of a vehicle during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas

Sanctions represent a middle ground in international politics, being more severe than mere verbal condemnation, but less severe than the use of force. In accordance with Article 41 of the charter of the United Nations, authority to impose sanctions lies exclusively with the Security Council. Regional organisations are authorised under Article 52 to “achieve pacific settlement of local disputes” without express permission of the Security Council, “provided that…their activities are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations”.

In practice, sanctions have comprised a wide range of actions, from economic embargoes to restrictions on participation in the Olympic games. Here is a brief classification of sanctions: economic, travel, military, diplomatic or cultural. Trade sanctions restrict imports and exports to and from the target country. Comprehensive trade sanctions are the target of the current criticism of sanctions regimes, because of the humanitarian crises that have erupted in countries against which such sanctions have been imposed. Financial sanctions address monetary issues. They can include blocking governmental assets held abroad, limiting access to financial markets and restricting loans and credits, restricting international transfer payments and restricting the sale and trade of property abroad. Governments will be unable to pay for imports, and trade will suffer.

Travel sanctions can include both sanctions against the travel of certain individuals or groups and sanctions against certain kinds of air transport.Bans on certain types of air travel include the current ban on taking off or landing of any aircraft owned, leased or operated by or on behalf of the Taliban, established by the Security Council in its resolution 1267 (1999). Military sanctions may include arms embargoes or the termination of military assistance or training. This may also include the denial to sale military equipment to a country. Diplomatic sanctions directly target the rulers of a sanctioned State. Other steps towards diplomatic isolation include the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel and international organizations from the target country. Finally, cultural sanctions, while having less of a negative impact than other forms of sanctions, can still have undesired results

Having highlighted the different categories of sanctions, I will now turn to challenge the notion of sanctions as applied by the USA Empire. First, there are many instances in our contemporary history when sanctions have been applied unilaterally as a tool for regime change by the USA Empire and its Zionist entity. There are lots of examples to draw from. From Iraq to Zimbabwe, Cuba, and now to the drama that is currently unfolding in Venezuela. Second, sanctions according to international law is a prerogative of the collective called the UN Security Council. It is never an issue of one individual country to go about pronouncing sanctions for their own selfish means.

For instance, in the case of Zimbabwe, the negotiations that led to a settlement of the protracted Rhodesian war that pitted the freedom fighters from ZANU-PF (ZANLA) and PF-ZAPU (ZIPRA) which later united and merged into ZANU-PF, was a bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain. When the independent nation of Zimbabwe sought to address this historical imbalance, which was skewed in favour of 4000 white commercial farmers who owned about 70% of arable farmland, the USA Empire joined in support of the British stance and imposed sanctions unilaterally on the Southern African nation.

The economic sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe is tantamount to “terrorism”. They were designed to foment an uprising like the kind that is currently unfolding in Venezuela that have seen the country’s economy crumbling and has brought a lot of untold suffering to the ordinary people. What the USA Empire had in mind was obviously regime change. They tried to prop up the MDC party and many civic organisations by funding them to the tune of billions of dollars, but it failed. The liberation party ZANU-PF prevailed and thanks to the resilience of the people of Zimbabwe. Just last week, President Trump again renewed these terrible sanctions even though the country held an election that was considered fair and credible by many international observers.

The same scenario that happened in Zimbabwe is being repeated in Venezuela by the USA Empire and its Zionist friends. The USA imposition of sanctions on Venezuela is not something recent. When Hugo Chavez rose to power in Venezuela, he chose a path of total political and economic independence for his country, a development that did not go down well with the USA Empire.

The Empire and its Zionist allies have been eyeing the vast oil resources that Venezuela has and have been seeking to control for their own benefit. What many people do not know is that, when Mr Trump came into power, he imposed sanctions on Venezuela as a prelude to regime change. It is important to note that these sanctions are not UN sanctions, but are unilateral in nature, which makes them illegal. Surely, the people of Venezuela will resist this latest plot by the USA Empire. The economic terrorism imposed by the US empire will be defeated.

Lastly, in the light of the above, I would like to challenge the notion and definition of democracy as is being peddled that it is “governance of the people, by the people and with the people” to “governance for the people, with the elite by the elite”. Africa must wake up!


Dr Mustafa Bothwell Mheta has a PhD in Semitic Languages and Cultures from the University of Johannesburg, Department of Religion Studies. He is also a Researcher at the  Media Review Network.