Violating International Law, Trump Renews Venezuela Sanctions

It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. President Trump issued an executive order
on Friday renewing sanctions against Venezuela. As required by law, the executive order states
that Venezuela continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security
and foreign policy of the United States. The sanctions renewal comes a day after the
Venezuelan government announced it reached an agreement with all presidential candidates
to postpone the presidential elections from April 22 to May 20. Despite this agreement, most opposition parties
continue to call for a boycott. They say that not enough of their demands
have been met, such as the appointment of a new national electoral council. Joining me now to discuss the Trump administration’s
effort to stop the presidential elections in Venezuela is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is the co-director of the Center for
Economic Policy and Research and is the author of Failed: What Experts Got Wrong About the
Global Economy. He joins us from Washington, D.C.. Thanks for joining us, Mark. Thanks for having me, Sharmini. Mark, the Trump administration says sanctions
are because Venezuela poses a threat to the US. That threat is described how by the United
States? Well, he’s read it in the statement. It’s described as an unusual and extraordinary
threat to the national security of the United States. They don’t really try to make that case. That is, as you said, that’s required by law
to issue such an executive order for sanctions. There’s a reason that’s in the law. It’s because you’re not supposed to do that
just because you don’t like a government and under international law, of course, the sanctions
are violating international law. The OAS charter, for example, the Hague conventions
that the US is a signatory to also are violated by that. So, in other words, that language is there
because you’re really not supposed to do it unless there really is some kind of really
severe national security threat to your own country. And of course, nobody can really make that
case. All right, Mark. So, with the absence of the threat, the other
main reason for the sanctions apparently is that they believe, that means the US believes,
that the presidential election and the vote will be illegitimate. Is there any reason to believe that the elections
will be illegitimate or fraudulent? First of all, I don’t really know what they
believe, but I think they want us to believe that the elections are illegitimate because
they’ve been trying to overthrow the government. Of course, that’s been true of the Bush and
Obama administrations as well. The Trump administration is different in they
openly admit it. Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, is the
one who’s really deciding policy for the Trump administration, according to the people very
high up in that administration. And so, he said openly that the military should
overthrow the government. The secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, also
said when he was in South America just recently, he basically said the same thing. So, they’re not even trying to hide it. And then, of course, they’ve imposed these
financial sanctions on the country, which make it impossible for the economy to recover
while those sanctions are in effect, not completely impossible but almost impossible because it
prevents them from borrowing or from restructuring their debt, which are both conditions they
would need to have an economic recovery. So, it’s really an attempt, they don’t want
anybody to believe these elections are real but the problem they’re running into is that
there is a credible opposition candidate, a former governor, a retired military officer,
Henri Falcón, who is running. And he’s reached an agreement and it’s not
just him, he’s got a couple of parties backing him. He’s also polling the best of any opposition,
or really any candidate. In fact, the latest most reliable polls show
that he would probably beat Maduro, they say, by a margin of 7 or 8 percentage points. So, it’s a credible candidate and yet they
don’t want this to happen. The Trump administration doesn’t want this
to happen. And they have allies in the extreme opposition
who also are going along with it so far. Mark, you mentioned Henri Falcón. Now, you published an article in US News & World
Report, in which you had some pretty explosive information. You state that Trump administration is threatening
the main candidate opposing President Maduro and that is Henri Falcón. Tell us what these threats consist of and
a little bit more about Henri Falcón’s background. Falcón was told by US officials that if he
entered the race for president, he could be the recipient of financial sanctions against
him personally. And he entered the race anyway. He’s a former governor and retired military
officer. He was in the government or with the government
until 2010 and then for the last eight years, he’s been in the opposition. He’s more of a moderate than some of the other
opposition leaders, who are boycotting the election. Mark, how did you come across this information
that Falcón was being threatened by the United States? Well, that was from a source who had knowledge
of the conversation. I can’t really say who that was because they
wouldn’t put their name on it but there isn’t any doubt about it, and it should be, there
are other reporters from major news outlets that are also looking into it now and will
probably report it, I assume. Mark, why is the Trump administration so intent
on preventing a presidential election that the opposition has been demanding and calling
for for a couple of years now? I think the Trump strategy is regime change. They want to overthrow the government. Their strategy has been to try and make the
economy and worse and through the financial sanctions especially so that people will get
into the streets and topple the government. Now, why wouldn’t they want to have this kind
of an election? You’d have to ask them that but if I were
to guess, I would say they want their people in there. They want somebody who owes their allegiance
to them. And they want a government, if you look at
one of the differences between Falcón and the rest of the opposition is he is less likely
to endorse a kind of violent retribution and political persecution of the government and
their supporters than the other opposition leaders that the Trump administration is close
to. I think that’s one major difference is whether
there’s going to be a negotiated solution that protects all sides. You have a third of the electorate, about
6 million people who support the government. And you have many people who of course have
been part of the government. And so, you have to have some kind of guarantees
and I think they don’t want that. Finally, Mark, what comparisons can you make
in terms of these elections that are about to take place in Venezuela and the ones that
took place in Honduras not too long ago? Well, there’s no real comparison. The Honduran elections, nobody really believes
that those were honest. They were quite obviously stolen, as you know
from all the shows that you’ve, reports that you’ve had on it. And in Venezuela, you’ve had elections now
under this political party in power under Chávez first and under Maduro. There really has never been any doubt about
the vote count in any of the contested elections. There was one uncontested election for the
constituent assembly, where there were some doubts raised and you don’t really know for
sure what the vote count was because there weren’t opposition participation and opposition
observers. But all the contested elections, the vote
count was never in doubt with the exception of one governor’s race recently out of 23,
where there was probably some kind of cheating done at the local level. But really, you’ve had a very, very secure
vote count for just about all of the last 20 years. So, that’s completely different from Honduras,
its completely different from Mexico. There’s a lot of countries where, in South
America, there’s all kinds of vote buying and ballot stuffing that really goes far beyond
anything that you’ve seen in Venezuela. All right, Mark. I thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you. And thank you for joining us here on The Real
News Network.

  1. Sanctions should be declared war crimes, at minimum it is a crime against humanity. The US has always just been bully of the world.

  2. Little Marco is running things in the Trump administration? HA HA HA HA HA HA! THAT is the most absurd thing I have heard in quite some time!

  3. The US is the biggest violator of international law. Americans are the least informed persons on earth given the news media.

  4. How the mighty US Empire has fallen! They are now threatened by supposedly "failing socialist country" Venezuela! As for the so-called "opposition" – they are boycotting the election because they know they will lose. Just like all the other "opposition parties" the USA supports around the world (meddling in their elections!!!), they can never win by a free and fair election – the only time they ever make it to power is when the real government is overthrown by foreign invasion or destabilisation through terrorists/sanctions/bombings. It is no coincidence that the kinds of people the USA usually supports in foreign countries are very unpopular – would you support someone who was trying to ruin your country financially and asking for military attacks? They should really be shot as traitors, but Maduro isn't a real communist so he won't do that.

  5. Only the USA can literally compare two identical situations in nearby countries and call them different: for example, Honduras vs Venezuela, Mosul/Raqqa vs Allepo/Ghouta . To be a firm supporter of US imperialism you need to be able to believe black is white if the US government tells you so.

  6. Venezuela has said no to the petro dollar there is only one way this ends. It's the same way as anyone who has wanted to get away from it. Hussain gaddafi Assad. We've been doing the same thing over and over. First they are called dictators then there are opposition and media against him then they manufacture descent and Activism through sanctions until they have to destroy the country for democracy. If you don't get this by now you are probably not on this channel.

  7. Any oil producer that doesn't obey will be destroyed if possible. The Late Stages Of A Dying Empire.

  8. ©™ ALX 🌍 Armed 🔫 Liberation ⛓ Xecutive 🕶 Observation ✍✍
    Blatant attempt to destabilize Venezuela's government.

  9. Venezuela a threat???????????????? Only a snowflake shithole president could even make such a STUPID claim.

  10. The opposition called for a boycott because not enough of their demands have been met what is because not enough people will vote for them to win and they know that. They can't win fair and square so they're going to try to claim unfair elections that they refused to participate in. It's ridiculous

  11. see, again, i think this is actual fairly transparent.

    the united states doesn't want a change in government in venezuela at all.

    now, let's remember who the real enemy here is: panama – with their men, and their plans…they seek to undermine the revolution…

  12. I offer anybody who supports the Venezuelan Government to private message me to arrange them staying in my house in Venezuela. I left 2 years ago because I couldnt stand living in the results of failed chavez policies and living in fear. My house has been robbed 3 times, its on the border of Caracas. Anyone who wants to stay there to see what its really like in Venezuela can. It sickens me that people side with not only a corrupt government that made most of us hungry and scared to survive another day, but the state oppression if we dare protest it outside. Who cares what the US wants for corporation interest? You dont side with another evil to defeat the other. You all sicken me, I want you to see it, message me and you can stay for free at your own risk.

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