Since 2014 and beginning with Public Law 113-278 passed by Congress, the neoliberal government of the United States in collusion with other western states have waged a campaign of economic warfare against Venezuelan citizens through a series of illegal sanctions.
Also referred to as unilateral coercive measures, this economic blockade was deepened by both Presidents Obama and Trump and has remained untouched by the current Biden Administration. The United States government under various regimes has passed overall three Acts of Congress, a total of seven executive orders (13692, 13808, 13827, 13835, 13850, 13857 and 13884), and 66 administrative acts applying deep restrictions to public and private commerce and the ability for working class Venezuelans to attain basic food and medical supplies. Part of these restrictions include the freezing of Venezuelan assets overseas including Venezuelan gold held in the Bank of England valued at $1.3 billion dollars.
Illegal sanctions against Venezuelans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated many of the public service systems that have been in place to provide basic needs.
The blockade against Venezuela has resulted in government revenues to have been cut by a staggering 99% and the country is now living on 1% of its pre-sanctions income. By specifically targeting oil profits, US-imposed illegal sanctions supported by European countries have eliminated “nearly all of the foreign exchange needed to import medicine, food, medical equipment, spare parts and equipment needed for electricity generation, water systems, or transportation.” This has had a devastating impact on Venezuelan life in the following ways:
Health and essential public services: Because the Venezuelan government is unable to fund many of its core public services such as health care, some of the gains of the socialist Bolivarian revolution have been rolled back and approximately 40,000 of Venezuelans died between 2027 and 2018 due to the impacts of illegal sanctions prior to the impact of COVID-19. The Children’s Cardiology Hospital in Caracas faces 5 times the decrease of the number of surgeries (from an average of 1,000 interventions annually in the period 2010–2014 to 162 in 2020), up to 70% of medical staff positions are vacant, and the shortage of HIV tests and treatment with an estimated 80,000 people have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017.
Education: In June and July of 2021, DSA delegates to Venezuela saw first-hand the impacts Illegal sanctions have had on Canaima Industries, one of the primary technological engines for providing free, quality education to all Venezuelan youth. Prior to illegal sanctions, Canaima Industries was able to produce 10 million computer units for students in a country with a general population of less than 30 million people. Now Canaima is at 10% capacity and has switched focus to repairing neonatal incubators to counter the impact illegal sanctions have had on child mortality.
Women and children: In 2012, Venezuelans had completely free access to safe and quality contraceptives as private and public health networks were subsidized up to 70% by the government. The US-backed blockade has led to a shortage of contraceptives and as a result, a drastic increase in prices, meaning many working class Venezuelan women can no longer afford them. Not only have illegal sanctions made contraceptives difficult to find and prohibitively expensive, effects have led to an increase in teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and maternal mortality.
The Democratic Socialists of America commits its unwavering support in the fight against illegal sanctions by the United States and any other form of economic warfare against the country of Venezuela. We urge the UN General Assembly to debate these criminal acts with fidelity and outside the influence of the United States. We not only demand an immediate end to illegal sanctions but immediate reparations to every Venezuelan who has been impacted by this devastating form of warfare.