Australian solidarity activists are calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to demand the United States lift its sanctions on Venezuela and rule out any military intervention in the South American country.
Federico Fuentes, co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions and co-convenor of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, said: “It is well known that Venezuela is passing through the worst economic crisis in its history.
“While focus has been placed on falling international oil prices and economic mismanagement by the Nicolas Maduro government, little attention has been paid to the devastating effect that US sanctions have had in deepening the misery of the Venezuelan people.
“If we just take the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration in 2017, which made it illegal for the Venezuelan government to obtain financing from US institutions or individuals, studies show its effects have been to deprived Venezuela of US$6 billion — 5% of the government’s nominal GDP.
“The biggest effect of these sanctions has been to cripple the Venezuelan state oil company — the country’s main source of income to be able to import food and medicines.
“Now, the Trump administration has announced a new round of sanctions that will see Venezuela lose another $11 billion in exports this year alone while freezing another $7 billion in assets.
“These are criminal actions, of which the biggest victims are the already suffering Venezuelan people.”
Fuentes continued: “On top of this, the Trump administration has said it won’t rule out a war with Venezuela and is openly supporting a coup attempt led by Juan Guaido, who has self-proclaimed himself Venezuela’s ‘interim president’.
“These actions have only deepen political turmoil in what is already one of the most polarised countries in the world.”
On the Australian government, Fuentes said: “By refusing to denounce these action, and instead going along with them, Australia has squarely placed itself on the side of those urging violence to generate instability for their own political ends.
“If Australia is serious about playing a positive role in the crisis, it must start by immediately withdrawing its recognition of Guaidó, an unelected and unconstitutional ‘interim president’ who has rejected calls for dialogue, called on the army to carry out a coup and ruled out any possible elections for at least 8-10 months.
“Instead, it should call on the US to lift its sanctions, and join with countries such as Uruguay and Mexico that are promoting dialogue and negotiations as the only possible peaceful solution to the crisis.”