Latin America in brief: Venezuela rejects sanction, economic coup; Ecuador, CELAC readicate poverty

Venezuela rejects new US sanctions

The Venezuelan government rejected aggressive new US-imposed sanctions on February 3, TeleSUR English said that day, insisting the measures flout international law.

Venezuela's foreign ministry said in a statement: “The people of Venezuela ratifies its independence and sovereignty. We do not recognise … interference of any kind by foreign powers.”

It accused the US of “violating the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and non-interference in the internal affairs inherent in international law”.

Caracas said the US decision, taken on February 2, “contravenes the will of all governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean”. This was a reference to the January 28-29 Community of Latin America and Caribbean States summit that expressed its “deep rejection” of such unilateral US actions.

It drew attention to decisions by two other regional bodies, Mercosur and UNASUR, which have both urged the US government to refrain from unilateral sanctions that “do not contribute to stability, social peace and democracy”.

Maduro announces moves against economic coup

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addressed the nation on January 26, TeleSUR English said that day, reiterating the government’s commitment to overcome right-wing destabilisation plans.

“We're going to create a pilot plan to overcome the economic war in … Caracas and Miranda [state], with particular strategies for this region,” Maduro said.

The president said key social sector leaders and security forces were invited to attend a January 27 meeting to develop strategies to crack down on speculative pricing, hoarding and other forms of economic warfare.

Representatives from communal councils, youth groups, grassroots activists from the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and various state security and military bodies were invited.

Maduro pledged his administration would deepen efforts to tackle food scarcity, and ensure basic consumer products are available to ordinary Venezuelans. The government said scarcity and inflation are being fuelled by attempts by the opposition and business leaders to destabilise the country.

“We are reviewing everything with respect to our offensive against this economic coup,” he said.

Maduro said that this year the government would build 400,000 new homes as part of the nationwide Great Housing Mission. He added that 734,000 infrastructure related jobs would also be created.

Maduro thanked the Venezuelan people and their efforts to overcome this economic coup against the democratically elected government.

CELAC pledges to eliminate poverty, following Ecuador's lead

At the January 28-29 Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC) summit, regional leaders committed to eliminating extreme poverty in five years, TeleSUR English said on February 2.

In a February 2 interview with the Ecuadorean newspaper El Telegrafo, Ecuador's Coordinating Minister for Social Development Cecilia Vaca said the region is living in a different era and it could show the world what its priorities are and how they can be accomplished.

Ecuador has taken over the temporary presidency of TeleSUR for the coming year from Costa Rica.

“I am convinced that [the elimination of] poverty in a rich region such as ours is a question of political will,” said Vaca. She added that to end poverty, CELAC member states must prioritise investment in health and education, and implement strategies to create dignified jobs.

Vaca also drew a link to the fight against extreme poverty and the decision of CELAC to declare Latin America and the Caribbean a region of peace, saying: “We cannot talk about peace while 68 million Latin Americans and Caribbeans live in extreme poverty, because that is also a type of violence.”

Ecuador has shown it can lead by example in this area. It recently declared that extreme poverty had been eliminated in one of its provinces and aims to eliminate it in the entire country by 2017.