© AFP 2019 / JUAN BARRETO
Ignorance is the most potent weapon in the vast armoury of the privileged and powerful. The use of force and prisons to oppress citizens and deny them basic human rights is effective but tends to cause a reaction. People physically oppressed feel the pain and often resist and revolt against their oppressors.
But the locks and chains of mental imprisonment through imposed ignorance are invisible and much more effective. For those detained within prisons of ignorance do not even recognise their enslavement. Information is power and those who control the flow of information are very powerful. Keeping the populace ignorant or ensuring they are only partially informed or misinformed is how the rich and powerful maintain control.
The statement above swirled around my brain last week as I struggled to contain my anger and rage at the treatment of Venezuela and her people by Trump’s American gangsters and their hired liars and lickspittles who daily pollute our screens and newsstands with tales designed to misinform, half inform and conceal completely the motives of the mobsters in smart suits and ties who flash smiles and issue soundbites in public but who are responsible for carnage, extreme poverty and premature deaths in private.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo displayed the self-assured shamelessness of the arrogant crook he is by labeling the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and others who dare to support the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as “disgusting”. He did so a few days ago as he sat appropriately alongside the dishonorable multi-millionaire UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP, so powerful he can flaunt laws and tax bills everyone else is compelled to obey and so rich he forgets to declare the purchase of seven luxury flats:”It is disgusting to see leaders, in not only the United Kingdom, but the United States as well, who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro. It is not in either of our country’s best interests for those leaders to continue to advocate on their behalf“.
The only thing that is “disgusting” is the dishonest, deceitful display of hypocrisy by Pompeo on behalf of America as they implement a vicious economic war against the people of Venezuela in pursuit of control over their vast oil reserves, the largest reserves on the planet.
Pompeo represents the biggest bully nation in the world. The suggestion they are concerned with the human rights or welfare of the Venezuelan people is an outrageous misrepresentation of reality. The truth of the situation is crystal clear but you will only find it if you look beneath and beyond the cacophony of sneeringly dishonest media coverage that disgracefully disguises itself as news output.
Last week I listened to and watched bulletin after bulletin glowingly report the attempt of US imposed puppet Juan Guido to encourage a violent overthrow of a democratically elected President in Venezuela.Guido was given hours of coverage and acres of newsprint to proclaim the end of the elected Maduro “regime” without a hint of critical context or a sniff of journalistic questioning of the legitimacy of a self-appointed President in preference to one who attracted over 6.2 million votes in a democratic election less than twelve months ago.
Even Jon Snow and Channel 4 News have joined the ranks of the disgraced purveyors of US friendly lies and half-truths. Snow referred to Maduro, the guy re-elected President with over 6.2 million votes in a field of several candidates, as the “failed President”. The display of bias and prejudice against Maduro was sickening and nauseating.
The very same so-called ‘news’ stations like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and CNN who promoted and encouraged an illegal, undemocratic and violent overthrow of the Maduro government then had the brass necks to condemn that government’s police and security services for quelling the isolated malcontents who threw missiles and even fired live ammunition at the legitimate police force of Venezuela.
If only they displayed such concern for ‘protesters’ when reporting the shooting of children with flags and placards in the West Bank and Gaza strip by the illegally occupying Israeli Defence Forces?
What is withheld from public view and given no or cursory coverage is the fact that Venezuela has been deliberately targeted by the US for regime change and the economic sanctions imposed have been illegal under international law and deadly to the poor of Venezuela.
Consider the Executive Summary of the devastating Report from the American based Center For Economic And Policy Research (CEPR) published last month:
“This paper looks at some of the most important impacts of the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US government since August of 2017. It finds that most of the impact of these sanctions has not been on the government but on the civilian population.
The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans. Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves.
“We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017-2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well”.
This rigorously researched academic report finds the US Government guilty of imposing illegal economic sanctions amounting to a form of collective punishment costing 40,000 Venezuelan lives and the fact is that most if not all readers of this column will be learning of this shocking fact for the first time.
America is guilty of breaching the Geneva and Hague Conventions designed to defend human rights; breaking international laws designed to protect the national sovereignty of nations; and causing the premature deaths of more than 40,000 Venezuelan citizens, and you are only just learning about it?
If this does not enrage you and alert you to how ill-informed we are collectively about the actions, motives and consequences of US actions you are on the side of the oppressors in the world and don’t care about such atrocities.
At the start of February I watched BBC anchor-man Andrew Neil on one of his many BBC provided platforms attack Ken Livingston for suggesting many of Venezuela’s economic problems were caused by US economic sanctions. Neil aggressively challenged Livingston to name any sanctions and suggested the only sanctions that existed were from 2015 under Barack Obama and they were “aimed solely at Venezuelan regime members”.According to Mr BBC, Andrew Neil, there were ‘no economic sanctions by the US against Venezuela which could cause any economic damage’. The exchange is promoted by the ‘Voice of Reason’ website under the headline: ‘Andrew Neil demolishes left wing myth that Venezuela’s demise was caused by America‘.
Andrew Neil and the British Biased Corporation are no strangers to the peddling of biased, misleading and unfounded views and news of course. They do it consistently and professionally. Sometimes they are caught out and reprimanded but often the damage is done in the artificial influencing and manipulation of public opinion.
Two years ago during an interview with former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections Mr Neil used out of date data and biased Tory propaganda to suggest primary school children in Scotland were “functionally illiterate”.
It was a woefully inaccurate and politically biased claim. The toothless and inadequate watchdog, Ofcom, has now found the interview to be misleading and inaccurate but a full two years after the broadcast took place. So we know how biased the mainstream media can be and should not be surprised that an academic report so damning of the US economic sanctions and involvement in undermining Venezuela is repressed. However what about the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly? Would you expect a similar report from such a respected and esteemed body to be ignored?
In September last year a detailed and comprehensive report was submitted to the HRC by the independent expert appointed on behalf of the HRC of the United Nations to examine the economic and democratic situation within both Venezuela and Ecuador. After months of interviews, examination of evidence, visitations across Venezuela and independent evaluation of contributions from all sides of the political divide within Venezuela Alfred de Zayas published his Report.
The methodology he used in compiling his report followed the principle audiatur et altera pars, listen to all sides. He stringently adhered to Article 6 of the Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the HRC which requires mandate holders to establish the facts based on objective, reliable information emanating from relevant credible sources that have been duly cross-checked to the best extent possible.
The outcome was a damning indictment of the US and its illegal use of economic sanctions to engineer a politically desirable objective. The recent academic report referred to above only underlines the accuracy and truth of this report from the HRC Independent Expert. Several direct quotations are appropriate.
In relation to Venezuela’s achievements:
“The Independent Expert noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programs to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.”
In connection with the history of US interference in other sovereign nations through economic warfare to cause humanitarian disasters to justify military interventions:
“The Charter of the United Nations rests on the philosophy of multilateralism, a commitment to international cooperation, and the sovereign equality of States. Countries must not be isolated and boycotted, but helped in strengthening their democratic institutions. Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization”.
On the unilateral and illegal economic sanctions imposed and supported by the US, Canada and, shamefully, the EU:
“The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.”
The US, Canada and the EU are guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ but the Independent Expert doubts the International Criminal Court will investigate because of the identity of the powerful nations who are the perpetrators of the crimes.
Most damning but prophetic of all the words submitted by the Independent Expert in his Report were contained in Paragraph 37. Please read the whole Report but consider, reflect on, share and re-read this essential paragraph:”Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means. There is not only a horizontal juridical world order governed by the Charter of the United Nations and principles of sovereign equality, but also a vertical world order reflecting the hierarchy of a geopolitical system that links dominant States with the rest of the world according to military and economic power. It is the latter, geopolitical system that generates geopolitical crimes, hitherto in total impunity. It is reported that the United States is currently training foreign lawyers in how to draft legislation to impose further sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in an effort to asphyxiate Venezuelan State institutions.”
Open your eyes to the reality of US involvement in Venezuela and recognise it as the criminal enterprise that it is. Don’t accept the prison of ignorance built for us by the powerful. Break out and condemn them for their conscious breeches of international law and crimes against humanity.
Hands Off Venezuela. No To Economic Sanctions. Yes To Maduro & Democracy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.