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Sanctions

Notes from Eritrea

I had no idea until today that International Workers’ Day is a national holiday in Eritrea. I missed the celebrations because I was rushing to the airport to get from Addis Ababa to Asmara, the Eritrean capital, but today I took a cell phone snap of the banner “Long Live May 1 International Workers’ Day” still hanging outside a park. It’s no surprise that the US has done everything it can to turn a nation that celebrates International Workers’ Day into a pariah state. Free education through college and subsidized health care don’t suit its neoliberal model either, nor does its determination to negotiate fair prices for its considerable natural resources. Eritrea may have most offended US policymakers, however, by its defiance of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the US puppet that ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist from 1991 to 2018, then started the ongoing Ethiopian war by attacking the nation’s Northern Command base in Tigray Region in November 2020.

Venezuela And Iran Deepen Cooperation To Overcome US Sanctions

Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held a meeting with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji in Caracas to strengthen energy cooperation as the two oil producing countries ramp up efforts to offset US sanctions. On Monday, Maduro hosted Owji and other Iranian officials in Miraflores Palace where they held a “productive meeting" to “deepen the ties of brotherhood and cooperation [between the nations] in energy matters." In a Twitter post, the Venezuelan mandatary expressed his gratitude for Iran’s ongoing support in the Caribbean country’s struggle to recover the economy under US sanctions. President Maduro pledged “to continue advancing along the path of mutual benefit and complementarity for our peoples.”

Biden Vacillates As Venezuela’s Maduro Gains Ground

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s repeated calls for dialogue with the U.S. in order to normalize relations seem to be paying off. His openness to rapprochement contrasts with the Biden administration’s nebulousness regarding the degree to which Washington is willing to recognize Maduro as president (full diplomatic recognition is out of the question). Biden’s use of sanctions as a bargaining chip to wrest concessions from Caracas is a harder sell than former President Donald Trump’s regime-change narrative on the basis of the preposterous Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle, sometimes referred to as “humanitarian intervention.” Over the last two months, the flip flops and timidity of the Biden administration have been put on full display.

PayPal Cancels CN Account; May Seize Balance

PayPal has canceled Consortium News‘ account without any prior notice or due process and with virtually no explanation. As Consortium News is today launching its Spring Fund Drive, it has lost one of its most important ways for its viewers and readers to show their support through donations.  Clicking on the yellow PayPal donate button on our home page now yields this message: PayPal has sent an email to CN that says: “You can’t use PayPal anymore. … We noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we no longer offer you PayPal services. … Because of potential risk exposure, we’ve permanently limited your account. You’ll no longer be able to use the account for any transactions.” The message says that “any money in your PayPal balance will be held for up to 180 days,” after which, “if applicable, we’ll email you with information on how to withdraw any remaining money.”

Ukraine And The Strength Of Nonalignment

China and Russia appear to have understood from the first that the Ukraine crisis would affect the geopolitical maps in these two ways. Their joint statement on Feb. 4, the eve of the Beijing Olympics and slightly more than two weeks before Russia began its intervention, was a not-very-veiled rejection of the West’s claim to global hegemony and an invitation to begin constructing a new world order based on principles Western nations profess but pay no mind to. If nonalignment is the emergent drift in global politics and policy, India is logically prominent among the battlegrounds where the fight is engaged. India is big and populous. It is influential among non–Western nations. And Washington has long entertained ridiculous fantasies to the effect that it can pull New Delhi decisively into the Western camp against Russia and China alike.

Jump-Starting A Commune: Voices From Monte Sinaí

Monte Sinaí Commune is a young organization working hard to foster communal production and strengthen non-market social relations. This commune’s territory reaches into both Anzoátegui and Miranda states, but has its epicenter in the small town of Santa Bárbara in the Guanape Valley. Various crops, including coffee, cocoa, black beans, diverse tubers, and avocado, all grow in this lush and varied region. Since the coffee trees here are old and low in yield, the commune has built a plant nursery to grow coffee seedlings to replace the old trees. The process of forming the Monte Sinaí Commune began about a year ago. Since then, we have been working very hard. As the saying goes, we are a diamond in the rough, but the beauty of the project is beginning to show. Our parliament meets every Wednesday no matter what. That is where we bring our ideas to the table, debate, and plan.

Self-Government In Times Of Blockade: Luisa Cáceres Commune

Eastern Venezuela is home to extensive petroleum extraction and processing operations which have their hub in the cities of Barcelona and Puerto la Cruz in Anzoátegui state. The Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi Commune, one of the most advanced communes in the country, grew up in the shadow of this multibillion-dollar business in one of Barcelona's working-class neighborhoods. This is a rapidly-growing commune – remarkable because of its success in an urban context – which focuses on recycling and waste disposal to maintain itself. In Part I of this two-part series, Luisa Caceres’ communards explain the challenges of building a commune in a country besieged by US imperialism.

How The US Does ‘Diplomacy’

The U.S. doesn't do diplomacy. Every country has its own interests. But the U.S. and its pricks in the State Department insist that its interests must have priority over all others. Any country that disagrees with that will be called out on this or that issue or will even get sanctioned.

Venezuela’s Economy Will Grow 20% In 2022, Despite Illegal US Sanctions

The major Switzerland-based bank Credit Suisse has predicted that Venezuela’s real GDP growth will be 20% in 2022. The prominent Western financial institution also forecasted that Venezuela’s real GDP will increase by an additional 8% in 2023. These predictions come despite an illegal US blockade imposed on Venezuela, which has starved the government of revenue, locked it out of the international financial system, and fueled an economic crisis. The top United Nations expert on sanctions estimated that the Venezuelan government lost 99% of its revenue due to the Western unilateral coercive measures, which are illegal under international law. “Unilateral sanctions increasingly imposed by the United States, the European Union and other countries have exacerbated the [economic crisis],” stated Alena Douhan

Ukraine – A Decisive Transfer Of The Balance Of Power From West To East

Most of the debate and coverage of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war in Australia and the Western world is decidedly banal. It is characterized by the simplification of an extremely complex situation to generate a narrative that can be summarized as Putin and Russia are evil and Ukraine is good. This gross simplification is not helpful in either understanding the causes of the war, the nature of the war, its broader implications and most importantly of all, how it can be ended with the least number of additional deaths and injuries and damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure. The preponderance of human-interest reporting of the conflict in lieu of coverage of the war itself is illustrative. The heartbreaking examples of families torn asunder along with the brave exploits of Ukrainian soldiers or allegations of war crimes by Russia, whilst important, tends to trigger an emotional response rather than provide an accurate depiction of the course of events.

US-EU Sanctions Hit Latin America’s Banana Growers

Russia is a large consumer of the Latin American banana—but western sanctions have dealt a devastating blow to farmers who can no longer get their products to market. For Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of bananas, the setback has been disastrous. Around 25% of Ecuador’s banana exports go to Russia and 90% of all bananas consumed in Russia come from Ecuador. However, commercial ships carrying the bananas can no longer reach the port of St. Petersburg due to sanctions imposed by the US and EU. The sudden drop in demand has left producers with excess supply. Prices have collapsed as a result. Richard Salazar, Director of Arcobanec (exporters association) said that Ecuador usually exports bananas for up to $US 5.50 per box.

History Rounds Off Skeletons To Zero

On 16 March 2022, as Russia’s war on Ukraine entered its second month, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev warned his people that ‘uncertainty and turbulence in the world markets are growing, and production and trade chains are collapsing’. A week later, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a brief study on the immense shock that will be felt around the world due to this war. ‘Soaring food and fuel prices will have an immediate effect on the most vulnerable in developing countries, resulting in hunger and hardship for households who spend the highest share of their income on food’, the study noted. South of Kazakhstan, in the Kyrgyz Republic, the poorest households already spent 65% of their income on food before these current price hikes; as food inflation rises by 10%, the impact will be catastrophic for the Kyrgyz people.

Meet the New, Resource-Based Global Reserve Currency

It was something to behold. Dmitri Medvedev, former Russian President, unrepentant Atlanticist, current deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, decided to go totally unplugged in an outburst matching the combat star turn of Mr. Khinzal that delivered palpable shock and awe all across NATOstan. Medvedev said “hellish” Western sanctions not only have failed to cripple Russia, but are instead “returning to the West like a boomerang.” Confidence in reserve currencies is “fading like the morning mist”, and ditching the US dollar and the euro is not unrealistic anymore: “The era of regional currencies is coming.” After all, he added, “no matter if they want it or not, they’ll have to negotiate a new financial order (…) And the decisive voice will then be with those countries that have a strong and advanced economy, healthy public finances and a reliable monetary system.”

Sanctions On Russia Boomerang – Biden Promises Food Shortages

“Food shortages — it’s going to be real,” President Joe Biden said in Brussels March 25. “The price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.” This  ominous warning, reported around the world, was delivered at a NATO press conference. As Biden spoke, workers’ actions in Spain, Greece, Italy, France and Germany confronted soaring prices for fuel and food. From truckers to farmers on tractors, roads were blocked. Fishing people organized on boats. The price of fuel has already become unbearable. This resistance is just a glimpse of what is to come, as the economic unraveling of Europe, due to U.S. and European Union sanctions, boomerangs back on those countries who acceded to U.S. demands.

US Recklessly Eyes China As Target In Economic War

The United States is setting up China as a second target of its intense economic war against Russia in what could have cataclysmic effects on the world economy, including the West. The U.S. could not impose the most stringent sanctions on Moscow without the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now the U.S. is trying to link China to the war. Washington’s move to frame Beijing emerged Monday when unnamed U.S. officials told its allies that Russia had asked China for military aid in Ukraine. Reuters reported: “The message, sent in a diplomatic cable and delivered in person by intelligence officials, also said China was expected to deny those plans, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”  China indeed denied it.
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