Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire

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Uncle Sam has a problem in his South American “backyard” with those uppity Venezuelans who insisted on democratically electing Nicolás Maduro as their president instead of by-passing the electoral process and installing the unelected US asset Juan Guaidó. No matter, Amnesty International has come to the rescue with a full-throated defense of US imperialism:

“Faced with grave human rights violations, shortages of medicines and food and generalized violence in Venezuela, there is an urgent hunger for justice. The crimes against humanity probably committed by the authorities must not go unpunished.” – Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

Amnesty International fails in its broadside to put its claims against the Maduro government in the context of a concerted regime-change campaign, which amounts to war, by the bully from the north. The US is waging an illegal war against Venezuela and Amnesty International’s broadside leaves out this inconvenient fact, egregiously even omitting any mention of sanctions.

As human rights activist Chuck Kaufman of the Alliance for Global Justice noted about Amnesty International (AI): “They don’t seem to even care about their credibility anymore.” A more credible and honest account of what is unfolding in Venezuela, than the hatchet job presented in AI’s May 14th Venezuela: Crimes against humanity require a vigorous response from the international justice system, would have also noted along with the alleged transgressions of the Maduro government:

• Grave human rights violations. Economists Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University recently reported that US sanctions on Venezuela are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. This is the price being exacted on Venezuela, with a prediction for worse to come, for the regime change that AI is implicitly promoting.

• Shortages of medicines and food. Since 2015, when US President Obama first instituted them, the US has been imposing ever more crippling illegal sanctions on Venezuela expressly to create misery for the population in the hope that it would then turn against their own democratically elected government. The sanctions are specifically designed to suffocate the economy so that Venezuela cannot address its problems. The US government boasts about the impacts of sanctions. Playing the good cop to the US role as bad cop, AI laments the very conditions they are tacitly promoting in asking for ever increasing “punishments.” New US sanctions on Venezuela were imposed on May 10th.

• Generalized violence. The US government has repeatedly and unapologetically threatened military intervention in Venezuela if the elected government doesn’t abdicate. Short of attacking militarily, the US has waged war against Venezuela by economic and diplomatic means, not to mention low-intensity warfare such as cyber attacks. The extreme rightwing opposition has called for the extra-legal overthrow of the government and has eschewed electoral means for effecting political change. AI is correct in noting that since 2017 new violence has been inflicted on the Venezuelan people but fails to note the role of the opposition in provoking that violence with their guarimbas and other actions. Meanwhile Guaidó, whose popular support in Venezuela is bottoming out, is reported sending his envoy to meet with the US Southern Command to “coordinate.”

How is it possible that an organization purporting to stand for human rights and global justice can so blithely ignore facts that do not fit into their narrative and so obsequiously parrot the Trump-Pompeo-Bolton-Abrams talking points? Why would AI go so far as to meet with the self-appointed Guaidó and then within days issue a report condemning the Maduro government, without also investigating the other side in the conflict?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time AI has shown an imperial bias as it has regarding US-backed regime-change projects in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Nicaragua.

Objectively deconstructing the many allegations (e.g., “more than 8,000 extrajudicial executions by the security forces”) made against Venezuela in the AI broadside and its accompanying report remains to be done. Unfortunately, the Empire has a surfeit of resources to churn out propaganda compared to the ability to counter it by genuine humanitarian groups. AI alone has an annual budget of over $300 million. According to sources cited by Wikipedia, AI receives grants from the US State Department, the European Commission, and other governments along with the Rockefeller Foundation.

To conclude, AI’s broadside calls for justice about as often as it calls for punishment with the subtext that punishment of the Empire’s victims is justice. Were AI truly concerned about justice, rather than justifying another US regime-change operation, they would champion the following:

• Ending the unilateral sanctions by the US on Venezuela, which are illegal under the charters of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
• Supporting dialogue between the elected government and the opposition as has been promoted by Mexico, Uruguay, Pope Francis, and most recently by Norway.
• Condemning regime-change activities and interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs and actively rejecting the US government’s aggressive stance as articulated by US VP Pence: “This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action.”
• Respecting the sovereignty of Venezuela and restoring normal diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela.

Roger Harris is with the Task Force on the Americas (http://taskforceamericas.org/), a 33-year-old human rights organization, and is active with the Campaign to End US-Canadian Sanctions Against Venezuela (https://tinyurl.com/yd4ptxkx).

  • mwildfire

    “According to sources cited by Wikipedia, AI receives grants from the US
    State Department, the European Commission, and other governments along
    with the Rockefeller Foundation.”
    Ah. Now I understand.

  • Guy

    “The crimes against humanity probably committed”
    So now it is probably or maybe , could be .What a crock of horse manure from an organization that claims credibility .
    They have obviously been told that if they want to remain in existence they better tow
    the US line .Still ,never sending my money to them ever again .A cheap propaganda tool is all it is.

  • D Turgeon

    Yup: follow the $$$.

  • D Turgeon

    Sounds more like an expensive propaganda tool: a $300,000,000 one.

  • Jon

    Shame on what was once a worthy institution supporting the oppressed!

  • Menkit

    Democratically elected Maduro? Then how come the majority of Venezuelans want Guaido? I know someone who just returned from there and she says Maduro is a dictator run by the military and drug barons and they want him gone but he has too much power. This time the U.S. is doing the right thing apparently. Why is the media misreporting this?

  • Thom Rip

    OIL and…..the usual

  • oh? i know someone who just returned from england and she says the royal family are all child molesters and they loved hitler…what a crock..the majority want guaido? sure…and santa claus is a commie…is it any wonder that trump is president?

  • kevinzeese

    Wow — how much false information can someone put into four lines!

    The falsehoods about Maduro being a dictator and not democratically elected are on this article. https://popularresistance.org/declaration-of-the-embassy-protection-collective/

    The article also provides details about how Guaido’s self-appointment violated that Venezuelan Constitution in multiple ways And, there is no evidence that the majority want Guaido. He cancels more rallies than he holds because so few people come out to support him.

    If you keep posting falsehoods, you will be removed from this page.

  • kevinzeese

    This is a faulty analysis. There is no evidence of corruption in this article. What it shows it that Venezuela is seeking to use its gold resources to continue to run its government, i.e. provide food supplies through its food distribution program, health care and education through government programs that provide those services, as well as building housing for the poor (Venezuela has built and given away 2.5 million homes for 10 million of its poorest people). And, they need to use their resources to arm and train the civilian militia of more than 2 million people as well as their armed services, police and national guard of more than 200,000. Using its gold resources is necessary because of the US/western economic war against Venezuela.
    *@KBZeese*
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  • kevinzeese

    It is evident from the comment history of the Menkit address that you have created this account just to put out false informaton. Only five comments have been made from this address, with one follower. You will not be publishing comments on Popular Resistance any longer. We do not feed the trolls here.