US sanctions killed over 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017

A new study reveals that Trump's animosity towards Venezuela has caused grave harm to the most vulnerable Venezuelan social groups.

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump's economic sanctions against Venezuela are affecting not only President Nicolas Maduro's administration but also the civilian population, with over 40,000 deaths reported in a study released by the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) on 25 April.

'The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food and other essential imports,' said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director and co-author of the study. 'This is illegal under US and international law, and treaties that the US has signed. Congress should move to stop it.'

The study, titled 'Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela', was co-written by Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned economist who teaches at Columbia University and was a director of the Harvard Institute for International Development at the Kennedy School of Government.

Besides pointing out that the US actions have been rapidly worsening the humanitarian crisis, the CEPR study notes that a new set of financial and trade sanctions have been deployed to devastate the Venezuelan economy since the US recognised Juan Guaido's parallel government in January 2019.

'Venezuela's economic crisis is routinely blamed all on Venezuela. But it is much more than that. American sanctions are deliberately aiming to wreck Venezuela's economy and thereby lead to regime change,' the Columbia professor said. 'It's a fruitless, heartless, illegal and failed policy, causing grave harm to the Venezuelan people.'

By prohibiting international transactions with the Bolivarian government, the United States has 'efficiently' affected Venezuela's oil production, which can be clearly seen when a correlation is drawn between oil production levels and the dates when the sanctions went into effect.

The loss of oil-based incomes has prevented the Venezuelan government from not only improving the country's balance of payments but also buying food and medicines in international markets.

'Since the January 2019 sanctions, oil production has fallen by 431,000 barrels per day or 36.4 percent. This will greatly accelerate the humanitarian crisis, but the projected 67 percent decline in oil production for the year, if the sanctions continue, would cause vastly more loss of human life,' the report warned.

The CEPR report also reveals that Venezuela's economic contraction is clearly not a 'natural fact' but rather a consequence of the current US foreign policy, which represents a 'very serious harm to human life and health.'

'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 stabilise the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans,' said the study.

CEPR estimated that US actions since August 2017 prompted more than 40,000 deaths. That figure is based on an estimated 80,000 people with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017; 16,000 people who need dialysis; 16,000 people with cancer; and 4 million with diabetes and hypertension, many of whom cannot obtain insulin or cardiovascular medicine.                    

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*Third World Resurgence No. 337/338, January/February 2019, p 25