President Obama signed into law today a bill which imposes economic and travel sanctions against Venezuelan officials deemed to have been involved in the systemic human rights violations that took place in the country this year. The sanctions – approved by Congress last week – include the freezing of assets in the United States and travel bans into the same. While the list of officials to be sanctioned has not yet been made public, it is rumoured to contain at least 26 names, all high-ranking Venezuelan government and military officials.
White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said last week that the United States “would not remain silent” in the face of the human rights violations that have taken place in the country this year.
Maduro was quick to respond to the sanctions with a string of tweets in which he said:
President Obama has taken a wrong step against our homeland today by signing these sanctions despite the national/continental rejection.
On the one hand, [Obama] recognizes the failure of the politics of aggression and the blockade against our sister, Cuba, who resisted and won with dignity.
On the other hand, [Obama] has begun a new stage of aggressions against Bolivar’s homeland despite our people’s rejection [of the sanctions].
These are the contradictions of an empire that seeks to dominate through any means, underestimating the strength and conscientiousness of our homeland.
For these reasons, I reject the insolent measures taken by the Imperial Elite of the United States against Venezuela. Bolivar’s homeland must be respected.
Northern Imperialists will continue to fail wherever they go. Our America will never again be anyone’s colony. This we swear, and it shall be so.
Venezuela and the United States have not had formal diplomatic relations since 2010.
Reaction to US.-Cuba News Continues
The Venezuelan government issued a formal declaration regarding the news that the United States and Cuba were going to begin to rebuild diplomatic and economic ties. The statement came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and reads:
The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, spoke with the President of Cuba, General of the Armies, Raul Castro, and expressed on behalf of the Venezuelan government his most profound happiness for the just release of the three Cuban heroes who have been illegally detained in prisons in the United States, as well as on the new course that Cuban-American relations have taken, which we hope will be framed by mutual respect of the sovereignty and self-determination of the people.
In the same way, [Maduro] recognizes President Barack Obama’s brave gesture, as he has taken a historic step to rectify the relationship between the United States and Cuba, admitting the failure of the criminal economic and commercial blockade that his country maintains against the Cuban people.
Reality has shown the United States government – which works through unilateral sanctions – that they are not measured weapons with which to resolve differences. In this way, [Maduro] expresses his wishes that in this new stage, dialogue can be strengthened along with the recognition of the rights of a people to enjoy a free, independent and sovereign future, while avoiding new errors and future failures.
At the same time, the entirety of the Venezuelan people recognize the valour, integrity and loyalty of the Cuban people to the defence of their sovereignty and the revolution. Special recognition goes to Commander Fidel Castro and President and General of the Armies Raul Castro for their firm defence of Marti’s homeland.
PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello spoke about the normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations on his show, Con El Mazo Dando, yesterday. Cabello said:
Today… the government of the U.S. finally realized that it was wrong. Well, I think they realized it. I hope that it’s a sincere move and that they realize how wrong they were for so many years against the people, the glorious people of Cuba. We are so happy because of this vindication of the Cuban people. This [vindication] is the only thing that happened!
Cabello found room to launch another verbal attack against his government’s critics in the United States, saying:
Of course, the right is having a party right now. I can’t understand them… some of them are fighting with Obama – fine, fight with him – and others are saying that Raul and Fidel are cool, and that this is going to cause Maduro’s regime to collapse. The people who think this are really ridiculous.
Fitch Lowers Venezuelan Rating
The Fitch ratings agency lowered Venezuela’s credit rating to CCC as a result of the drop in oil prices, meaning that it considers Venezuela at an increased risk to default on its debt.