Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke before a meeting of the Organization of American States today. She directly addressed the sanctions placed on seven Venezuelan officials last week by the White House, and defended the targeted individuals. Rodriguez said:
The majority of these officials are being sanctioned because they defended democracy and the peaceful stability in Venezuela, because they confronted violence, and because they preserved the peace in Venezuela.
Although Rodriguez did not specifically say which officials are included in her description, the use of the qualifier “majority” would seem to suggest that she believes that at least some of the sanctioned officials are not being sanctioned for defending democracy and peace.
The sanctioned officials include Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, the head of the SEBIN, and Manuel Perez Urdaneta, the director of the National Bolivarian Police. Both organizations were accused by Amnesty International of engaging in human rights abuses during last year’s protests.
Rodriguez also said that last year’s “terrorist actions” should not be excused simply because some of them were carried out by university students. She then made the following analogy:
That’s like saying that terrorists can come to take language courses in one of our universities, and that somehow gives them license to not be incriminated in their terrible acts that generate violence, death and terror in our country.
Turning to economic matters, Rodriguez said that Venezuela was the victim of a financial and media campaign bent on destroying it:
Rodriguez: … and on Venezuela, we’ve been insisting that there isn’t only a media war, but a [campaign of] media harassment by financial and media centres against our country. A few months ago, we suffered a financial block. And, by the way, due to this decree [the sanctions] which constitutes aggression according to the OAS and the UN charters, some of our diplomatic missions’ bank accounts have already been blocked. We have proof of this. We have information from banks around the world where they’ve told us that our bank accounts have been blocked as a result of the sanctions imposed by the President of the United States of North America [sic]. If this isn’t an aggression – as is according to the charter of this organization – then, tell me, what are we talking about? Because if we’re going to talk about excuses when it comes to human rights, international organizations have recognized the advances when it comes to human rights made by the Bolivarian government, and they’ve been defended like never before in our country’s history.
U.S. Offers Response
At the same meeting, a U.S representative to the OAS, Michael Fitzpatrick, responded to Venezuela’s comments at the meeting:
The U.S. did not create the problems Venezuela faces… my government does not wish to see a Venezuela that is unstable or in poverty … we want to see Venezuela thrive and return to a state of prosperity.
Fitzpatrick also said that the United States was not planning to invade Venezuela, and that the reason behind the sanctions is simple: to stop people they believe have been responsible for human rights violations from having money in and entering the United States.
Ceballos Marks 1 Year in Prison
Former San Cristobal mayor Daniel Ceballos marked his one year anniversary at the Ramo Verde military prison near Caracas today.
Ceballos was detained and sent to the Ramo Verde prison on March 19 of last year. Less than a week after his arrest, on March 25, he was sentenced to 12 months in prison for failing to clear the streets of San Cristobal of barricades and protesters.