Monthly Archives: March 2015

Thoughts on US-Venezuela relations

After several years of US-Venezuelan relations being mostly a non-issue, they have suddenly blown up thanks to the US’s use of inflammatory rhetoric in the “whereas” portion of an executive order sanctioning seven midlevel officials.

“unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”

When you have thousands of nuclear missiles, spy personnel and tech in every country on the planet, a military budget almost as big as the rest of the world’s combined, and an economy apparently invulnerable to external shocks, you have to be deluded to consider a midsized, lowish-income South American country full of baseball-playing, TV-loving, fried-food-eating beach-goers to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat.” It’s like the Dallas Cowboys worrying that their defensive line may be breached by a middle-school field hockey team. A country that does in fact face imminent threats of climate change (which can’t be named), destructive levels of poverty, and gun violence (which also can’t be named) is instead going to focus its state power on…seven midlevel officials in Venezuela. I’m sure everyone in Peoria is sighing with relief, their fears are gone. I hope there is a new military honor for the valiant battle against midlevel bureaucrats in South America.

But seriously. There is more to this move than meets the (sarcastic) eye.

First of all, I don’t like the idea of sanctions on individuals. As far as I’m concerned, they are themselves a human rights violation. If you have information that could justify charging someone with a crime in your country, lay charges and try and get the person into custody. If you don’t have enough info to lay charges — or more likely, if you don’t want to reveal your sources and methods to scrutiny — then STFU. You can’t just impose state power on people without due process, citizens or not. The idea of human rights is we have them because we are born, not because we are born under one legal regime or another.

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