The United States government has a long history of declaring certain countries to be a “national security threat.” The policy of declaring a particular country, no matter how small, a threat to the United States – the economically and militarily largest country in the world - has its roots in the “Trading with the Enemy Act” of 1917. Since then the legal framework for declaring another country to be a national security threat has changed several times. The current legal framework is governed by International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) of 1977.
Once a U.S. president has declared a country to represent a national security threat under the provisions of the IEEPA, the president is authorized to block transactions and freeze assets of any government entity or government official of that country. If there is an actual armed conflict, then the president has the authority to confiscate the property of any government official or entity of that country. In the case of Venezuela, which owns a major multi-billion dollar oil company in the U.S. - Citgo – this would be a significant blow to the country.
The 2001 Patriot Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, further expanded the IEEPA to include “terrorist” organizations. The U.S. Treasury Department and the subsidiary agency that is in charge of implementing such freezing of assets, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), does not even need to present any evidence that the organization, official, or entity is involved in illegal activity in order for the OFAC to sanction it.
Currently the following governments have been declared to be national security threats under the IEEPA:
Cuba (since 1977)
Iran (since 1979)
North Korea (2008)
The U.S. government has consistently worsened relations with Venezuela ever since Obama became president. Already in late 2010 the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, issued uncharacteristically undiplomatic declarations against the government against Venezuela during his appointment hearing in the U.S. Senate. When his remarks became public then-president Chávez rejected Palmer's nomination and thereupon the Obama administration expelled Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.S. Ever since then there have been no ambassadors in the two countries and, as Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez recently pointed out, just in the past year Obama officials have issued over 50 declarations that interfere in domestic Venezuelan affairs.Below, the full text of the executive order:
Declaration of a National Emergency with Respect to Venezuela
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BLOCKING PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY OF CERTAIN PERSONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-278) (the "Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act") (the "Act"), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)) (INA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela's erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:
(1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; 2
(2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;
(3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or
(4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;
(B) to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;
(C) to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;
(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of:
(1) a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(2) an activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section; or
(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons, except where the Secretary of State determines that the person's entry is in the national interest of the United States. This section shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, or other applicable international obligations. 3
Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;
(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;
(d) the term "Government of Venezuela" means the Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Venezuela.
Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and 4
section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, other than the authorities contained in sections 5(b)(1)(B) and 5(c) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order, with the exception of section 2 of this order, and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of State is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, the INA, and section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, including the authorities set forth in sections 5(b)(1)(B), 5(c), and 5(d) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out section 2 of this order and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of State may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec. 11. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).
Sec. 12. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 9, 2015.
Published on 6 March by FARC-EP Peace delegation
On March 6, two days before International Women's Day, the third (and last) meeting between the Gender sub-Commission (a joint commission of FARC delegates and government delegates, mostly women) and six representatives of women's organizations from Colombia took place.
The official meeting (with plenipotenciaries, guarantor and accompanying countries and UN) lasted until one o'clock, but after lunch the sub-Commission sessioned alone with the representatives for two more hours, to gather ideas and proposals that will help to guarantee a gender perspective in the partial agreements. The five women and one man (representative of the LGTBI community) held a press conference at 4 o'clock. Victoria Sandino, head of the Gender sub-Commission of the FARC-EP, read a document to welcome the representatives:
Published on 24 February by CounterPunch Written by W.T. Whitney Jr
Colombia is seemingly a “no-go” zone for most U. S. media and even for many critics of U.S. overseas misadventures. Yet the United States was in the thick of things in Colombia while hundreds of thousands were being killed, millions were forced off land, and political repression was the rule.
Bogota university professor and historian Renán Vega Cantor hasauthored a study of U.S. involvement in Colombia. He records words and deeds delineating U.S. intervention there over the past century. The impact of Vega’s historical report, released on February 11, stems from a detailing of facts. Communicating them to English-language readers will perhaps stir some to learn more and to act.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government have been at war for half a century. Vega’s study appears within the context of negotiations in Cuba to end that conflict. Negotiators on both sides agreed in August, 2014 to form a “Historical Commission on Conflict and its Victims” to enhance discussions on victims of conflict. The Commission explored “multiple causes” of the conflict, “the principal factors and conditions facilitating or contributing to its persistence,” and consequences. Commission members sought “clarification of the truth” and establishment of responsibilities. On February 11 the Commission released an 809 – page report offering a diversity of wide-ranging conclusions. Vega was one of 12 analysts contributing individual studies to the report.
Having looked into “links between imperialist meddling and both counterinsurgency and state terrorism,” he claims the United States “is no mere outside influence, but is a direct actor in the conflict owing to prolonged involvement.” And, “U. S. actions exist in a framework of a relationship of subordination. … [T]he block in power had an active role in reproducing subordination, because, (Vega quotes Colombia Internacional, vol 65), ‘there existed for more than 100 years a pact among the national elites for whom subordination led to economic and political gains.’” As a result, “Not only in the international sphere, but in the domestic one too, the United States, generally, has the last word.”
In 1903, after 50 years of minor interventions, the United States secured Panama’s independence from Colombia as a prelude to building its canal there. As a sop to wounded Colombian feelings and to secure oil- extraction rights, the United States paid $25 million to Colombia under the Urrutia-Thompson Treaty of 1921. Colombia that year sent 72 percent of its exports to the United States, thanks mostly to U.S. banana and oil producers and U.S. lenders.
Vega highlights Colombia’s “native” brand of counterinsurgency. Under the flag of anti-communism, the Colombian Army violently suppressed striking oil, dock and railroad workers. On December 6, 1929 at the behest of the U.S. United Fruit Company, that Army murdered well over 1000 striking banana workers near Santa Marta.
Published on 31 January byFight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
In a further attempt to halt the bloodshed in Colombia the communist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) declared an indefinite cessation of hostilities with the Colombian state on 18 December 2014.
'We have resolved to declare a unilateral cessation of fire and of hostilities for an indefinite period, which should transform itself into an armistice. ... This unilateral ceasefire, which we hope to prolong over time, would end only if it is proven that our guerrilla structures have been the object of attacks from the security forces.'
A month later, on 15 January 2015, President Santos announced that he was prepared to start talks on a bilateral ceasefire ‘as soon as possible’. He has delayed this for the nearly two and half years of negotiations with the FARC, having rejected FARC’s two other recent attempts to strengthen the road to social justice. The most bloodthirsty of the Colombian bourgeoisie have provided cover for Santos as he has slowed negotiations to a crawl. Senator Ernesto Macías, from Former President Álvaro Uribe’s Democratic Centre Party, has called President Santos 'a puppet of the FARC'.
FARC negotiators welcomed Santos’s announcement, whilst questioning his sincerity as he has continued attacks on the FARC over more than two years of discussions. FARC guerrilla leader Timoleón Jiménez warned that an accord remains far off as Santos aims to demobilise FARC without any examination of the causes of the conflict or the reforms necessary to end it. FARC’s declaration sets the scene for the negotiations which resume on 26 January. It again raises the question of Santos' refusal to respond to the demands of Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), to enter negotiations for the end of the 50-year Colombian civil war.
Published on 25 January by TeleSur English
The Ecuadorean National Secretariat for Planning and Development announced Friday that between 2007 and 2014, more than 1.5 million people had been lifted out of poverty in the South American country.
These years coincide with Presdient Rafael Correa’s time in office and the policies of what is known as the Citizens’ Revolution, which recently celebrated eight years of government.
“The model of government has radically changed,” said Pabel Muñoz, the national secretary for planning and development. The Correa administration has also dramatically reduced inequality in the country. In 2007, the country’s wealthiest earned 42 times that of the poorest, while in 2014 that was reduced to only 22 times.
The 1.5 million lifted out of poverty represents a drop of 14 percent in the poverty rate in the country, with extreme poverty dropping 8 points from 16.5 percent to 8.6 percent.
“Ecuador is a successful country because while reducing poverty, it reduces the gap between the rich and the poor. It has allowed for an increase in consumption and has not registered drops in social indicators. Instead people have climbed the social ladder,” said Muñoz.
Published on 26 January 2015 by TeleSur English
Authorities from Mexico's Veracruz state announced Sunday that they had found the body of missing local journalist José Moisés Sanchez Cerezo and accused the mayor of Medellín de Bravo, Omar Cruz Reyes, of masterminding Sanchez’s abduction and murder.
Veracruz state’s attorney general, Luis Angel Bravo released a statement on Sunday stating that that former municipal police confessed to participating in Sanchez's murder along with five other people at the instructions of the deputy director of the town's police force allegedly at the request of Cruz. Sanchez was abducted by armed men three weeks ago.
Bravo also issued formal murder charges against Cruz and requested the state congress to remove the mayor’s immunity so that he may be prosecuted.
According to a 2011 report by Journalists Without Borders, Veracruz was among the 10 most dangerous cities in the world to practice journalism.
Published on 08 January 2015 by TeleSUR English
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened a historic meeting between his nation and the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Thursday.
“During the meeting, China and the CELAC member states will have an in-depth discussion on collective cooperation,” Xi said in his opening address to the forum.
The two-day meeting is the first of its kind between CELAC and Beijing. The Chinese leader said the talks mark a “new beginning and new opportunity” for both Beijing and CELAC.
“China is willing to work with the Latin American and Caribbean states with a long-term and strategic perspective, to build the new platform of collective cooperation between the two sides. Let's take the meeting as a new starting point, seize the new opportunity of collective cooperation, and work for a new phase of the China-CELAC comprehensive partnership of cooperation and promote new development of bilateral ties based on a higher level,” he said.
The summit is expected to lead to close to US$50 billion in new investment between China and CELAC nations, in areas ranging from energy to scientific research.
Representatives will also agree on a four-year plan to deepen trade and other political and economic ties. CELAC, which unites all 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, launched in Venezuela in 2011 when representatives of each country signed the Declaration of Caracas.
The declaration seeks to consolidate regional integration and reduce the influence of the United States in the Americas.
Published on 26 November by TeleSUR English
A tragic milestone went virtually unreported in the English-speaking press in November, as Colombia's Victims Unit released its report indicating that the number of victims of Colombia's civil war has now surpassed 7 million. This number includes those who have been killed, disappeared or displaced since 1956. For a country of under 50 million citizens, these numbers are staggering, and certainly newsworthy, but apparently not for our mainstream media.
Of course, the violence and human rights abuses in Colombia have constituted inconvenient truths for the Western media as the U.S. has been a major sponsor of the violence and abuses in that country.
Indeed, a notable fact in the Victims Unit report is that "that the majority of victimization occurred after 2000, peaking in 2002 at 744,799 victims." It is not coincidental that "Plan Colombia," or "Plan Washington" as many Colombians have called it, was inaugurated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, thus escalating the conflict to new heights and new levels of barbarity. Plan Colombia is the plan pursuant to which the U.S. has given Colombia over $8 billion of mostly military and police assistance.
As Amnesty International has explained, these monies have only fueled the human rights crisis in Colombia: