Ever since President Donald Trump’s imposition of U.S. financial sanctions against Venezuela in August, the Venezuelan state has confronted various difficulties trying to import medicines and foodstuffs not produced domestically.
The financial blockade directly affects routine international payments for goods and services.
1. Funds were frozen for the import of insulin
The Venezuelan government has repeatedly condemned this. On Sept. 7, President Nicolas Maduro denounced in the National Constituent Assembly the hold up in an international port of a cargo of over 300,000 doses of insulin, thanks to the “Donald Trump-Julio Borges pact.”
President Maduro explained that the U.S.-based Citibank financial institution refused to receive the money Venezuela was depositing to pay for the importation of this huge cargo of insulin for diabetic patients. As a result, the insulin shipment was held up for many days in port. President Maduro explained, “Even though we have the money to pay, they do not accept it.”
“Starting this week, I hold Trump and Borges responsible for the blockade of medicines,” President Maduro said, referring to the requests during 2017 by the leader of the Justice First party for these boycott measures.
2. Colombia’s blockade of malaria medicine
On Nov. 3, Vice President Tareck El Aissami, announced that Venezuela had purchased a shipment of Primaquine, an anti-malaria medicine, from Colombia, but,”Once the laboratory (BSN Medical) knew the final destination was the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s Health Ministry, it arbitrarily blocked the dispatch of this medicine on the orders of Colombia’s president.”
President Maduro confirmed this, saying “When we already had the money to buy the medicines and went to pay for them, the Colombian government forbade the sale of these anti-malaria medicines to the Venezuelan people. We will purchase them elsewhere, people in Venezuela will not lack the medicines to combat these diseases.”
In fact, the Primaquine and other medicines for chronic illnesses had to be purchased in India.
— Luis López (@LuisLopezPSUV) September 19, 2017
3. Suspension of funds for buying food
One year ago, Freddy Bernal, secretary general of the Local Production and Supply Committees (CLAPs), denounced that, already back then, Venezuela was suffering an intense blockade of food imports.
He noted that, as part of the financial war against Venezuela, international banks suspended payments to foreign suppliers for three months holding up the arrival of 29 container ships carrying supplies needed to process and produce food products in Venezuela.
Bernal explained, “We spent 68 days looking for ways to pay and of course we have had to tell the country that this badly affected food distribution.”
The CLAP food packages have drastically reduced the effects of shortages and inflation resulting from both the attacks on Venezuela’s currency and also the economic siege from overseas. But, this past September, 18 million packages could not be distributed because payments were blocked. Venezuelan authorities had to work with various allied countries to triangulate payments so as to bring the food products to Venezuela.
Chavista leader Aristóbulo Istúriz condemned the development before the National Council of Economic Production explaining that once the food products were paid for, a shipping boycott was organized, which meant the 600 containers involved had to be shipped 100 at a time instead of arriving in a single shipment.
Given these obstacles, clearly brought about by the powerful, hegemonic states opposed to Venezuela, the government recently entered into contracts for weekly imports from Mexico and Panama of more than 1.5 million packages of basic food products into the ports of La Guaira in Vargas state and Puerto Cabello in Carabobo state for distribution across the country via the CLAPs.
4. Blocking of payments for travel by Venezuelan sports teams
Medicines and food are not the only major expressions of the de facto blockade imposed on Venezuela’s people. Sports are also affected.
President Maduro denounced in the National Constituent Assembly that, on Sept. 6, an international bank informed the Bolivarian government that it was “impossible” to carry out payments by Venezuela to a U.S. financial institution refusing to process the transfer of US$1.5 million from the Sports Ministry to pay suppliers of airline tickets, accommodation and other needs of leading athletes in various Venezuelan sports delegations.
Although the government tried to unblock the payments in order to pay for travel, accommodation and related expenses, President Maduro decided to place government airplanes at the athletes’ disposal, especially for Venezuela’s female volleyball team, whose participation in the 2017 South American championships was jeopardized by the U.S. blockade against Venezuela.
The increase in areas affected by the international blockade against Venezuela is matched by the corresponding government responses to ensure the necessary protection of all Venezuela’s people. International alliances with the bloc of countries challenging U.S. hegemony have allowed Venezuela, with difficulty, to cope with the U.S. authorities’ tough measures which are aimed at fomenting social conditions clearing the way for the overthrow of the Chavista government.
The blockade is applied so as to affect Venezuela’s population directly, but the government has acted to neutralize or at least mitigate the effects of the “Trump-Borges pact,” a new way of describing the U.S. intervention and coup.
Top photo | In this Aug. 23, 2017 photo, people wait outside a supermarket for subsidized products to arrive in Caracas, Venezuela. U.S. financial sanctions are causing Venezuelans to struggling like never before. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)
Translated by Tortilla con Sal for Misión Verdad.