Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is Venezuela a threat to the US?

I published not long ago on the sanctions imposed on Venezuela, in the middle of the easing of relations with Cuba. Now the US has imposed additional sanctions on Venezuela, and declared that the country is "an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States." That this statement is, at face value, ridiculous is fairly evident. The sanctions are imposed allegedly on the basis of violations of human rights, which is also not credible, since the US (not just in the past, but right now) supports governments with a very poor record on human rights. In Latin America the US gives full support to the government of Colombia were human rights violations are the norm.

The media coverage in the US about Venezuela is, as noted by Mark Weisbrot, worse than the coverage during the build up to the Iraq war. I normally don't discuss non-economic issues in the blog. But it is worth listening to Mark on the Diane Rehm show today. Note that as Mark says, it is the US that is isolated on Venezuela, with almost all the governments in the region decrying the US policies. And as he says, there are problems with the economic policies in Venezuela (and other left of center governments in the region), but nothing justifies the US support for "regime change" in Venezuela, in particular, and the region. And no the government is NOT a dictatorship. Not only it was elected in clean elections, but also the vast majority of the media is anti-Chávez and they do have freedom of expression, as Mark notes, probably more than in the US.

Note that the pressure on Venezuela takes place at the same time that in many countries, the right wing forces which historically have received support from US administrations, both Republican and Democratic ones, are pushing for impeachments and veiled threats of coups. Part of the reason for right wing pressure, and the hate these left of center governments have generated on the wealthy and the middle classes (which in the past were for military coups) is, as noted by Bresser-Pereira in Brazil, related to the improvement of income distribution and the conditions of the poorest in the region. Note that the region is the exception in the last decade, with inequality falling, even if it is still high.

PS: Beyond the political questions, which of course do have an economic impact, there is very little sensible written about the long run problems of growing with abundance of foreign currency (something often referred to as a resource curse or Dutch Disease). A precursor to that discussion can be found in the work of Celso Furtado, written in 1957, when he was at the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA). See more here.

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On Argentine debt restructuring proposal (in Spanish)

Short interview for an Argentinean radio show, in Spanish.