PeoplesDispatch (Vijay Prashad, others): As the world tackles the Pandemic, the US charges Nicolas Maduro and others with drug-trafficking, puts a bounty on his head In the March 26 press conference, it was almost comical how little evidence the U.S. provided when it accused Venezuela’s President Maduro and several of the leaders of his government of narco-trafficking. The U.S. offered $15 million for the arrest of Maduro and $10 million for the others. Maduro, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said dramatically, “very deliberately deployed cocaine as a weapon.” Evidence for this? Not presented at all. It is surreal that the US – during the COVID19 global pandemic- chooses to put its efforts into this ridiculous, evidence-free indictment against Maduro and other members of the government.
A few hours before the announcement, word spread that the US was going to place Venezuela’s government on the “state sponsor of terrorism” list—the highest condemnation of a government. But they had to pause. And the pause itself came for absurd reasons. If the US accused Maduro’s government of being a “state sponsor of terrorism,” then it would be acknowledging that the Maduro government was indeed the government of Venezuela.
US State Department statement: $15 million reward for Nicolas Maduro for “drug trafficking”, Diosdado Cabello $10M “Today the U. S. Department of State announced a series of rewards for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Venezuelan nationals for whom the Department of Justice unsealed indictments today for their roles in international narcotics trafficking: Nicolás Maduro Moros, Diosdado Cabello Rondón, Hugo Carvajal Barrios, Clíver Alcalá Cordones, and Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah. The Department is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information related to Nicolás Maduro Moros. The Department is also offering rewards of up to $10 million each” for the others
Official Venezuela Communique: denounces new US attack on the basis of false and vulgar accusations The policy of change of government by force in Venezuela is doomed to fail. The offering of bounties, as in the Wild West, racist cowboys used to do, evidences the desperation of Washington’s supremacist elite and their obsession with Venezuela to achieve electoral support in Florida State.The deep frustration of the White House is a product of the peace that reigns nowadays in Venezuela, whose authorities have managed to neutralize all the coups and destabilizing attempts planned and financed by the United States…
WOLA: Beyond the Narcostate Narrative: What U.S. Drug Monitoring Data Says About Venezuela (full report here) But U.S government data suggests that Venezuela is not a primary transit country for U.S.-bound cocaine. U.S. policy toward Venezuela should be predicated on a realistic understanding of the transnational drug trade.
Recent data from the U.S. interagency Consolidated Counterdrug Database (CCDB) indicates that 210 metric tons of cocaine passed through Venezuela in 2018. By comparison, the State Department reports that over six times as much cocaine (1,400 metric tons) passed through Guatemala the same year.
Around 90 percent of all U.S.-bound cocaine is trafficked through Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific routes, not through Venezuela’s Eastern Caribbean seas. U.S. CCDB data shows that cocaine flows through Venezuela have fallen since peaking in 2017.
Venezuelanalysis: Venezuela Suspends Rent Payments, Protects Wages as Coronavirus Cases Rise Commercial and residential rent, as well as all capital and loan interest payments, are suspended for six months. Public and private sector workers will receive a special government bonus, and wages of small and midsize companies will be paid by the state until September. A workplace stability decree has been extended until the end of the year, outlawing job dismissals as a result of the quarantine. Loan appeals by small and medium businesses are to be fast-tracked, and a special agricultural investment plan will look to guarantee the contents of the subsidised CLAP food boxes for a reported seven million families. Telecommunications companies have also been barred from cutting off customers for six months.
Venezuelanalysis: UN, EU Urge Venezuela Sanctions Relief as Coronavirus Outbreak Intensifies In a letter addressed to the world’s twenty largest economies (G20), UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres advocated relief from international sanctions targeting Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Zimbabwe. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet likewise urged that broad sectoral sanctions targeting Venezuela, Cuba, and other nations be “eased or suspended” on the grounds that “impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”
In the midst of the pandemic, the US today is devoting efforts and resources to denigrating Cuban medical cooperation and threatening those countries that receive aid from the island’s health brigades.Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez stressed that despite the difficult situation, Cuba is modestly offering to provide some cooperation to those who need it.
“We have been dealing with the requests for medical assistance from several countries, which are asking for Cuban health personnel to deal with the crisis generated by Covid-19.”
Through its social networks, the U.S. embassy in Cuba is disseminating messages that attack the island’s medical cooperation.
The director general for the US in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, said that, at a time of crisis, when the northern nation is falling apart due to the negligence and greed of its government in dealing with Covid-19, the U.S. State Department criticizes nations that appeal to Cuba for medical assistance.’Terrible moral decadence,’ he stressed.
CNN: Coronavirus-hit countries are asking Cuba for medical help. Why is the US opposed? Cuba is offering to send doctors to more countries struggling with the coronavirus. But don’t accept their help, the US State Department says. As health care systems around the world are strained to the point of collapse, Cuban health care “brigades” have been invited to assist medical workers in Italy, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Suriname, Jamaica and Grenada. The hyper centralization of the Cuban government, which has been so disastrous for the island’s economy, makes Cuba extremely effective at disaster relief.
That same day, the Navy announced that a sailor tested positive for COVID-19 while stationed at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military base and prison facility maintained without permission on Cuban territory.
TeleSur: Cuba to Send Doctors to Four Caribbean Countries and Argentina This is in addition to Italy (53), China, Nicaragua, Venezuela (130) and Jamaica (144). The physicians will fight the pandemic in Belize (58), Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Argentina (500). The U.S. government “warns” those countries. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department criticized Cuban solidarity by depicting it as an act motivated by political and economic reasons.