On Wednesday, March 1, US President Joe Biden renewed a directive declaring a state of national emergency “with respect to the situation in Venezuela.” Titled Executive Order 13692, the measure was first implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2015 citing an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The EO was accompanied by sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials.
EO 13692, which has been renewed for another year, provides an expansive basis for the US to continue to impose illegal and brutal unilateral measures against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and socialist President Nicolás Maduro.
The US claims that EO 13692 “does not target the people or economy of Venezuela,” but focuses on individuals instead. However, especially in instances where the individuals targeted have been government officials, the impact of the sanctions has been much broader.
In 2021, following a visit to Venezuela, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Alena Douhan, noted that “the state of national emergency announced by the US Government on [March 8] 2015 as the ground for introducing sanctions against Venezuela, and repeatedly extended, does not correspond to the requirements of article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
She emphasized that the unilateral sanctions against Venezuela’s economic sectors including oil, mining, and gold constituted a “violation of international law.” Douhan added that “the announced purpose of the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign [under president Donald Trump]—to change the Government of Venezuela—[violated] the principle of sovereign equality of states and [constituted] an intervention in the domestic affairs of Venezuela.”
While the US and its allies have been defeated in their multiple attempts to overthrow President Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution, they have not ceased their attacks on Venezuela, using aggressive means like sanctions to undermine the country’s sovereignty, destroy its economy, and threaten the lives of its people.
President Biden has kept much of his predecessors’ harmful legacies in place, including the sweeping sanctions imposed on Venezuela under Trump in 2017 and again in 2019.
Sanctions, accompanied by an economic embargo and the illegal seizure of state assets, have led to a multifold rise in food insecurity and outbreaks of diseases, while denying hundreds of thousands of people access to medical treatment. They have also hindered the government’s ability to build or repair critical infrastructure, including water distribution systems and electricity supply.
These unilateral measures against Venezuela are a continuing violation of the very human rights that the US so boldly claims to defend.