Response to the questionnaire submitted by Alena Douhan, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on the enjoyment of Human Rights.
The REDH constitutes a movement of thought and action against all forms of domination and exclusion. It emerged in 2003 at the initiative of prominent Mexican and Cuban intellectuals, and it was consolidated in 2004, in Venezuela during an event that brought together more than 400 representatives from 52 countries, in the meeting it was agreed “on the need to build a barrier of resistance against the world domination that is being imposed”.
Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on the enjoyment of Human Rights
We, at the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements- Venezuelan Chapter, a Social Movement linked to the Network in Defense of Humanity, through our coordinator, Luis Britto García, have the pleasure of writing to you on the occasion of giving a response to the questionnaire submitted by you during your official visit to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In this regard we express:
- ¿What specific human rights are affected by the unilateral sanctions policies applied to Venezuela?
-The unilateral coercive measures directed at the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as a set of strategies, operations and attacks aimed at forcing a political change by deteriorating the quality of life of its population as a whole, affect all of its Human Rights. However, we note that among others, particularly damaged are the right to social security provided for in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations:
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national efforts and international co-operation, and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Unilateral coercive measures also affect the right to work, enshrined in Article 23 of said declaration:
- Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
- Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself, as well as his family, an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
- Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
As strategies aimed at inflicting harm on the population as a whole, unilateral coercive measures also affect the right to quality of life and social security, provided for in articles 24 and 25:
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
- Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
- Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children born in or out of wedlock shall enjoy the same social protection.
By seeking a critical reduction in public income and the standard of living, the coercive measures also harm the right to education and culture, recognized in articles 26 and 27 of the aforementioned Declaration:
- Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
- Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
- Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
- Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
- Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
By massively attacking the rights of an entire population with illegitimate coercive measures, the aggressor countries make it urgent for the provisions of Articles 28 and 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations to be enforced.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
Can you give examples of violation of particular rights by unilateral sanctions?
– Since the last century, the main victim of any conflict has been the civilian population, that is, individuals and their rights. To hurt the population, the United States unleashes massive robbery against Venezuela. Ultimas Noticias reported on May 24, 2019 that at the behest of the United States, fifty foreign banks have blocked accounts for 5,470,030,645 dollars. Supported by that country, a presumed president (elected by no one) takes the Venezuelan facilities of the oil company, Citgo. The Network in Defense of Humanity agrees with the figure of US $ 117,110 million in economic losses caused by the criminal attack by the United States against the Venezuelan people, enough to import food and medicine for 26 years for the entire population. The report Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela by Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker, estimates that the number fatal victims due to the blockade against Venezuela are more than 40,000 people. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza cites the figure without refuting it. The calculation is based on apparent increases in death rate not attributable to any specific cause. These are not based on official figures, but on estimates from two private NGOs, which lack the means to keep a detailed records on the matter, and which could be influenced by the opposition plan to make it seem as there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, to legitimize an intervention and the disintegration of the country. In any case, it is obvious that unilateral coercive measures designed to prevent Venezuela from selling its products abroad or importing, plus the illegitimate appropriation of its assets abroad, produce serious economic effects that are translated into violation of human rights.
Another set of examples is provided by international communicator and analyst, Maurice Lemoine, in a text published on August 7, 2020:
“On the one hand, 6 million families benefit from subsidized products guaranteed by the government, despite the enormous difficulties caused by the economic and financial blockade. On the other hand, the United States Department of the Treasury has just sanctioned a dozen shipping companies for offering their services to the oil industry of ‘dictator Maduro’, it is putting pressure on companies, ship owners, insurance companies, port authorities around the world, pushing them away from any transaction with the ‘pariah’ country. Since 2017, many financial institutions have closed Venezuelan accounts, fearing retaliation from Washington for ‘money laundering.’ The Mexican company Libre Abordo declared bankruptcy, forced by the United States to stop its activity: the exchange of food and other basic products for Venezuelan oil. Billions of dollars in assets that Caracas possesses abroad (United States, Colombia, Europe) are simply looted by the gangs of Trump and Guaidó. Since June 22, the British court of Justice is examining who, between Maduro and Guaidó, will receive more than a billion dollars of gold stored in the coffers of the Bank of England belonging to Venezuela. The legitimate power has been demanding [the funds] since 2018 (long before the invention of the ‘puppet president’) and now more than ever, for ‘humanitarian reason’…’ Thursday, July 9, 2020 (https://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/208346 )
To continue providing particular examples, we refer to the situation of Venezuelan children with serious chronic diseases admitted to various centers, including the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires. The Venezuelan government paid for its complex treatments with resources supplied to the Simón Bolívar Foundation from the Venezuelan company Citgo, located in the United States. The president of the Latin American Foundation for Human Rights and Social Development (Fundalatin), Virginia King, warned on October 12, 2020 that the US blockade of Citgo funds prevented the payment of the treatment. In Venezuela, four minors died at the beginning of that year while waiting for bone marrow transplants, for the same cause. “The health program with Italy (to do transplants) was executed through CITGO (an oil refining company), confiscated by the US. Venezuela sent the funds through PDVSA and they were held in Novo Banco, Portugal, thanks to sanctions and the criminal blockade” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza posted on Twitter on May 27. The president of the Venezuelan section of Fundalatin, María Eugenia Russián, warned that 90% of children with chronic diseases in Venezuela are in danger due to the US blockade. ( https://www.aa.com.tr/es/mundo/-qu%C3%A9-hay-detr%C3%A1s-de-las-muertes-de-ni%C3%B1os-venezolanos-a- the-waiting-for-transplants-of-m% C3% A9dula-% C3% B3sea / 1493600 ).
These are, as requested, particular examples; but through them we can see what has happened as a result of more than a five-year blockade and theft of Venezuelan assets abroad.
- What types of sanctions have the most negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights in Venezuela?
-The unilateral coercive measures that have the most negative effects on the enjoyment of human rights in Venezuela are:
- a) The confiscation of the international reserves of the country placed in banking institutions abroad, despite that the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property prohibits measures against such assets, as they are presumed intended for public interest purposes. As a mere example of such measures, we note that the Bank of England retains 32 tons of gold from Venezuela’s international reserves. A UK court ruled that such assets should be placed back at the disposal of the legitimate government; Before such measure was fulfilled, a new decision by a British superior court once again withheld the gold that Venezuela requires to fulfill its commitments and with social investment.
- b) The confiscation without compensation of assets or companies abroad owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This criminal maneuver contravenes Article 18 of the aforementioned UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property, which states: “No pre-judgment measures of constraint, such as attachment or arrest, against property of a State may be taken in connection with a proceeding before a court of another State unless and except to the extent that: (a) the State has expressly consented to the taking of such measures as indicated: (i) by international agreement;(ii) by an arbitration agreement or in a written contract; or (iii) by a declaration before the court or by a written communication after a dispute between the parties has arisen; or (b) the State has allocated or earmarked property for the satisfaction of the claim which is the object of that proceeding.”
If such is the situation in relation to property that is the subject of a dispute, measures cannot be applied after the ruling has been passed, in accordance with the provisions of Article 19 of the aforementioned Convention: “No post-judgment measures of constraint, such as attachment, arrest or execution, against property of a State may be taken in connection with a proceeding before a court of another State unless and except to the extent that: (a) the State has expressly consented to the taking of such measures as indicated: (i) by international agreement; (ii) by an arbitration agreement or in a written contract; or (iii) by a declaration before the court or by a written communication after a dispute between the parties has arisen; or (b) the State has allocated or earmarked property for the satisfaction of the claim which is the object of that proceeding; or (c) it has been established that the property is specifically in use or intended for use by the State for other than government non-commercial purposes and is in the territory of the State of the forum, provided that post-judgment measures of constraint may only be taken against property that has a connection with the entity against which the proceeding was directed.”
An emblematic example of this policy is the seizure of the CITGO refinery and distribution station complex located in the United States.
- c) The embargo or immobilization of all types of ships and vehicles owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, or by other States, or by individuals, to prevent them from carrying their products abroad or importing essential goods for the consumption of Venezuelans or the restocking of their production systems.
- d) Economic retaliation measures against countries or companies that maintain commercial relations with Venezuela, prohibiting withdrawals or making the threat of making such withdrawals prohibited.
- e) The threatening military deployment of naval air units to inhibit navigation to or from Venezuela, such as the military exercises in the Caribbean of the 6th Fleet of the United States in April 2020, and military exercises with intimidating purposes carried out on the borders of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, with the participation of troops from the armies of those countries.
- f) The pressures on credit rating agencies to artificially raise the country risk index and consequently make it difficult for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to obtain credits abroad or to pay unusual or exorbitant interest. In the last century, Venezuela has paid in a comprehensive and timely manner its external public debt debts.
- What sectors of the population are most affected by the unilateral sanctions in Venezuela? Please provide examples.
-In general terms, the impact by unilateral coercive measures is directly proportional to the situation of deprivation of social groups. In this regard, we share the expressions of the Alternate Ambassador of Venezuela to the UN Joaquín Pérez Ayestarán, who in an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet on October 15 of this year, accused the United States of “ the crime of extermination by applying, in a systematic way and in flagrant violation of the UN Charter, unilateral coercive measures to destroy the Venezuelan population”, with sanctions that are “mass violations of human rights”.
We provide examples on the subject in the course of this presentation.
- Is the mechanism for obtaining licenses for the purchase of various categories of goods viable under the sanctions regime? Does it foresee the possibility of guaranteeing the basic needs of the population?
-The licensing mechanism is unreliable, considering the way in which humanitarian measures have been ignored even in the difficult situation imposed by the pandemic. Indeed, on July 1, 2020 “The Security Council of the United Nations Organization approved an agreement that supports the request of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to reach a global truce during the Covid-19 pandemic”. It should be added that the resolution was approved unanimously and called for a “general and immediate cessation of hostilities” in all conflicts that appear on the Security Council’s agenda (Ultimas Noticias, July 1, 2020). Despite the timely, necessary, and essential nature of such a unanimously approved humanitarian truce, the armed conflicts have continued to this day. It is feared that any other humanitarian measure will be breached by the aggressor powers. However, it is appropriate to try to activate said mechanism, since the seriousness of the unilateral coercive actions against Venezuela does not allow any appeal to be dismissed.
- How does the application of unilateral sanctions affect rights to migrate to and from Venezuela?
-Firstly, it is necessary to specify what is the real magnitude of Venezuelan emigration. Venezuela has traditionally been a country of immigration that has welcomed immigrants from all countries cordially and without discrimination; to the extent that in the middle of the last decade, President Nicolás Maduro revealed that our country had 5,600,000 Colombians, a considerable figure if one takes into account that they are from a single country, and that at the same time the population Venezuelan had around 30 million inhabitants. The United States government and opposition sources and NGOs present exaggerated figures of supposed Venezuelan emigration of around four million inhabitants, with the aim of justifying a “humanitarian intervention” that would de facto translate into an occupation of the country. Such speculations are denied by such unsuspected sources of sympathy for Venezuela as the website of the Central Intelligence Agency -CIA. It reports that during the year 2018 the net migration rate in Venezuela was -1.2 migrants / 1,000 inhabitants, a rate that measures the difference between people entering and leaving the country for one year per 1,000 inhabitants. According to this rate, given that we are 31,689,175 inhabitants, in 2018 38,027 people emigrated, in net terms, and not 3,400,000 as stated by Mike Pence in the UN Security Council. Similar results show the figures of the Mundi Index for the same year.
Another aspect is the quality of the Venezuelan migration. A report published by the Economic Studies Service of BBVA Research on Venezuelans in Peru highlights that they work 20 more hours, have better health and on average have better education than Peruvians. “Most of the Venezuelan emigrants are engineers, business administrators, teachers, lawyers, accountants and nurses. And those with technical careers are mostly computer and systems administrators or analysts. There are also mechanics, nurses, accountants, communicators and even journalists”. Their work would have improved the country’s economy, as the BBVA report adds: “We estimate that in 2018 potential GDP grew 4.4%, almost one percentage point more than it would have increased if the migration of Venezuelan citizens had not occurred” (Elizabeth Sources: El Cooperante, Emisora Costa del Sol FM 10-14-2019 )
In any case, unilateral coercive measures, by contributing to the deterioration of economic conditions, could have contributed to an increase in emigration from Venezuela, the real amount of which has yet to be determined. Part of it could be made up of immigrants from other Latin American countries, who return to their countries of origin.
On the other hand, between 2019 and 2020 large contingents of Venezuelan emigrants have returned to their country. Colombia Migration reports on July 21, 2020 that “More than 90,000 Venezuelans have returned to Venezuela from Colombia during the pandemic” (https://www.france24.com/es/20200721-venezuela-migrantes-colombia-retorno-coronavirus). These are people returning from a single country, in six months. There may have been comparable re-entries from other neighboring countries.
- How does the application of unilateral sanctions affect the unemployment rate in Venezuela?
-The unilateral coercive measures have promoted a significant increase in bankruptcies of small and medium enterprises, which in turn has caused a correlative loss of jobs, and an increase in informal employment.
The unemployment rate for 2017 was 6.1%; for 2018, 6.4%, according to the following table
Unemployment in Venezuela
|Rate of unemployment||6.4%||6.1%|
|Unemployment difference men / women||0.4%||0.4%|
- Does the existing economic situation foresee the possibility of guaranteeing the needs of the unemployed, people with disabilities, indigenous people, children, pregnant women in Venezuela?
– Since the beginning of the 20th century, in Venezuela the distribution of income showed a progressive tendency to reduce inequality. During the Bolivarian government 1999-2012, the Gini index was reduced from 0.486 (1998) to 0.390 (2011), making us the country with the lowest inequality index in capitalist Latin America. This generalized decrease in inequality worked in favor of these disadvantaged groups. It is appropriate to add that from the end of the last century to the present day, pensions for older adults went from favoring some 350,000 to about 3,500,000 seniors, another of the groups most in need of social support.
- What measures has the government of Venezuela adopted to guarantee the rights of the affected population and the general population: social programs, support for the most vulnerable categories, restructuring of the economy, search for new commercial partners, etc.?
– Venezuela’s Human Development Index improved from 0.699 in 2000 to 0.764 in 2013. This placed us among the countries with a High Human Development Index.
The distribution of public spending determined these results. Social investment with respect to GDP was 11.3% in 1998, and almost doubled, rising to 19.2% in 2013. Social investment with respect to National Income was 37.2% in 1988, for 2013 it amount to 60.7%. Since the beginning of this century, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has significantly increased the percentage of public spending allocated to social investment -subsidized food, education, culture, health, housing, welfare programs- to the present day to 74% of the expenditure budget.
This increase in social investment operated through a multiplicity of social projects aimed precisely at guaranteeing the needs of the unemployed, people with disabilities, indigenous people, children, pregnant women and the lower-income sectors, essentially through institutions of collaboration between the government and social movements called Misiones. Among them, the Barrio Adentro Mission stands out, bringing medical care to marginalized sectors, and the Housing Mission, which has delivered nearly 3,500,000 housing units to as many families.
The Bolivarian government has done everything possible to maintain these social projects as a priority. But the devaluation of the currency has drastically affected the purchasing power and the effects of that generous portion of public spending; obstacles to export and import and the theft of international reserves have seriously affected the economy to a degree yet to be determined, jeopardizing the continuity of such initiatives, as well as their achievements.
- How is the private sector in Venezuela affected by the imposition of unilateral sanctions?
– Unilateral coercive measures have had serious effects on the general economy and the private sector of Venezuela. The president of the Federation of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Fedecámaras, Carlos Larrazábal, said on March 21, 2019 that in Venezuela there were only 3,500 of the 12,500 private companies that used to be in the country. (https://www.eluniversal.com/economia/35896/3500-empresas-quedan-en-el-pais-segun-fedecamaras). It surely refers to large and medium-sized companies; the number of the small ones is much greater.
According to figures from the Central Bank of Venezuela from October 2019, the commerce sector suffered a drop of 39.2% during the first quarter of that year, the construction sector fell 74.1% compared to the first quarter of the previous year; manufacturing fell 56.3%, financial institutions and insurance contracted 55.6%, community social services and private personal 47%, trade and repair services 39.2%, mining 37.2%, transportation and storage 38.2%. Such extreme figures are due in large part to the blockade, and they evidently translate into an increase in the bankruptcy of small and medium-sized companies and a fall in the supply of goods and services, as well as the job opportunities and services available to the population. In their aggression against a moderately socialist government, the states that apply unilateral coercive measures have done very seriously harm to private capitalist companies.
- Can excess compliance with unilateral sanctions be identified? What human rights are affected by over compliance?
-In fact, unilateral coercive measures are in themselves excessive, and are not based on any legitimate norm. No country has the right, without a declaration of war, to block another, prevent its exports and imports, loot its international reserves and heritage assets located abroad, harass it by promoting invasions by paramilitaries, assassinations and attempts to destabilize, and threaten similar measures to other states, companies or individuals that try to trade or have any kind of relations and exchanges with the victim country.
- What is the impact of the sectorial sanctions on the Human Rights of the population?
– Venezuela can more than demonstrate that it is a victim of war crimes and crimes against humanity contemplated in the Rome Statute. Apparently this rule refers to acts committed in war; but perpetrating them without declaring it makes them even more illegitimate and abominable. And in fact a 4th generation war is being waged against our country, the primary target of which is the civilian population.
Thus, Article 7 of the Rome Statute classifies as crimes against humanity “k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”; Article 8 “xiii) Destroying or seaizing the enemy’s property unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war; Article 8 “xxv) Intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impending relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions.” These norms cover the inhuman blockade designed to intentionally starve the Venezuelan population and deprive it of objects essential to its survival; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health of it; as well as the pillage against our goods and deposits abroad.
- What measures has the Government of Venezuela taken to comply with the recommendations of international organizations for the stabilization of the economy and the repression of crime?
-The international organizations are many and their recommendations may be contradictory or interested or alien to the national reality. In matters of public order, Venezuela acts according to its own appreciation of the facts and the defense of its sovereignty. For the stabilization of its economy, Venezuela applies all diplomatic measures that could induce a suspension of unilateral coercive measures that in turn would allow free and full relations with all the countries of the world, without abdicating its independence and integrity.
Regarding the repression of crime, Venezuela has adopted decisive measures. It has increased the standard of living of the inhabitants despite the unilateral coercive measures, the blockade and numerous attempts of invasion, assassination and destabilization. It has adopted simplified brief oral trial procedures to reduce the number of inmates awaiting sentencing. It has created a University of Security, to continue to the third and even the fourth level the training of professionals in police investigation. A laborious prison reform has been advancing since the beginning of the century. This topic would require more space to cover its development than is available at the present time.
- Individuals and organizations with whom the Special Rapporteur should meet during her visit to the country.
We suggest the following people, for their outstanding intellectual work and for not holding any public office, except for the occasional teaching job:
Mario Sanoja , anthropologist, historian. [email protected]
Iraida Vargas, archaeologist, historian. iraida.va[email protected]
Vladimir Acosta, writer, narrator [email protected]
Pasqualina Curcio Curcio, economist, researcher [email protected]
Luis Britto Garcia
Doctor of Law
Coordinator of the Network of Intellectuals,
Artists and Social Movements
In Defense of Humanity-Venezuela Chapter
ID: V. 2115056
Network blog address: https : //redhvenezuela.blogspot.com/
Tel. 0212 9914161
Address: Quinta Luisa 113-620
Main Avenue Urbanization Santa Marta