Saturday, March 28, 2020

Canadians need to demand an immediate end to criminal imperialist sanctions

Cuban medical team arrives in Belize to help fight the coronavirus outbreak
As the capitalist coronavirus crisis increasingly highlights the inability of the "advanced" capitalist countries to even take care of their own citizens adequately let alone engage in international solidarity actions, socialist Cuba has risen to the occasion.

Cuba has a long tradition of humanitarian internationalism and has sent doctors around the world for decades to help in times of crisis or to build public health infrastructure (see: "The miracle we are performing...could not be performed in a capitalist society" -- Cuban socialism's remarkable accomplishments despite the criminal, imperialist blockade). As the Cuba Solidarity Campaign noted in an open letter against the continuing criminal American blockade of the island:
The island’s altruistic response to the global emergency continues a long history of Cuban humanitarianism. In the last 56 years 400,000 Cuban health workers have responded to natural disasters and helped build health services in 164 nations. This includes sending medical brigades to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Kashmiri earthquake (2005), to Haiti to assist with the devastating cholera outbreak following the earthquake (2010), and to West Africa in the region’s fight against Ebola (2015). Cuba has also trained 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at its Latin American Medical School since 1998.
Despite American attempts to slander these efforts, Cuba is pursuing them now and providing desperately needed medical aid in spite of the blockade. The letter noted some of these:
In recent days the island has sent highly skilled medical brigades to many countries including Italy, Grenada, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Venezuela to support foreign health services overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.
On 18 March the Cuban government offered safe haven to passengers of the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar allowing it to dock in Havana when many other countries had refused. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab publicly thanked Cuba for this assistance in a statement to the UK parliament.
It has also made its anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha B available to nations around the world to help in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19.
In fact, over 45 countries have asked Cuba for Interferon to treat Covid-19. In addition to the above, Cuba is sending doctors to Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Argentina. Countries like Brazil, whose government expelled Cuban doctors from communities when fascist Bolsonaro took power, are asking for Cuban doctors to return.

Meanwhile, in contrast to this kind of humanitarian work the United States continues to impose cruel and sweeping economic sanctions not only against Cuba but also countries like Venezuela and Iran.

In the case of Venezuela the Americans are actually increasing the pressure with absurd criminal charges against some of the country's leaders including placing a $15 million bounty on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro himself like out of some pathetic old John Wayne movie.

The World Peace Council outlined the barbarity of the situation in a statement on March 27:
This decision of the US-administration constitutes not only a further escalation in the provocations, coercive measures and interference against a sovereign country, it proves also the cynical and arrogant approach of the USA, which is using the critical times of the pandemic of COVID 19 worldwide, to impose new additional sanctions on the country and its people. The people of Venezuela are already suffering from the sanctions and restrictions imposed by the US imperialists and its allies from EU and the “Lima Group”, which do not allow the country to purchase medicine and other vital products since more than one year. It is the same forces who recognize a self-proclaimed puppet as their “chosen leader” against any legitimacy, logic and international law and it is the same forces which do not allow during the COVID 19 crisis the country to buy and provide technical equipment and health products for the National Health System in the international markets.
The Lima Group, of course, is essentially led by Canada.

The International Monetary Fund also refused a plea by the Venezuelan government for $5 billion in emergency relief

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova quite rightly stated that American sanctions against Venezuela under these circumstances could result in an avoidable humanitarian catastrophe that would amount to a genocide.

There are mounting global calls to end or ease the sanctions to avoid the possible deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has spoken out. Talking about continued American efforts against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and other countries she noted:
The majority of these states have frail or weak health systems...obstacles to the import of vital medical supplies, including over-compliance with sanctions by banks, will create long-lasting harm to vulnerable communities. The populations in these countries are in no way responsible for the policies being targeted by sanctions, and to varying degrees have already been living in a precarious situation for prolonged periods.
Even in the empire itself some politicians are demanding a change of course.  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as well as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called for sanctions to be at least partially waived. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy penned a letter co-signed by 10 other Democrats in Congress also calling for this that read in part:
It hurts our nation’s security and our moral standing in the world when our sanctions policy results in innocent people dying. I am particularly concerned about the impact of sanctions on the COVID-19 response in Iran and Venezuela.
It is essential that pressure is put on the American administration to end the criminal sanctions before it is too late.

Canada has played a disgraceful role in trying to sanction and overthrow the democratically elected, legitimate government of Venezuela.

Despite this, and despite Canada's alleged opposition to the blockade of Cuba and many of the sanctions against Iran, there has not been a peep from the Trudeau government in recent days demanding even just a temporary suspension.

Nor has Canada's "social democratic" party, the NDP -- whose position on Venezuela is perhaps best described as incoherent support for American sock puppet stooge Guaido -- had anything officially to say.

The time is long overdue for all progressive Canadians to demand an end to the sanctions immediately. Continuing to impose them on countries during a global pandemic cannot be seen as anything other than a crime against humanity.

Canadians have to decide if they want their government to be complicit in it.

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