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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Michael Rowan: The Weakness of Enforcing Oil-for-Food Sanctions on Venezuela
On Sunday, Venezuela's former Ambassador to the U.N. Diego Arria published an editorial in LAHT calling for enforcing an Oil-for-Food Program on Venezuela. Long-time political advisor, writer and LAHT columnist Michael Rowan gives his thoughts on the prospects for that sanction.

By Michael Rowan

With great respect for Diego Arria and Moises Naim, the oil-for-food program in Venezuela that is suggested would be controlled to the last drop of milk and honey by the military, who will make of that barter the same larcenous profiteering that has occurred with Venezuela's currency, oil, food and if truth be told, cocaine, kidnapping and contract killing that has been escalating for almost two decades now.

Food cannot be distributed to 30 million Venezuelans by any external means like the Red Cross or the U.S. army. Look at FEMA, it can hardly distribute water to Puerto Ricans dying of thirst.

Sanctions are useful only when they cut off the infusion of money to the military mafia running the country.

Sanctions of Russian and Iranian oil companies severely impacted those nations, preventing a total takeover of Ukraine by Russia and prompting Obama's Iranian deal on nukes -- small gains you may say, but at least it was something. The least the U.S. can do is stop subsidizing the current regime with oil sales.

Yet Venezuela and North Korea may be another sort of thing.

Unlike Russia and Iran, Maduro -- who more and more resembles Kim Un of North Korea -- is intentionally isolating and controlling the Venezuelan population so that top military and political sycophants can enjoy $300 billion missing from public accounts over the life of the current "revolution for the poor" started in 1998.

If millions of Venezuelans die so that Maduro's kleptocrats can live, that will be considered "collateral damage" in a necessary defense of the regimes. And it will be blamed on the U.S. as Castro and Chavez well taught.

There is no civil or political solution to Venezuela's crisis -- either internally or externally.

Voting is not an operable internal solution nor is the legislature or the judiciary. Forget it.

Condemnation by the world is equally powerless. The weaknesses of the population and the world both strengthen the resolve of the regime, which will do anything -- translate that as "any thing" to survive.

It is possible that after an oil embargo of Venezuela by the U.S., an internal upheaval occurs, spurred by the conscience of regime insiders that the killing and starving must stop. However looking at North Korea and Cuba as models, I admit the possibility that we may have to wait decades more before the upheaval occurs. Millions may be sacrificed as a result. It is a conundrum.

The situation is intolerable and impossible in the same respect. Waiting for it to change, waiting for the conscience of a few to save the children, is intolerable. But imagining any other internal or external intervention is impossible. This is the tragedy of Venezuela -- and the U.S., which stood by and watched this happen as if it was entirely normal. The suffering has just begun.

Click Here to Read Ambassador Diego Arria's Column Calling for Oil-for-Food Sanctions on Venezuela

Michael Rowan is an author and political consultant who has advised presidential candidates throughout Latin America, including Governor Manuel Rosales in Venezuela, President Jaime Paz Zamora of Bolivia and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. In the U.S., he has advised winning candidates in 26 states. He has been an award winning columnist for El Universal, The Daily Journal -- predecessor to LAHT -- and the Latin American Herald Tribune since the 1990s. He is the author, with Douglas Schoen, of The Threat Closer to Home - Hugo Chavez and the War Against America.


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