The US is slapping far-reaching sanctions on Venezuela in its bid to re-assert hemispheric dominance over what National Security Advisor Bolton dubbed a “Troika of tyranny” in a groan-worthy throwback to Bush’s “axis of evil.”
Trump has authorized even stricter sanctions against Venezuela, ostensibly targeting the country’s gold sector but actually going after anyone and everyone deemed “to have directly or indirectly engaged” in “deceptive practices or corruption” relating to the Venezuelan government by the Secretary of State. Without defining any of those terms, the administration has written itself a blank check to wage economic warfare against the already-suffering nation.
National Security Advisor John Bolton delivered the news at Miami’s Freedom Tower, once the first port of call for Cuban refugees fleeing the government of Fidel Castro. Bolton hinted at plans for sanctions against Cuba and Nicaragua as well, lumping the three socialist nations into his geopolitical naughty-corner.
“This triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere,” Bolton said in what may be the world’s most jaw-dropping case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Venezuela poses no actual threat to the US, though you’d be forgiven for thinking it did to hear Bolton’s speech. Trump’s administration claims leaders in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras blame Maduro’s government for organizing and financing the migrant caravans currently creeping toward the US border. Meanwhile, the socialist republic sits on the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, sending the US into paroxysms of rage even as it purchases Venezuela’s oil in record quantities.
Trump also slapped sanctions on more than 24 operations owned or controlled by the Cuban military and intelligence services, claiming retaliation for Cuban efforts to aid Maduro’s government.
The administration used political unrest stemming from President Ortega’s changes to the social security program as an excuse to zero in on Nicaragua, claiming the US wants “free and fair elections” in the country and once again showing absolutely no sense of irony – particularly since it was this same President Ortega whose regime fought off US-backed Contra guerrillas during the 1980s.
The US Treasury Department claims Venezuela’s gold mines are run by criminal gangs in an “environmentally disastrous” manner. Meanwhile, Bolton praised the election in Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to end environmental conservation efforts and open the Amazon rainforest to loggers. The Trump administration has presided over its own massive rollback of environmental regulations and slashed the budget of agencies tasked with protecting the country’s air and water.
The US has inflated claims of violence by all three “Troika” regimes while funding anti-government groups in the three countries through front groups like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. In August, Maduro was attacked by an explosive-loaded drone in an apparent assassination attempt during a military parade. He blamed the attack on far-right elements backed by the US and Colombia.
George W. Bush introduced the “Axis of Evil” in a speech written by David Frum shortly after kicking off the War on Terror, which is still chugging along, 17 years and trillions of dollars later. Back then, the bad boys were Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Bush’s cabinet hoped to take down Iran after finishing with Iraq but ended up spending billions of dollars and the better part of a decade dealing with an insurgency by the Iraqi people, who – surprise! – didn’t greet the American invaders as liberators.
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