Many of us Barbadians see the images presented to us by Western corporate media houses of Venezuelan refugees streaming across the country’s borders in a flight from economic hardships, and we are only too willing to conclude that the blame for this tragic state of affairs must lie with the socialist Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
But it would do us well to engage in a little hypothetical exercise – a little exercise in “supposing”.
Let us – for example – “suppose” that our own nation of Barbados was:
(1) made the subject of a law that was enacted by the United States Congress on 18th December 2014 entitled the Barbados Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, that set out a framework for the application of sanctions by the powerful US Government against Barbados – sanctions pertaining to the freezing of Barbadian assets in the US and to the prohibition of the import of Barbadian goods into the US;
(2) subjected – on 24th August 2017 – to a Decree or Executive Order of the President of the United States of America prohibiting financial transactions or other forms of business between US citizens / corporations and either the Government of Barbados or any of Barbados’ statutory corporations;
(3) subjected yet again – on 19th March 2018 – to a second President Trump Executive Order imposing new sanctions prohibiting US citizens / corporations trading in or in any way permitting usage of the Barbados dollar;
(4) targeted – on 18th May 2018 – with a third President Trump Executive Order imposing even more sanctions prohibiting any transactions connected with loan financing to the Barbados Government or to any entity in which the Government of Barbados has a shareholding of 50 per cent or more;
(5) faced with – in September 2017 – the Government of Canada enacting a “Regulation on Economic Matters” that froze the assets of specified Barbadian citizens and businesses in Canada, and prohibited any Canadian (resident anywhere in the world) from engaging in economic transactions or providing financial services to said Barbadian citizens and businesses;
(6) made the subject of three different sets of sanctions by the powerful European Union (EU) – on 13th November 2017 and 22nd January 2018 — that impose sanctions on a host of Barbadian governmental officials and institutions;
(7) targeted by the government of the United Kingdom via the adoption by the UK government, on 15th November 2017 and on 22nd January 2018, of a number of the European Union’s sanctions against Barbados;
and “suppose” that the combined effect of all of these sanctions was to: – decimate Barbados’ trade with the countries that it most depends on for importation of consumer items – the USA, Canada, the European Union, and the UK;
• severely restrict Barbados’ access to such goods as medicines, medical instruments, corn, wheat, soybean flour, other food items, refined oil products, chemical products, and the list goes on;
• make it extremely difficult for “third countries” to continue to trade with Barbados;
• decimate the value of the Barbados dollar;
• make it near impossible for Barbados to utilize the international banking and financial system;
• deprive Barbados of access to international credit and loans;
• cause the bank accounts of the Central Bank of Barbados and of Barbados’ most important state enterprises to be shut down in the USA;
• make it extremely difficult for Barbados to access and pay for imports;
and the never-ending list of negative effects goes on!
“Suppose” any of this had happened to Barbados over the past four years – what would the effect have been on the Barbadian economy and on the living conditions of the Barbadian people? And would we now be witnessing Barbadian refugees fleeing Barbados for greener pastures?
Of course, we are just “supposing” where Barbados is concerned, but the “reality” is that these particular unilateral sanctions or coercive measures have been imposed by the United States of America, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom against the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela between the 18th of December 2014 and the present day!
And, of course, when such unilateral sanctions are imposed by a State or a group of States in order to coerce another State and to provoke or bring about a change of government or some other change in its political affairs, this constitutes a breach of International Law and is therefore illegal!
(Please see the Resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council; the many UN General Assembly resolutions against the unilateral sanctions imposed by the USA on Cuba; and the numerous reports of the UN’s Independent Rapporteur on Unilateral Sanctions).
‘Why then, is no Western corporate media house referring to any of these sanctions when they telecast their news stories about suffering refugees fleeing from Venezuela?
And why aren’t all those governments and institutions that claim to be committed to International legality and morality making even a token protest against such flagrant breaches of International Law and of the fundamental human rights of the people of Venezuela?
Oh, where is our morality? Where is our sense of justice? Where is our belief in fairness and truth? What has become of our sacred duty to speak truth to power, and to come to the aid of a victim of bullying and injustice?
Caribbean Peace Movement