10 July 2019 — Counter Currents
Economic experts have determined that Trump American sanctions on the impoverished state of Venezuela have so far been associated with 5 million refugees and 80,000 excess deaths from deprivation in the last 2 years (alternative estimates are of 45,000 -173,000 such deaths). The Organization of American States predicts 8 million Venezuelan refugees by the end of 2020. Decent Humanity must utterly condemn and oppose this passive mass murder of Venezuelans by a morally degenerate Trump America.
Yet these criminal and deadly sanctions imposed on an impoverished Venezuela by rich Trump America are backed by other obscenely wealthy but morally degenerate allies of Trump America, including the UK, other US lackey Western European countries and, of course, by craven US lackey, Australia that supports removal of the democratically-elected Venezuelan Government. It is disgusting that the world’s richest countries have ganged up to destroy an impoverished country, Venezuela. Yet that is precisely what the wealthy US Alliance has been doing to scores of impoverished countries since the end of WW2, noting that in these impoverished, high birth rate countries about 50% of the population are children and about 70% of avoidable deaths from deprivation are of under-5 year old infants .
A message so obvious and so fundamental that it is not even enunciated specifically in the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill children”. It should therefore be unexceptional to state that the world should respond to this sanctions-driven, passive mass murder of infants and children with Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the perpetrator politicians (notably Donald Trump and Theresa May), perpetrator countries (notably the US and UK) and their craven allies (notably US lackey Australia and Western Europe).
Set out below are some expert opinions about this horrifying and ongoing crime of passive mass murder by Trump America.
Progressive and humanitarian writer Susan Price writing in Green Left Weekly on excess deaths from US sanctions on Venezuela (2019): “US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in 2017 contributed to the deaths of more than 40,000 people last year, according to a new report — and this figure is set to rise due to the latest round of sanctions. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research report co-authored by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot, the 2017 sanctions deprived Venezuela of billions of dollars it needed to pay for essential food and medicine, leading to a rise in disease and mortality and the displacement of millions seeking to flee the worsening situation. The report states: “The sanctions exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilise the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans””.
Dr Mark Weisbrot (eminent anti-racist Jewish American economist, co-founder of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research and President of Just Foreign Policy) and Professor Jeffrey Sachs (eminent anti-racist Jewish American economist, Earth Institute, distinguished University Professor at 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University) in their expert report on over 40,000 sanctions-derived excess deaths per year in Venezuela (2019): “This paper looks at some of the most important impacts of the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US government since August of 2017. It finds that most of the impact of these sanctions has not been on the government but on the civilian population. The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans. Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves. We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018 [i.e. 80,000 from mid-2017 to mid-2019]; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well… According to the National Survey on Living Conditions (ENCOVI by its acronym in Spanish), an annual survey of living conditions administered by three Venezuelan universities, there was a 31 percent increase in general mortality from 2017 to 2018. This would imply an increase of more than 40,000 deaths [per year]” .
Michael Stott writing in the Financial Times on US-imposed famine and consequent 5 million refugees from Venezuela (2019): “As the refugee exodus from once-wealthy Venezuela accelerates, concerns are mounting over the extent to which US economic sanctions are exacerbating the suffering of a population already beset by shortages of food, medicine and fuel. Punitive US measures have included cutting off Venezuela’s access to most of the US financial system, freezing the assets of key government officials associated with President Nicolás Maduro and of the national oil company PDVSA, banning transactions with the Venezuelan central bank and prohibiting oil and gold sales. Targeting the oil industry is crucial as it accounts for more than 95 per cent of Venezuela’s export revenues. As crude oil sales plunge, Venezuela has ever fewer dollars with which to import food, medicines and other necessities. Estimates of oil production lie between 740,000 and 850,000 barrels a day, far short of the 2.3m b/d level which Venezuela sustained as recently as 2016. “We’re going to see a famine in Venezuela,” [Venezuelan economist] Mr Rodriguez said. “Total imports in April were only $303m and around half of those were oil-related. That is just 8 per cent of the 2012 figure . . . even if all the imports were of food, it would still be far off the amount needed to feed the country.” The human cost of Venezuela’s crisis is rising fast. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 5m people will have fled the country by the end of this year while the Organization of American States predicts that the exodus will top 8m by the end of next year” .
70 scholars on Latin America, political science, and history as well as filmmakers, civil society leaders, and other experts – notably including Professor Noam Chomsky of 93 Nobel Laureate MIT, Dr Mark Weisbrot (co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research), Professor William Robinson (sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara) and outstanding expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger – have signed a January 2019 Open Letter condemning the illegal and deadly US intervention in Venezuela and stating in part: “The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability… Problems resulting from Venezuelan government policy have been worsened by US economic sanctions, illegal under the Organization of American States and the United Nations ― as well as US law and other international treaties and conventions. These sanctions have cut off the means by which the Venezuelan government could escape from its economic recession, while causing a dramatic falloff in oil production and worsening the economic crisis, and causing many people to die because they can’t get access to life-saving medicines. Meanwhile, the US and other governments continue to blame the Venezuelan government ― solely ― for the economic damage, even that caused by the US sanctions. Now the US and its allies, including OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, have pushed Venezuela to the precipice” .
Fact check – alternative estimations of Venezuelan deaths from imposed deprivation, 2017-2019.
The US regarded Venezuela with intense hatred when it was ruled by President Hugo Chavez in the period 1998-2013 and this US hatred and subversion continued under his successor, President Nicolas Maduro . According to the US Congressional Research Service (2019): “For more than a decade, the United States has employed sanctions as a policy tool in response to activities of the Venezuelan government and Venezuelan individuals” . Sanctions were variously emplaced against individual Venezuelans in 2015 by US President Barack Obama who declared that Venezuela was a “threat to its national security”. However damaging economic sanctions were applied by Trump America to the Venezuelan Government and Venezuela’s state-oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) from in mid-2017 onwards. Thus in August 2017 Trump issued Executive Order 13808, which prohibited access to the U.S. financial markets by the Venezuelan government, including PdVSA . Trump subsequently ramped up these sanctions further with exclusions and confiscation of assets, and was joined in this by various US lackeys (notably the UK) as reflected in progressively huge decreases in Venezuela’s vital oil production .
Poverty kills and imposed deprivation through hegemony, subversion, sanctions and war is deadly. Thus 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year on Spaceship Earth with an endlessly greedy and merciless America in charge of the flight deck . In countries invaded by the US Alliance since 1950, civilian deaths from imposed deprivation exceed violent deaths of Indigenous people, and vastly exceed deaths of the invading military [1, 8-11]. Thus, for example, in Iraq (1990-2011), 4.6 million Iraqis died from violence, 1.7 million, or from war- or sanctions-imposed deprivation, 2.9 million [9, 10], but US Alliance combatant deaths totalled about 4,900 .
In relation to “enemy” casualties, US General Tommy Franks notoriously stated “We don’t do body counts”. However avoidable Indigenous deaths from imposed deprivation can be readily estimated from UN data as the difference between the actual deaths in a country and the deaths expected for a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics (birth rate, proportion of children) .
Whether a child dies avoidably from imposed deprivation or from bashing, bullets or bombs, the death is just as final, and the perpetrator culpability just the same. Indeed in countries actually occupied by rich US Alliance countries, huge deaths from imposed deprivation provide evidence of massive war crimes in gross violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Articles 55 and 56 of which state unambiguously that an Occupier must provide the conquered Subjects with life-sustaining food and medical services “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” [1, 13].
The US Alliance resolutely ignores the horrendous consequences of its various sanctioning, hegemonic subversion, invasion and occupation of numerous other countries since WW2, but a rare exception occurred when US journalist Lesley Stahl asked US UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright on “60 minutes” in 1996: “We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright disgustingly replied “We think the price is worth it” [10, 14].
The UN Population Division provides detailed and regularly updated demographic data (and projections) on every country in the world for the period 1950 onwards . For Venezuela in 2018, the population was 28,887,000, the birth rate 18.0 births per thousand of population per year, and the births totalled 519,966. However the under-5 infant death rate was 31 deaths per thousand births and thus under-5 infant deaths totalled 16,119 in 2018 and 32,238 for the 2 year period from mid-2017-mid 2019.
Now for impoverished , high birth rate countries like Venezuela the avoidable deaths from deprivation (avoidable mortality, excess deaths, excess mortality, premature deaths, untimely deaths, deaths that should not have happened) are about 1.4 times the under-5 infant deaths , and thus one can estimate that Venezuelan avoidable death from deprivation in the 2 year period from mid-2017 to mid 2019 totalled 32,238 x 1.4 = 45,114 i.e. about 45,000 and similar to the estimation of “over 40,000” in 1 year (over 80,000 such deaths in the 2 year period mid-2017-mid-2019) of Dr Mark Weisbrot and Professor Jeffrey Sachs .
A further estimate can be obtained by crudely assuming from a wealth of global comparative data that the avoidable death rate for a peaceful, high birth rate but impoverished country like Venezuela should be about 4 deaths per thousand of population per year , whereas in reality the actual death rate is 7.0 per thousand of population per year . The difference – 3.0 deaths per thousand of population per year – is the avoidable death rate and indicates 86,661 avoidable deaths per year and about 173,000 avoidable deaths from deprivation in the 2 year period from mid-2017 to mid-2019 (cf the estimated over 80,000 such deaths in the period mid-2017-mid-2019 ) . One notes that over this period the US and US Alliance sanctions have become increasingly stringent and the conditions for Venezuelans increasingly bad.
In the 2 year period from mid-2017 to mid-2019, under-5 infant deaths in US-sanctioned Venezuela totalled about 32,000 and that this implies avoidable deaths from deprivation totalling 45,000, this being similar to the estimation of “over 40,000” in 1 year (over 80,000 in 2 years) of Dr Mark Weisbrot and Professor Jeffrey Sachs . However an alternative approach estimated 173,000 avoidable deaths from deprivation in Venezuela in the 2 year period from mid-2017-mid 2019, this suggesting about 121,000 Venezuelan under-5 infant deaths in this 2 year period .
In 2017, 5.4 million children under the age of 5 died world-wide, with an additional 0.9 million deaths occurring among children aged 5−14 [16, 17]. This carnage occurred on Spaceship Earth with Trump America in charge of the flight deck. However it must be noted that a child-killing, world-bestriding Trump America is not only involved in mass murder of Third World children but is also involved in the passive mass murder of American infants. Thus the under-5 infant mortality rate (under-5 deaths per thousand births per year) is 2 in Singapore (GDP per capita $57,000) as compared to 7 in the US (per capita GDP $60,000), the difference being 5 avoidable under-5 infant deaths per thousand births per year. Now the US (population 331 million) has a birth rate of 12.0 births per thousand of population per year, this yielding 3.97 million births each year and 19,860 or about 20,000 avoidable under-5 American deaths per thousand births per year.
If Americans are unmoved by US sanctions being linked to 16,000-60,000 Venezuelan under-5 infant deaths each year, and violent US hegemony being linked to 5.4 million Third World under-5 infant deaths each year, one (naively?) supposes that those Americans with a skerrick of the world-famous, chest-thumping American patriotism would surely be moved by the passive mass murder of 20,000 American under-5 year old infants each year by Trump America. This indeed adds a new twist to Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” (the fewer the infants, the “greater” the average size of Americans, 58% of whom are presently over-weight or obese ).
Outstanding expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger has stated that “Should the CIA stooge Guaido and his white supremacists grab power, it will be the 68th overthrow of a sovereign government by the United States, most of them democracies. A fire sale of Venezuela’s utilities and mineral wealth will surely follow, along with the theft of the country’s oil, as outlined by John Bolton. Under the last Washington-controlled government in Caracas, poverty reached historic proportions. There was no healthcare for those who could not pay. There was no universal education” .
What must decent people do? Decent people must (a) inform everyone they can , and (b) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against a child-killing Trump America and all those US lackey people, politicians, parties, corporations and countries complicit in Trump America’s War on Humanity.
. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes a succinct history of every country and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ .
. Susan Price, “US sanctions killed more than 40,000 people”, Green Left Weekly, 3 May 2019: https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/us-sanctions-killed-more-40000-venezuela .
. Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, “Economic sanctions as collective punishment; the case of Venezuela”, Centre for Economic and Policy Research, April 2019: http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/venezuela-sanctions-2019-04.pdf .)
. Michael Stott, “Worries mount over human cost of US sanctions on Venezuela”, Financial Times, 7 July 2019: https://www.ft.com/content/cba0fe06-9d74-11e9-9c06-a4640c9feebb .
. Noam Chomsky and 69 other intellectuals, “An Open Letter to the United States: stop interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics”, Commondreams, 24 January 2019: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/24/open-letter-united-states-stop-interfering-venezuelas-internal-politics .
. “International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_sanctions_during_the_Venezuelan_crisis .
. US Congressional Research Service, “Venezuela: overview of U.S. sanctions”, 8 May 2019: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF10715.pdf .
. Gideon Polya, “Paris Atrocity Context: 27 Million Muslim Avoidable Deaths From Imposed Deprivation In 20 Countries Violated By US Alliance Since 9-11”, Countercurrents, 22 November, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya221115.htm .
. “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ .
. Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide”: http://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ .
. “Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide”: http://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/ .
. “I-casualties”: http://icasualties.org/ .
. Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War: https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/380 .
. Lesley Stahl and Madeleine Albright quoted in “Madeleine Albright”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Albright .
. UN Population Division, World Population Prospects 2019: https://population.un.org/wpp/ .
. Joanne Lu, “A new UN report finds that a child under the age of 5 dies every 5 seconds”, UN Dispatch, 21 September 2018: https://www.undispatch.com/a-new-un-report-finds-that-a-child-under-the-age-of-15-dies-every-5-seconds/ .
. UN Interagency Group, “Levels and trends in Child Mortality, Report 2018”: file:///C:/Users/Gideon/AppData/Local/Temp/UN-IGME-Child-Mortality-Report-2018-2.pdf .
. “Obesity in the United States”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States .
. John Pilger, “John Pilger: the war on Venezuela is built on lies”, Green Left Weekly, 1 March 2019: https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/john-pilger-war-venezuela-built-lies .
Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/australian-complicity-in-iraq-mass-mortality/3369002#transcript
) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ; Gideon Polya: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/home ; Gideon Polya Writing: https://sites.google.com/site/gideonpolyawriting/ ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Polya ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .