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Are oil reserves the real reason why Barack Obama has levied sanctions on Venezuela?

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US Vene (1)

By Harshmeet Singh

Highlighting its ‘deep concern’ for the Venezuelan citizens, USA has declared Venezuela as a ‘National threat’ and slapped various sanctions against seven top Venezuelan officials. As the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave a scathing speech on Tuesday, blaming the ‘imperialist’ USA for trying to topple his Government, he found support from the iconic Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.

Castro’s message for Maduro read ‘Dear Nicolas Maduro, I congratulate you for your brilliant and brave speech in the face of the brutal plans by the United States government. Your words will go down in history as proof that humanity can and will know the truth,

US’ love for oil

“Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

  • Jimmy Carter, former US President

Overenthusiastic participation of the US in the Gulf War and almost all the Middle Eastern conflicts ever since under the blanket of ‘war on terror’ has been termed by many as US’ attempt to capture oil reserves around the world.

What is common among Venezuela, Iran, Iraq and Libya? Oil is the easiest answer that pops into the mind. All these countries feature in the list of top ten countries with the biggest proven oil reserves in the world. Secondly, each of these countries has faced strong US interventions in the past few years. US showing ‘deep concerns’ for an oil-rich nation and its citizens isn’t a new happening. With the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela holds a key position in the South American politics and US knows this well.

Current US Venezuela Crisis

Since February this year, the Maduro Government has been blaming the US of supporting the opposition in carrying out violent protests across the country. according to report published in The Guardian, Maduro said that the US has a tradition of carrying out coups in other nations. He also put forward the case of Edward Snowden and a 2006 WikiLeaks cable, according to which, the US was planning to ‘divide, isolate and penetrate’ the erstwhile Venezuelan Government. In one of his addresses to the media in February, he said “I invoke Obama and his African American spirit, to give the order to respect Venezuela”

Averting any blames that its actions are aimed at denting Venezuela’s oil based economy, the White House maintained that its sanctions aren’t intended to hurt Venezuela’s energy sector. According to the US, the seven officials against whom the sanctions have been approved had played a key role in suppressing the anti-Government protests in any undemocratic manner.

When asked about the need to list Venezuela as a ‘national security threat’, a US official said that this is the first step of the US sanctions program and similar steps were followed with Iran and Syria. If the US plans to put Venezuela in the same bracket as Iran and Syria, this might not spell good news for the South America nation.

Maduro’s plans

Maduro is seeking to buy time to sort the growing mess within the country by terming this as a battle between an ‘imperialistic’ USA and a ‘Socialistic’ Venezuela. Whether he succeeds in his plans remains to be seen.

Next Story

Health System Failure for Cancer Patients in Venezuela

Last year, about 4,700 women in Venezuela became ill with breast cancer, according to the Anticancer Society of Venezuela

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Cancer
Cancer Patients are not just afraid of the disease itself, but they also fear dying because they cannot find or afford the necessary treatment. Pixabay

A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough at any time. But for 49-year-old Grecia Solis, the arduous choices faced by all cancer patients were complicated by the crippling decline of Venezuela’s public health facilities.

After her diagnosis two years ago, doctors recommended surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Before the oil-producing nation’s steep economic decline of recent years, those services would have been available free of charge or for a nominal fee at a state-run public hospital.

But trained staff, medicines and equipment are in such short supply at those facilities today that a public hospital was no longer an option. Instead, Solis was forced to borrow money from family and friends to pay for her operation at a privately run, for-profit clinic.

Her operation, performed in May 2018, cost her $500, a modest amount by U.S. standards, but a huge sum in Venezuela where hyperinflation has ravaged most people’s savings. With additional financial help from a sister in Ecuador, Solis was able to pay for the recommended eight sessions of chemotherapy, which were completed in December.

Solis’ story is a common one among cancer patients in Venezuela. Patients are not just afraid of the disease itself, but they also fear dying because they cannot find or afford the necessary treatment.

Last year, about 4,700 women in Venezuela became ill with breast cancer, according to the Anticancer Society of Venezuela, although the nation’s health ministry has not produced official figures since 2012. The society reported 2,300 women died last year from the disease, one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among Venezuelan women.

Cancer
A breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough at any time. Pixabay

Senos Ayuda, an NGO that supports breast cancer patients, estimates the number of patients are even higher, at almost 7,000 a year. And it stresses that treatment, medicine and doctors are becoming ever less accessible with the deepening of the nation’s humanitarian emergency.

The problem is part of a wider crisis in public health facilities. According to several Venezuelan doctors’ organizations, 73% of the country’s operating rooms are out of service or lack supplies and have unsanitary conditions.

A survey conducted by the organization Doctors for Health indicated that 90% of radiotherapy facilities are inoperative, 94% of health centers cannot take an X-ray, and 88% of hospitals have insufficient supplies and medicines. The Anticancer Society of Venezuela has reported that 80% of public radiotherapy equipment has been inoperative in the last year.

Solis says she is frustrated the government of President Nicolas Maduro does not accept that Venezuela is in a humanitarian crisis and has done little to address the problem, leading to avoidable cancer deaths.

Cancer
Since 2018, 400,700 women in Venezuela have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. According to the Anti-Cancer Society in Venezuela, getting an accurate numbers of patients is unlikely. Since 2012, the Ministry of Health does not offer official figures. VOA

Another patient, 58-year-old Algeria Dias, was diagnosed with a breast tumor in August 2017. She was able to afford treatment with the help of family, donations, some government help and the sale of the family car, but she says she now she spends every day “going from clinic to clinic, public and private, and see if they have the space or equipment I need to monitor my disease.”

For her part, Solis says she is running out time. She has until December to raise $5,000 to pay for more than 30 additional radiotherapy sessions to prevent the likely return of her cancer.

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“Cancer does not wait. Cancer does not warn and when you have it, it overtakes you. It hurts having the uncertainty of not knowing if you can say, “I am a cancer survivor,” she said. (VOA)