Bracho: U.S Weaponizes Hunger as a Warfare Strategy in Venezuela

By Ana Cristina Bracho

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By Ana Cristina Bracho – According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO ) there is a proven correlation between the exposure of countries to external or internal conflicts and the deterioration or long-term stagnation of their food security. Although there is a right to food that every man, woman and child owns, in the world progress is not continually made towards the permanent eradication of hunger.

In reviewing the indicators we will see that, as reported on January 30, 2019 by the Security Council of the United Nations ( UN ), “the increasing number of protracted conflicts in the world is creating levels of hunger unprecedented and unacceptable. ” While global reports on hunger suggest that there is a decline in people suffering from hunger, still 795 million  people continue to face hunger every day.

In this framework, the declarations of the UN on the ethical and legal obligation to reduce hunger as well as the obligation that the countries have to cooperate to avoid it, are strong. It is estimated that States must guarantee their entire population a diet that must be sufficient, accessible, stable, durable and healthy.

In the same way, the guarantee of food is a right that knows no suspensions and that, on the contrary, in extreme circumstances such as war or catastrophes, has to be guaranteed with greater effort. This is the whole reason for the existence of international cooperation programs of organizations that, in a neutral way, enter into the framework of conflicts.

 

THE PROTECTION OF FOOD IN VENEZUELA

The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not textually indicate the existence of a right to food, it recognizes it implicitly within the framework of fundamental rights. In its Statement of Motives, it reflects: “The co-responsibility between society and State, the sense of progressiveness of rights, the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights”.

Likewise, article 305 of the title corresponding to the “Socioeconomic System”, makes the State responsible for promoting sustainable agriculture, in order to guarantee the food security of the population.

Next, in Venezuela there are at least 10 legal instruments that develop issues related to the full guarantee of the population’s diet, among which the Organic Law of Food Security and Sovereignty, the Organic Law of Fair Prices, the Law of the System National Integral Agroalimentario, the Law of the Great Mission AgroVenezuela and the norms that govern the system of social security in the country, where the benefit of feeding of the workers and the workers is included.

This legal framework can be understood as the framework with which the guarantee of the right to food was built in Venezuela during the period prior to the fall in oil prices, the intense development of smuggling contraband and finally the growing difficulty of Venezuela to access some international markets.

It is in this context that the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) are born, which constitute a tool in a context of programmed shortages, smuggling of extraction and permanent re-pricing of prices. They were designed to guarantee almost free of charge to the population the access to food that serves as a base to avoid starvation.

Therefore, we are not talking about a policy aimed at facing a normal situation, but one that derives from the economic emergency that is experienced.

The strategy, which has been the most successful proposal to face the economic war, has two fundamental virtues: first, the possibility of guaranteeing that the economic effort destined to the continuous disposition of food reaches the most vulnerable economic sectors; and second, revitalize grassroots organizing processes, highly committed to the actions of economic warfare, which limits the availability of people’s time, while making daily life an increasingly burdensome issue.

THE SANCTIONS HAVE BEEN PROPOSED AS A SUITABLE INSTRUMENT TO FORCE A CHANGE OF REGIME

Here we must stop, because we have to consider the nature of economic, social and cultural rights, of which the right to feed is part. The clause contained in Article No. 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights obliges States to take the maximum possible steps based on the resources available to progressively achieve the full development of the rights of that treaty.

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A reading in these terms reveals that CLAPs are now an acquired right of the Venezuelan population, while the abnormal and emergent situation that originated their birth has not been overcome, but has been aggravated in the context of the blockade that it has intensified since January 2019.

THE PERSECUTION OF CLAP

As reported by Telesur  on May 23, 2019, after sanctioning 10 maritime transport companies that transported food to Venezuela as part of the state program of the CLAP, the government of the United States prepares a new series of coercive actions against officials and related companies to this subsidized food distribution system.

This step confirms how sanctions seek to impact the lives of citizens who, according to their logic, must pay with suffering their loyalty to the government of Nicolás Maduro.

In this regard, it is important to bear in mind that before this news there have been minor actions, which have been occurring since 2017. Materially, products destined for CLAP have been destroyed in Colombia and, legally, on the basis of false arguments , the then  High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN included them among the causes of his “concern”.

 

HUNGER AND CONFLICTS

Since food is the material pre-provision for the guarantee of life, there are important international documents that prohibit the actions that impede this right.

In this regard, Resolution 2417 of the UN Security Council was issued in 2018, which constitutes an unequivocal condemnation of starvation as a weapon of war, pointing out that:

“… while climate change and drought play a crucial role, the eight most serious food crises in the world occur in countries affected by conflict: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria, Sudan, Sudan of the South and Nigeria, where close to 72 million people face severe food insecurity. ”

In this context, it is necessary to insist on the terms that we have been pointing out regarding sanctions as an instrument of war, since it seems evident that these decisions, issued outside the framework of the United Nations, are used as an instrument to impact the economy from a country.

In this regard, we can see the international legal scenario full of sanctions that are imposed in an anomalous way to the Law, because they adopt part by national or international offices, but outside the region of the country of destination in order to hinder the economic exercise of a State.

In our case, it is important to appreciate that the sanctions that have been imposed on Venezuela have been raised, with increasing clarity, as a suitable instrument to force a change of political regime.

Now, it is important that we see these issues with the caution they require. Seeing how the strategy of stopping or preventing CLAPs does not end with the pretense of generating more suffering but of forcing the State to receive goods that can not be presented as humanitarian aid. For this reason it seems that this is the way to finish forcing a humanitarian crisis that allows them to finally discard the right and apply its highly valued Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

translated from Mision Verdad by and for FRN

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