In an interview, see: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/5/1/economist_jeffrey_sachs_us_sanctions_have given to Amy Goodman on Venezuela the prestigious economist Jeffrey Sachs exhibits a deplorable ideological blindness and, worse, some disdain for the precision in numbers that should characterize economists. The interview includes a reference to a report published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research , co-authored by Sachs and Mark Weisbrot, a known Chavista supporter in the U.S. In this report Sachs affirms: “more than 40,000 people have died in Venezuela since 2007 as a result of U.S. sanctions, by reducing the availability of food and medicines in Venezuela.
However, when prompted by Goodman to explain how he came to this number he answers: “Nobody knows…. I don’t want anyone to think that there is precision in these numbers. What is certain, though, staring us in the face, is that there is a humanitarian catastrophe, deliberately caused by the United States, by what I would say are illegal sanctions, because they are deliberately trying to bring down a government and trying to create chaos for the purpose of an overthrow of a government”.
In this interview Sachs walks back from his previous accusation about the 40,000 deaths and admits that nobody knows how many Venezuelans have died as a result of U.S. sanctions but he confirms that there is “a humanitarian catastrophe going on in Venezuela deliberately caused by the United Sates illegal sanctions… for the purpose of an overthrow of a government”. This admission by Sachs is a clear evidence of how ideology could adversely influence professional standards.
But this is not all. In his short sentence Sachs adds two other inaccuracies: one, that the humanitarian catastrophe is caused deliberately by the United States and, two, the U.S. sanctions are illegal. In the first place, these sanctions were started some three years ago, while the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has been going on for at least ten years, during the regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, due to the collapse of Petroleos de Venezuela under the presidencies of Rafael Ramirez, Eulogio del Pino and General Manuel Quevedo. The intensity of the crisis has increased during the last five years, coinciding with the arrival of Chavez chosen successor to the presidency, Nicolas Maduro. Imports of food and medicines have decreased significantly, but at the same time deliveries of free oil to Cuba and other ideological friends have continued and significant corruption has led to billions of dollars of Venezuelan money being deposited in offshore banks by members of the regime. Much of that money should have been used in alleviating the sufferings of Venezuelans.
In the second place U.S. sanctions are the result of a sovereign decision by the U.S. government and cannot be considered illegal. They started as individual sanctions against corrupt members of the Chavez and Maduro regimes and only more recently have included economic and financial sanctions that, no doubt, have weakened the regime considerably. This weakening and eventual expulsion of the regime is certainly the objective of the 90% of the Venezuelan people and of 50 or more countries of the free world. U.S. sanctions are the expression of these wishes and objectives and not an attack on the Venezuela people who feel identified with them. Venezuelan reality is already too well known for outside observers to be deceived by claims such as those expressed by Sachs.
Sachs claims that the U.S. wants to overthrow Maduro. This claim is correct. Venezuelans and decent people all over the world want to see Maduro go and be taken to prison, to pay for his immense crimes, together with a large group of his accomplices and of equally guilty members of the previous Chavez regime.
Sachs reveals again his indifference for the truth when he adds: “the Latin leaders said, “No, no, that’s not a good idea. We don’t want military action. So the U.S. government has been trying to strangle the Venezuelan economy”. In an effort to confuse public opinion Sachs mixes two things here: one, that Latin leaders do not want military action, which so far is correct, and two, that Latin leaders feel that ousting Maduro is not a good idea. This is a lie. 85% or more of Latin leaders want to see Maduro gone through the application of progressive sanctions. Only Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia remain as Maduro’s cronies in the region while Uruguay and Mexico object to intervention and prefer an election but no longer dare to side openly with the Venezuelan regime.
It is sad to see university professors such as Sachs and Tinker Salas who live in free and democratic environments become supporters of cruel, corrupt and inept political regimes which violate all basic principles of human decency.
REPLY BY JEFFREY SACHS
REPLY BY JEFFREY SACHS