U.S. President Barack Obama admitted Thursday that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States.
“We do not believe that Venezuela poses a threat to the United States, nor does the United States threaten the Venezuelan government,” Obama said during an interview with EFE.
Last month Obama signed an executive order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
In the run up to this week’s Summit of the Americas, and against the fierce backlash to Obama’s remarks from Latin American nations, the White House first began to backtrack earlier this week, when a top Obama official stated the language of the executive order was “completely pro forma.”
However, the Obama administration has shown no signs of repealing the controversial executive order, under which the United States imposed new sanctions on Venezuela.
Responding to the declaration, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told state press agency AVN that it represented a “triumph of the Venezuelan people and of the world support for … national sovereignty,” referring to the large number of countries that have spoken out against the U.S. measure.
Despite the apparent reversal of earlier claims, Obama continued to defend the sanctions on Venezuela, which were initially justified by the claims the Latin American nation is a threat. Obama told EFE, “The sanctions that we imposed were focused on discouraging human rights violations and corruption.”
He added that the United States will lobby other Latin American nations to “encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to its commitment to promote and defend democratic governance.”
“This week’s summit in Panama is an important moment for leaders across the region, not only to reaffirm our commitment to these principles and values,” he said, referring to the Summit of the Americas, which begins on Friday.
Despite the backlash to his targeting of Venezuela, Obama argued the relationship between the United States and the rest of the hemisphere is “the best it’s been in many decades.”
“While it is true that the region has changed dramatically over the last two decades, it has done so in a way that largely aligns with our values and advances our national interests,” he added.
Every Latin American nation has openly condemned Obama’s stance on Venezuela. In March all 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) expressed their opposition to the U.S. government’s move, with other regional bodies including the United Nations of South America (UNASUR) doing likewise.
Amid the outpouring of support for Venezuela, earlier this month the U.S. Department of State expressed “disappointed” the sanctions hadn’t proved popular in Latin America.
“I am disappointed that there were not more countries to defend (the sanctions). They were not made to harm Venezuelans or the Venezuelan government,” said Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. sub-secretary for Latin America.
At the Summit of the Americas, President Nicolas Maduro and other Latin American leaders are expected to call on Obama to dump his executive order, and rescind sanctions on Caracas.
In one of the few signs of international support for Washington, earlier Thursday a group of former world leaders issued a statement calling for “action” against Maduro’s government for alleged human rights violations.
The group of 26 former heads of state included accused human rights abusers such as former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. In his home country, a court has ordered an investigation into allegations Uribe was complicit in one of the most infamous massacres of Colombia’s civil war.
Taken from http://www.telesurtv.net/english