Ilhan Omar says US ‘helped lead devastation in Venezuela’ through regime change sanctions

Clark Mindock

Ilhan Omar has blamed US foreign policy for the political unrest in Venezuela, arguing that America promotes regime change that is harmful to both the United States and the people in the countries targeted.

Ms Omar said as much during an appearance on the radio programme Democracy Now!, where she discussed US interventions in Central America broadly, and the long term impacts of US sanctions.

“You know, I mean, a lot of the policies that we have put in place has kind of helped lead the devastation in Venezuela. And we’ve sort of set the stage for where we’re arriving today,” Ms Omar said.

She continued: “This particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States.”

Sanctions have been a key US foreign policy tool for several decades now, and the Trump administration has been notable in its heavy use of the measure.

In March, Mr Trump and his team — led by national security adviser John Bolton — implemented new sanctions on Venezuela in order to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to relinquish his power to White House-favoured leader Juan Gauido, who has declared himself the rightful leader of the country.

Those sanctions, and Mr Guaido’s efforts, culminated this week in mass protests in Caracas, where violence was seen as Mr Guaido and Mr Maduro jostled for power.

Ms Omar, on Democracy Now!, discussed the US approach, and noted that the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, had a “heavy hand in some of the most devastating policies that we imposed on Central America, and that there is a direct correlation between the kind of mass migration that we’re noticing right now from Central America and South America to this country.”

Mr Abrams was previously convicted on two counts of withholding information from Congress related to the Iran-Contra affair, but was pardoned by George HW Bush.

“People like Elliott Abrams, neo-cons and warmongers, you know, for so long have pushed for policies that are now—we can see, not only in Central America, but many parts of the world, the kind of devastations that they’ve had for decades,” Ms Omar said.