Botswana: Cuba’s Ambassador Pledges More Support

Source:  AllAfrica.com
August 28 2017

By Kedirebofe Pelontle

Patricia Lazara Pego Guerra cuban amb to botswana 3 c.jpg

Patricia Guerra

Cuban Ambassador to Botswana, Ms Patricia Guerra says health professionals from Cuba will remain in the country for as long as necessary.

Ms Guerra said this in an interview with BOPA on Thursday following her first visit to Maun.

She said the North West District leadership and Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital staff had requested that the health professionals from Cuba be increased in the district.

Ms Guerra said there were about 12 health professionals in the North West District currently.

She however said the quantity of health professionals from her country depended on the agreement with Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as requirements stipulated.

She said the leadership had pointed out that the Ngamiland region was broad and dispersed.

She said Cuba and the Ministry of Health and Wellness would renew their agreement in the near future.

Ms Guerra appreciated the long standing relationship between the two countries.

Cuba celebrating 40 years relationship with Botswana

She said Cuba would be celebrating 40 years relationship with Botswana in December.

She observed that heath, tourism, culture and sports were some of their areas of strong terms with Botswana.

Ms Guerra noted that more than 30 Batswana had graduated in higher education in Cuba and that more health students went to study in Cuba.

She said development of human capita was part of their foreign policy exchange programme.

In an interview with BOPA, Maun Administration Authority (MAA) assistant district commissioner, Mr Ramogaupi Gaborekwe said the North West District appreciated the support from Cuba, especially on the health sector.

Mr Gaborekwe noted that Cuba and Botswana’s bilateral relationship dated as far back as 1977 and had been pivotal in the health sector.

Source : BOPA

Nicaragua’s Sandinista Achievements Baffle World Bank, IMF

Source: TeleSUR
August 31 2017

By: Tortilla Con Sal

sandinistas supporters aug 2017.jpgSupporters of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. | Photo: EFE

Reading the report, it is impossible to ignore the tension between latent ideological and political imperatives and the obligation to report the facts.

No one can take at face value any report, governmental or quasi non-governmental, coming out of the imperialist bureaucracy in Washington. Ideological bias and institutional self-justification prevent these reports from giving a true account of virtually anything.

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The latest World Bank report on Nicaragua is no exception.

The implicit but unstated truth in this report is that President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front have achieved an unprecedented economic turnaround in just seven years, starting in 2010.

Reading the report, it is impossible to ignore the tension between latent ideological and political imperatives and the obligation to report the facts. Put another way, mild conflict clearly prevails between the World Bank’s Washington head office and its reality based local officials. From Washington, the tendency is both to minimize Ortega’s achievement and also to cover up the World Bank’s own lamentable history in Nicaragua. On the other hand, in Nicaragua, local World Bank staff dutifully report the facts as they see them.

A total of 71 people contributed to the report. Supposing those 71 people each worked for a month to prepare the research and say their average salary was about US$80,000, then pro rata a month’s work by that team cost over US$500,000, a very conservative guess. Even so, in summary, that money bought policy recommendations for Nicaragua’s development amounting to little more than better infrastructure; better basic services; more private business investment; more efficient government; better targeted social policies. That’s it, for US$500,000 or more.

Recognizing Nicaragua’s achievements

In general, the report recognizes Nicaragua’s achievements in reducing poverty and inequality, raising productivity, diversifying economic activity and promoting security and stability. The report’s 130 or so pages include, among the economic and sociological analysis, many self-confessed guesses to fill in “knowledge gaps” and much gerrymandered history to cover up what Harold Pinter in his 2005 Nobel prize winning address justly called “the tragedy of Nicaragua.”

Pinter himself might have remarked the report is almost witty in its audacious, glib omissions. It acknowledges the catastrophic destructive effects of the 1980s war in Nicaragua, but carefully omits the U.S. government’s deliberate role in that destruction, now repeated against Syria and Venezuela.

The report talks about a “democratic transition” starting in 1990. In fact, the Sandinistas organized the first free and fair democratic elections ever in Nicaragua in 1984, but the U.S. government ordered the main Nicaraguan opposition to boycott them. Despite the war, Ortega and the Sandinistas won with 67 percent of the vote, very similar to the most recent presidential elections in 2016.

The heavy ideological bias also explains the World Bank’s curious dating of when Nicaragua’s economic turnaround began, placing it firmly in the neoliberal era prior to 2007. But at just that time, the World Bank was cutting back the public sector as much as they could, pushing, for example, to privatize Nicaragua’s public water utility and its education system.

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Nicaragua before the Sandinistas’ victory in January 2007

Back then, Nicaragua’s neglected electrical system collapsed through 2005 and 2006, incapable of generating even 400 megawatts a day, plunging swathes of Nicaragua back into 19th-century darkness for 10 to 12 hours at a time, day after day. That was the World Bank and IMF’s gift to Nicaragua after 17 years of so-called “democratic transition.” That period included Hurricane Mitch, devastating Nicaragua to the tune of 20 percent of its GDP, only for the corrupt neoliberal government at the time to misuse hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief. The only structurally significant economic achievement of the neoliberal era in Nicaragua was substantial foreign debt relief.

When Ortega took office in January 2007, he faced four years of domestic crisis with an opposition controlled legislature persistently sabotaging his government’s programs. From 2007 to 2008, Nicaragua and the whole region struggled in vain to contain a balance of payment deficits against oil prices reaching US$147 a barrel in 2008.

That disaster was compounded by the collapse of the Western financial system in late 2008 to 2009, a year when Nicaragua’s economy suffered a 3 percent contraction. Only in 2010, did the Nicaraguan government finally enjoy domestic and international conditions stable enough to be able to consolidate and improve its social programs, improve infrastructure investment, democratize and diversify the economy, extend basic services, and attract foreign investment, among other things.

The World Bank’s development recipe

If that sounds suddenly familiar, it should. It is exactly the development recipe offered up by this latest World Bank report, essentially an embellished review of policies the Nicaraguan government has already been implementing for a decade. Put positively, the government’s National Human Development Plan and other relevant documents suggest that the World Bank’s engagement with the Nicaraguan government has been one of mutual learning. So much so, that the current country program is likely to continue and may even expand.

The political opposition in Nicaragua has seized on parts of the report to try and discredit the Sandinista government’s outstanding achievements. In fact, for 17 years under neoliberal governments implementing World Bank and IMF policies, areas criticized like, for example, access to drinking water and adequate sanitation, or education, suffered chronic lack of investment, compounded by egregious waste and corruption. Now, the World Bank hypocritically criticizes Nicaragua’s government for intractable policy difficulties the IMF and the World Bank themselves originally provoked.

Similarly, when the World Bank report criticizes the targeting of social programs, they omit the unquestionable success of the government’s Zero Usury micro credit program and the Zero Hunger rural family support program, both prioritizing women. These programs have lifted tens of thousands of families out of poverty and, along with unprecedented support for Nicaragua’s cooperative sector, radically democratized Nicaragua’s economy, especially for previously excluded rural families and women. That supremely important national process is entirely absent from the World Bank report.

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The legacy of neoliberal governments

In its discussions of almost all these issues, the report makes more or less detailed contributions, mostly already identified by the government itself. In every case, the underlying cause of problems or lack of progress, for example, on land titling or social security, has been the legacy of neoliberal governments between 1990 and 2007, that reinstated elite privilege, rolled back the revolutionary gains of the 1980s and failed to guarantee necessary investment.

The World Bank and the IMF were enthusiastic ideological partners in that endeavor. They would have continued their ideological offensive had not Ortega and his government dug in their heels in 2007 and 2008, backed by investment support for social and productive programs from Venezuela as part of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas.

Since then, the World Bank, as this report suggests, seems, at least for the moment, to have learned two key lessons from the Sandinistas. In a world dominated by corporate elite globalization, their report implicitly recognizes the importance, firstly, of a mixed economy under a strong central government and, secondly, the crucial role of broad dialogue and consensus, across all sectors of society, to promote and sustain national stability. Essentially, the World Bank has acknowledged the undeniable success of the Sandinista Revolution’s socialist inspired, solidarity based policies, decisively prioritizing the needs of people over corporate profit and demonstrating the systemic inability of capitalism to meet those needs.

 

More Cuban Teachers Arrive in Jamaica

 

Source  Jamaica Information Service, JIS
August 30 2017

By Garfield Angus August 30, 2017

cuban teachers arrive in ja aug 2017.jpgPhoto: Michael SloleySome of the 18 Cuban teachers at the start of a two-day orientation exercise organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, today (August 29), at Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Jamaica welcomes Cuban teachers

Jamaica has welcomed another batch of 18 Cuban teachers, who have been deployed in schools across the island to boost the teaching of the sciences, Spanish and other subjects.

They have joined 39 other teachers from that country who are serving at various schools – 20 at primary schools, 17 at the secondary level, and two at teacher-training institutions.

Speaking at the start of a two-day orientation exercise for the 18 teachers today (August 29) at Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston, St. Andrew, Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of

Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, said they will be providing wonderful opportunities for Jamaican students to be “immersed in the Spanish language”.

She said Jamaica is grateful that they have taken up the offer to teach in the schools, and “it will not only provide us with the expertise that you are taking from your country, but it will also assist you in learning about the Jamaican culture”.

For his part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dean-Roy Bernard, said their input in the education system is crucial, and “we are looking for improvements in Spanish”.

Cuban teachers will serve at all levels 

Deputy Chief Education Officer, Dorrett Campbell, informed that the teachers will serve at all levels of the school system, with five assigned to primary schools that have infant departments.

Principal of St. Hugh’s High School, Dr. Elaine Cunningham, in her charge, encouraged the educators to be conscious that they are in a new country, and although, at first, there might be some concern, they should trust the process and this will make a difference.

“If things are not prepared for you the way you want it, just ask,” she said, affirming that at her school, “we are going to have a wonderful time with our Spanish teacher”.

The educators are in Jamaica under an exchange programme through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba.

China invites Egypt, Kenya to 2017 BRICS Summit

Source:  africanews
August 30 2017

china invites kenya egypt.jpgby Ismail Akwei

Egypt and Kenya have been invited to the 2017 Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) summit hosted by China.

The two African countries are among five countries – including Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand – invited as guests to the annual conference.

The BRICS Plus conference

The September 3 to 5 summit to be held in Xiamen city was described by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in March as the BRICS Plus conference due to the invitation of non-members.

He explained that the invitation is not an attempt to expand the group, but to broaden their discussions, local media report.

“We want to broaden the discussion to non-BRICS countries as well. I am confident that the dialogue this year will also be a success and also help expand BRICS influence,” he said.

The summit was hosted by India last year and they agreed to fast-track the setting up of their own credit-rating agency to better cater to developing economies.

The five member countries also vowed to forge closer trade ties at the end of their annual summit in Goa.

BRICS was formed in 2011 with the aim of using members’ growing economic and political influence to challenge Western hegemony.

Cristina Fernandez wins Senate primary

cristina fernandez wins senate seat aug 2017.jpgFormer President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner waves to supporters during her bid for National SenatePhoto: Reuters

Source: Granma
August 30 2017

by: TeleSUR English | informacion@granma.cu

The results place her party ahead of current right-wing president Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (Lets Change) coalition

Following the official final vote count released Tuesday, August 29, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won the province of Buenos Aires in Argentina’s primary elections for National Senator representing the Citizen’s Unity coalition.

The results indicate that Fernandez received 20,324 more votes than Esteban Bullrich the candidate for current right-wing president Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (lets change) coalition. Fernandez won 3,229,194 votes, and Bullrich 3,208,870, for a difference of 0.21%.

Launch candidacy for a Senate seat

Today, August 30, Fernandez will hold a rally in La Plata where she will launch her candidacy for a Senate seat in October’s mid-term elections alongside party supporters and other candidates.

Over 4,000 people are expected to attend, making it the largest rally of the former President’s campaign so far.

In total, primary percentages for each of the coalitions and parties places Citizens Unity in the lead with 33.95%, followed by Cambiemos with 33.74%, taking a very close second.
El Frente Uno Pais (One Country Front) led by Sergio Massa took a distant third with 15.41%, and the Justicialista Front’s candidate Florencio Randazzo took fourth with 5.94%.

The Left and Workers Front only secured 3.37% of votes, placing them in fifth.
While provisional results had placed Macri’s coalition in the lead by 0.8 percent, official electoral data showed Fernandez to be the overall winner.

Official results were not expected to be released until Wednesday, however official sources spoke to various media outlets confirming Fernandez’s victory in on Tuesday August 29.

Venezuela to Donate $5M to Harvey Victims in Texas

Source:  TeleSUR
August 30 2017

“Let’s not allow war or threats to be imposed, but instead let’s impose solidarity. We will always be with the people of the United States and the peoples of the world in difficult times,” Arreaza said

Hurricane Harvey 2.jpgHouston residents trudge through floodwaters. | Photo: AFP

Venezuela has extended its solidarity to the victims of Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has announced that the South American country will be donating US$5 million to help with recovery efforts in areas devastated by Harvey, particularly Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas.

RELATEDVenezuelan Constituent Assembly Passes Decree Against US Sanctions

“Let’s not allow war or threats to be imposed, but instead let’s impose solidarity. We will always be with the people of the United States and the peoples of the world in difficult times,” Arreaza said.

jorge arreaza venezuela

Jorge Arreaza

He explained that President Nicolas Maduro has approved a special program to help the victims in the states of Louisiana and Texas.

The plan was approved by U.S. authorities and the cities’ mayors, according to Arreaza.

The diplomat indicated that a percentage of the sales of gas from Citgo will be destined for the construction of houses for the people affected. Citgo is a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA, based in Houston.

Arreaza also said that he will be sending a letter Wednesday to the charge d’affaires at the United States embassy to deliver the construction project, adding that Venezuela has offered rescue workers, doctors, and other specialized personnel to help with the situation on the ground.

President of Citgo Nelson Martinez said the company was “going to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of those affected, with its support plan for construction.”

Citgo operations were forced to shut down at its Corpus Christi, Texas facilities, near where Harvey made landfall Friday, but are reportedly on their way to restarting in the next few days.

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In an announcement Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a decree imposing new economic sanctions on Venezuela. The latest U.S. sanctions ban trades of Venezuelan debt and prevent PDVSA from selling new bonds to U.S. citizens or financial groups. Trades of existing bonds commissioned by Caracas will also be barred.

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington D.C., said the new round of sanctions is “severe” and is on a level never seen before, making Trump’s cursory threats of military intervention against the Bolivarian state highly plausible.

The government has said that the sanctions target the Venezuelan people, affecting food and medicine supplies, which has led to international condemnation of the U.S. measures.

The new sanctions come weeks after Trump said that a “military option” has not been ruled out against Venezuela.

Lula Draws Biggest Crowd Yet and Blasts ‘Sellout’ Temer Government

Source:  TeleSUR
28 August 2017

lula caravan of hope 3.jpgFormer Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva cheers supporters of Landless Workers Movement (MST) during a rally in the northeast. | Photo: Reuters

 

“Brazil was a source of pride, today that period is over and its leaders are demoralized – this pack of stray dogs,” he told his supporters.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was enthusiastically greeted by about 30,000 people in Mossoro, the second most populous city in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.

RELATED:  Brazil Government ‘Sells Country Like Real Estate’: Lula

Now they want to sell everything

The crowd was Lula’s largest audience yet in his “Caravan of Hope” bus tour across northeastern Brazil. A much poorer region than the rest of the country, the northeast has been a reliable base for the Workers Party and Lula, who was born in the poverty-blighted state of Pernambuco.

“What is at stake today is Brazil and the defense of our sovereignty,” Lula told the crowd, noting that his administration managed to save the country’s Federal Savings Bank, known in the country as Caixa, as well as Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development or BNDES.

“Now they want to sell everything,” he added, pointing to the stated intention by President Michel Temer to sell Electrobras as a sign that the massive sale of public assets has begun.

Last Wednesday, the neoliberal Temer administration announced that 57 public companies and airport terminals would be privatized with the objective of reducing the country’s fiscal deficit, which amounts to nearly US$500 billion. The comment drew fire from ex-President Lula, who told media outlet Globo that “when they have nothing to sell, they are going to sell their souls to the devil.”

RELATED: Temer Government Takes its Orders from Washington and Wall Street: PT

Brazil was a source of pride

Lula was clearly in his element as he fired up the Mossoro crowd, who were drawn from the region’s rural poor and urban working class.

“When I left the presidency, we were not only self-sufficient in oil – we had the second largest oil company in the world,” he explained to the people of the oil-rich region.

“Brazil was a source of pride, today that period is over and its leaders are demoralized – this pack of stray dogs,” he added.

“Brazil only has a nation if it has people, and that is what this government is destroying and selling out to foreign companies!”

 

Colombia: Founding congress of the party to replace the FARC-EP underway

Source:  Granma
August 28 2017

by  International news staff | informacion@granma.cu

As a further step in the Colombian peace process, the founding congress of the political party that will replace the FARC-EP began  August 27 2017

colombia FARC first congress of new party.jpgPhoto: Twitter

BOGOTÁ.–The leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), Timoleón Jiménez, inaugurated the founding Congress of the political party that will replace this force, on Sunday, August 27, under the slogan “For a Transitional Government for Reconciliation and Peace.

The event is being held in the Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada Convention Center, in the Colombian capital, with the participation of 1,100 delegates and 200 guests from various sectors of Colombian society.

The opening remarks of the Congress were offered by Alberto Anaya, secretary general of the Mexican Workers’ Party, who welcomed the holding of such an event on behalf of delegates of Latin American leftist organizations.

Fighting in conditions of peace

Anaya noted that after so many decades of struggle, the FARC-EP will continue to fight for its people, but now in the everyday democratic political battle, in conditions of peace.

This first day of the Congress was dedicated to messages of support from guest Colombian and international personalities.

The Congress will continue to session today, in several working commissions, as Andres París, a member of the FARC-EP leadership, told Prensa Latina.

The executive board of this first Congress for the integration of the insurgent force into civilian life is headed by Jiménez, along with commanders Iván Márquez, Solis Almeida and Joaquin Gómez, as well as three women’s representatives of the FARC-EP high command.

The Congress must agree on the name of the new political party to be formed before it concludes on September 1, which according to Márquez, a member of the FARC-EP Secretariat, could be called the Alternative Revolutionary Force of Colombia.

The event will see the election of the party leadership, the approval of its lines of action, and the appointment of the ten delegates who will occupy seats in the Congress of the Republic, five in each chamber, as outlined in the Peace Agreement signed with the Colombian government at the end of 2016 in Havana, after more than four years of talks.

raul for peace.jpg

The Congress will conclude on September 1 with a mass act in the central Plaza Bolívar of the Colombian capital.

The peace process underway has put an end to more than five decades of internal armed conflict in Colombia, which have resulted in 5.7 million displaced persons, 220,000 dead and more than 25,000 disappeared.

A Lesson for the US: Cuba’s Response to Hurricanes

Source:  TeleSUR
August 28 2017

texas aug 2017.jpgResidents struggle through flood waters from tropical storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Texas, August 28. | Photo: Reuters

How a small Caribbean island with few resources manages to protect its people from extreme weather better than some of the richest countries.

A hurricane evacuation plan

Preparedness and prevention are hallmark qualities of the Cuban Revolution. They’re evident in the Caribbean island’s medical sector, educational system, environmental policies and at Playa de Giron in 1961. However, an often overlooked area where these two qualities safeguard the well-being of Cuban families is the development of a hurricane evacuation plan.

IN PICTURES:  In Cuba’s East, Solidarity Proves Crucial to Hurricane Recovery

As one-time hurricane, now tropical storm, Harvey continues to wreak havoc in Houston and other areas of Texas and Louisiana, and on the eve of the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, teleSUR spoke with Gail Reed. She is executive editor of the Medicc Review, a peer-review journal about health and medicine in Latin American, Caribbean, and other developing countries, and a journalist who has spent more than three decades in Cuba. We wanted her insight into Cuba’s local preparation and prevention plans, compared to U.S. disaster relief efforts, and how these distinct measures save lives as well as property during severe storms.

Our conversation began with Reed expressing solidarity with the people of Texas and Louisiana, as well as first responders, stressing that their predicament faced with the catastrophic flooding occasioned by tropical storm Harvey is “unforgivable.”

She proceeded to detail Cuba’s intersectoral preparedness and response to hurricanes, which include education, drilling and how the country’s relatively small civil defense force is deployed at provincial, municipal and local community levels when a storm is first detected.

RELATED:  Catastrophic Flooding After Hurricane Harvey as Venezuela Expresses Solidarity

Reed stressed that while “Hurricanes give you several days warning” the Cuban government “gives seven days warning,” during which time local communities are given ample opportunity to prepare for the worst.

Constant drills

She noted that local leaders are the protagonists of “disaster warning processes based on constant drilling,” which takes place under the rubric of “risk-reduction” in every province, city, town and village.

These constant drills are coupled with an integrated response from local fire departments, health, transportation and other vital public services. Above all, Cuba places “tremendous emphasis on educating the population” to keep communities and families, particularly the most vulnerable, safe.

“A taxi driver can tell you what a hurricane 5 is on the Saffir-Simpson scale and they will give you a whole lecture on what they need to do to prepare,” said Reed.

The journalist also pointed out that Cuba no longer talks about evacuation, but rather focuses on “protection,” which includes reinforcing “a local school” capable of accommodating local communities and pets.

She said that, unlike the people of Texas and Louisiana affected by tropical storm Harvey, all of whom must apply for federal aid, Cubans, despite the country’s vastly inferior economic resources, do not feel as though they will be abandoned “no matter what,” nor subjected to market-driven price gouging of vital supplies as witnessed in Texas today.

Cuba’s “small loss of life and property,” Reed emphasized, is usually significantly less than that seen in major disasters like Hurricane Katrina and now tropical storm Harvey. And the reason is this level of preparation.

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According to Reed, the Cuban approach to prevention policies demonstrate a thoughtful insight into the sheer power of nature and the impact of climate change. The U.S. philosophy of disaster relief, on the other hand, is more of an afterthought, which fails to recognize human frailties.

Reed recalls how in 2005, Cuba, which has suffered over half century of a U.S. economic blockade, offered to send 1,500 medical professionals from the Henry Reeves Brigade to help the people of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The former U.S. President George W. Bush, swiftly rejected the offer.

cuban medical personnel assemble for Katrina 2.jpg

Cuban medical personnel assembled and ready to assist Louisiana after
Hurricane Katrina; the US did not take up its neighbour’s offer of help

 

Venezuela’s President Says Trump’s New Sanctions Mean Sacrifice But Open Opportunities

Source:  TeleSUR
August 25 2017

maduro aug 2017.jpg

President Maduro responds to Trump’s sanctions on Venezuela and its oil company, August 25 | Photo: Reuters

 

President Maduro has invited U.S. investors to Caracas to discuss a response to Trump’s new sanctions, which target Venezuela’s financial sector and the state oil company, PDVSA.

President Nicolas Maduro says the new financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. president on Venenzuela are illegal, and the first to suffer will be U.S. investors.

RELATED: Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly to Begin Writing New Constitution Next Week

He said the prohibiton on U.S. citizens and companies buying Venezuelan bonds and securities, is an attempt to strangle Venezuela’s economy. “Can the world accept this?” he asked, and called for solidarity from the world community.

The stage of post-domination by the United States begins

He recognized that the sanctions will mean sacrifice for the Venezuelan people. But he said they also open up the opportunity for a new era of independence. On this day in 2017, he said, “begins the stage of post-domination by the United States, with Venezuela again at the center of this struggle for dignity and liberation.”

Speaking on national television, Maduro recalled that over the last two years his government has paid on time every cent of the US$65 billion that it owed on debt payments. “We could have spent that on education, more homes, water supplies and public works.”

He said the measures amount to a blockade on Venezuela, similar to that imposed on Cuba, but that they will fail just as that one did.

Maduro pointed out that 62 percent of Venezuelan government bonds are held by U.S. investors. Another 12 percent are held in the UK and 6 percent in Canada. Trump,he said, has burnt their investments. “What will they do with them now?”

The Venezuelan president announced that he would be inviting all U.S. investors and the U.S. companies that receive oil from Venezuela, to a meeting in Caracas to discuss the best response to “this destructive move by Trump.”

RELATED: ‘Libya and Iraq Are Lessons’: Antigua & Barbuda Warn Against Threats to Venezuela

US targets the Venezuelan economy

The new sanctions are the first by the U.S. to target the Venezuelan economy itself rather than individuals. President Trump reportedly signed the executive order containing the measures on Thursday night, but they were announced early on Friday.

The sanctions ban trades of Venezuelan debt and prevents the country’s state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, from selling new bonds to U.S. citizens or financial groups. Trades of existing bonds commissioned by Caracas will also be barred.

Speaking after meeting the secretary general of the United Nations in New York, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, described the sanctions as “one of the worst aggressions against Venezuela in recent years.”

“These types of sanctions show that the U.S. wants to rule over the continent. We will never accept this,” Arreaza said.

Responding to the sanctions

“We are studying all measures that we can take in response to these sanctions.”

Announcing the sanctions, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “In an effort to preserve itself, the Maduro dictatorship rewards and enriches corrupt officials in the government’s security apparatus by burdening future generations of Venezuelans with massively expensive debts.”

“These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela’s corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance.”

The new round of sanctions include a 30-day transitional period, allowing certain debt trades to continue. They also include exemptions for transactions involving Citgo, the PDVSA’s U.S. affiliate.

RELATED: Venezuela’s Maduro Speaks on Chavez, Trump and Opposition

The usual US media deception

“We don’t agree with anything (President Nicolas) Maduro is doing,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a press conference shortly after the White House announcement.

“We wanted to rely on the OAS (Organization of American States), but they weren’t able to do anything. We tried an emergency meeting with the Security Council, but they didn’t think it had anything to do with peace and security. Now we’ve placed sanctions and we’ll see if there’s anything else we can do through the UN.”

Echoing Haley, U.S. National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster touted Trump’s decision to “strongly punish the Venezuela regime.”

“The U.S. won’t allow an illegitimate dictatorship to take hold in the hemisphere,” McMaster said Friday.

“The Maduro dictatorship will not be able to accumulate debt that benefits corrupt insiders.”

McMaster added that although no military options are being explored in the “near future,” Washington is considering a “wide range of options” against Venezuela.

The decision comes days after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence promised to ramp up pressure on Venezuela in the wake of its July 30 National Constituent Assembly, ANC, election.

Pence met with several opposition leaders in Miami, capping off his tour of Latin America last week where he sought support against Maduro’s govenrment. The meeting with 15 emigre political figures took place at a Catholic Church in Doral, well known as an enclave for Venezuelans opposed to the administrations of late President Hugo Chavez and Maduro.

RELATED:Maduro Calls on Trump to ‘Stop Aggression Towards Venezuela’

Military threats

It also comes weeks after Trump issued military threats against Venezuela.

“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump told reporters earlier this month in apparently impromptu remarks.

“A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on 13 Venezuelan officials ahead of the ANC.

“As President Trump has made clear, the United States will not ignore the Maduro regime’s ongoing efforts to undermine democracy, freedom, and the rule of law,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a press release.

Among those sanctioned on Wednesday were National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena; Elias Jose Jaua Milano, the head of the Presidential Commission for the National Constituent Assembly; Tarek William Saab Halabi, Venezuela’s Ombudsman; Maria Iris Varela Rangel, member of Venezuela’s Presidential Commission for the National Constituent Assembly; and Nestor Luis Reverol Torres, Venezuela’s Minister of Interior, Justice, and Peace.