Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made himself again one of the most unpopular political figures in Latin America this week.
Instead of siding with the United Nations in accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of crimes against humanity, Chavez decided to make it his mission to help fuel the battle, literally. A Venezuelan ship was spotted transporting oil to Syria. It may be time for the United Nations to sanction Venezuela, because this is not the first time Venezuela has given resources to a nation most other states and organizations have been against.
It is necessary for the United Nations to come to a substantive stance on Venezuela’s relations with countries that are committing atrocities against their people. The only way to accomplish this would be through a harsh sanction campaign that would make it more difficult for Chavez to meet with these leaders. An economic sanction against Venezuela would allow trade barriers to be put in place and make it more difficult for the Chavez to continue giving aid to these nations. Chavez already has relations with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many are dying in Syria due to government actions, and Chavez has also decided to aid Assad even with this knowledge.
Ahmadinejad and Chavez want to weaken U.S. "imperialism" and favor a world divided into multiple centers of power. If Chavez is allowed to continue to meet with nations like Iran, who have been sanctioned already, then he is deliberately creating problems for international peace. This should be reason enough to sanction Venezuela. If this continues, it will not be long before Venezuela creates more permanent ties with nations who are committing atrocities against their own people, or who are a threat to regional and international stability.
The conflict in Syria has gone on for many months, but seems to only be escalating. The United Nations has come to the conclusion that Syria has committed “gross human rights violations,” and there is an international cry for Syria to halt the atrocities committed against its people. Instead of siding with the United Nations, or just staying out of the matter altogether, Chavez has made a bold statement by sending this care package to Syria. Chavez wants the international community to know that he does not support the United Nations, and that he is willing to ally with these unpopular political figures.
It is time for the United Nations to make their statement. An economic sanction would send the assertion that there are nations out there who will continue to push for international peace. The more difficult it is for nations like Iran and Syria to gain access to necessities, the less likely that outrages like the ones seen now will occur. The sanction may not stop Chavez, but it will send a message to Venezuela, and other nations, that this is not a matter that is taken lightly.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons