Thousands of Venezuelans mobilized this weekend against U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to renew sanctions against the socialist-ruled country for another year, describing the South American oil power as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the security of the United States and its foreign policy.”
Similar demonstrations are taking place throughout the continent, on the right and left, as conservative movements attempt to undermine the socialist gains made since Venezuelans elected Hugo Chavez in 1998.
“We are a hope, not a threat,” read one sign on Saturday. The protesters, led by President Nicolas Maduro, were resuming a campaign from last April that presented over 14 million signatures against the sanctions to Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. The U.S. president faced opposition from many Latin American countries that rejected the administration’s attempt to isolate Caracas and to break up new South-South alliances.
That day was reminiscent of a day in 2005, when at the fourth Summit of the Americas Chavez shouted down President George W. Bush, who was promoting a Free Trade Agreement for the Americas. That, too, was an attempt to break up alliances and exclude Cuba, and Latin American opposition stalled the deal.