Impose disabling sanctions to prevent dictatorships from being sustained by democracies

Carlos Sánchez Berzaín

Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are three acknowledged dictatorships and Bolivia is the disguised dictatorship that still imposes its counterfeiting of democracy. These four regimes comprise one single system. Because of their violation of human rights, their electoral supplantation, protection to narcotics’ trafficking and other crimes, they are the subject of sanctions that far from eliminating them, provide a narrative of victimization and enable them to continue being sustained by the international democratic system. In order to end dictatorships, the imposition of “disabling sanctions” is necessary.

It takes far too long for the international system and democracies to recognize the condition of “dictatorship” of a government who; institutionalizes the violation of human rights, suppresses and violates individual basic freedoms, eliminates the rule of law, concentrates all power by making disappear the separation and independence of the branches of government, manipulates elections turning them into a criminal farse, and by doing all of the above and more, it continues to indefinitely hold power with impunity.

Cuba’s Castroist regime, recycled as head of 21st Century Socialism or Castrochavism, is the dictatorship who is nearing 63 years of disgrace and in order to survive has gone through several facets of narratives loaded with grandiloquent, bombastic, yet false adjectives of revolution, liberation, anti-imperialism, and even independence, all while it massacred, executed by firing squads, and institutionalized the violation of human rights and destabilized democracies through bloodshed. Ironically enough, however, it has survived with the discourse of “sanctions and the blockade” which it attributes to be the root cause of its problems and criminal behavior.

The expansion of Cuba’s dictatorship in the 21st century has produced dictatorships in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and has temporarily prevaricated the democracy of Ecuador. In these countries we can corroborate Cuba’s methodology and similar devastating effects to the ones endured by the Cuban people. In these four countries there are political prisoners and exiles, the violation of human rights is accomplished through “despicable laws” and there are none of the essential components of democracy. They have been turned into narco-states who carry out state-sponsored terrorism, and have created their system to indefinitely hold power with functional oppositions and the judicial as their main instrument for repression.

The technological revolution of the 21st century has uncovered -in real time- the dictatorships’ crimes. It has shown the criminal repression against Cuba’s civilian population who, since 11 July, are in a permanent and growing civil resistance for FREEDOM with the cry of HOMELAND AND LIFE. It shows the Venezuelan regime’s torture inflicted on political prisoners, assassinations and crimes against humanity. Technology has made evident the civil resistance of the Nicaraguan peoples against the electoral crimes perpetrated on 7 November and the torture and crimes against political prisoners. In Bolivia, technology has made possible for the world to see the criminal dictatorial acts against Bolivians to suppress massive national work-stoppages protesting the government’s despicable laws.

Faced with these atrocities the international community, through organizations such as; the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union and democratic nations such as the United States, Canada and others, impose “sanctions” against members of the dictatorships and the States they control. As defined by international law, a sanction is “the mechanism or means for the peaceful resolution of controversies that have the objective of influencing those States who breach international standards”. They avoid the use of force but seek a change of behavior within the framework of respect for international principles and obligations.

Sanctions against dictatorships and their officials, that in Cuba and Venezuela’s case are decades old, are ineffective and useless to end the dictatorial disgrace, let-alone to even change the proven reincident and recalcitrant attitudes of those sanctioned. While such sanctions are imposed, dictatorships continue to be sustained by democracies by receiving international financial assistance, credits from multilateral economic organizations, lots of economic assistance under the label of humanitarian aid. They also continue to have trade relationships and their economic systems are fully operational.

To help the people who, through civil resistance, fight to regain their freedom in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, the sanctions -if we want them to be effective and not be just gimmicks- must be “disabling sanctions” in other words “sanctions that will disable the dictatorships’ capacity to continue holding power” such as; disqualifying them from being eligible to receive international credit, suspend their membership in the economic system, disable their private financial systems and more.

*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators Association, ATA # 234680.


Published in Spanish by Sunday November 21st, 2021.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.