A group of economists and policy experts on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump to immediately lift the United States’ crippling sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, warning that the economic warfare — in addition to being cruel in itself — is “feeding the coronavirus epidemic” by hampering nations’ capacity to respond.
“This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible,” Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement just hours after the Trump administration intensified sanctions against Iran, which has been devastated by COVID-19.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said “there is no doubt that Iran’s capacity to respond to the novel coronavirus has been hampered by the Trump administration’s economic sanctions, and the death toll is likely much higher than it would have been as a result.”
Weisbrot warned that continued sanctions against Iran could have devastating consequences for other nations in the region as they work to stop the spread of the virus.
“There can… be no question that the sanctions have affected Iran’s ability to contain the outbreak,” said Weisbrot, “leading in turn to more infections, and possibly to the virus’ spread beyond Iran’s borders.”
“If the U.S. government is going to assist other countries, let alone provide some kind of leadership role during this global crisis, the first thing it should do is ’cause no harm,'” Weisbrot added. “Economic sanctions, as the U.S. is applying against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries, cause immense harm.”
Why do Trump & co. have crippling sanctions on Iran, making sure that many more people die from coronovirus than otherwise would? Its collective punishment, this piece from Human Rights Watch shows what monsters Trump and Pompeo and gang are: https://t.co/aJcT8D2wP8 pic.twitter.com/xhdektCxab
— Mark Weisbrot (@MarkWeisbrot) March 19, 2020
Pressure on the U.S. to lift its international economic sanctions came as the official coronavirus death toll in Iran surpassed 1,100. Meanwhile, Venezuela remains on lockdown after dozens of people tested positive for the virus and Cuba confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 last week.
Economist Francisco Rodríguez, a leading expert on the Venezuelan economy, said that U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and other nations have severely hindered their ability to respond to the pandemic, which has infected nearly 220,000 people worldwide.
“This has dramatic consequences on the lives of their citizens and exacerbates a major global health risk,” said Rodríguez.
It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.
We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?
We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!