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The Iranian/Venezuelan Fight for Self-Determination Against U.S. Economic Sanctions

Joseph Seyedan

The Strategy Center is happy to publish Joseph Seyedan’s exposure of the racism, colonialism, and murderous impacts of U.S. sanctions. Today, our “movement coming into being” needs to place fare greater emphasis on standing up to the U.S. war against China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and the world. U.S. imperialism will not let the world breathe. The Strategy Center, with a long internationalist history, wants to increase our investment in international anti-imperialist education and organizing. Joseph, a member of the Strategy Center’s Radical Research Team, offers a hopeful analysis of Iranian and Venezuelan defiance of the U.S. in their own fight for self-determination – Eric Mann

This past week, in an act of defiance against the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran has sent nearly 60 million gallons of gasoline to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.[1]  The actions of these two nations ought to be praised for their fight for economic and political self-determination in the face of U.S. sanctions.

Venezuela and Iran have both been subjected to many years of US sanctions.  Since 1979, Iran has been the victim of perhaps the harshest sanctions in modern history, each year more brutal than the last.  Venezuela has also been under US sanctions since 2014.  These sanctions have caused shortages of food, medicine, basic supplies, and countless deaths, earning the designation of ‘economic terrorism.’  The United States, frustrated that the visions of these countries will not allow for their crude exploitation, has worked to destroy their economies, societies, and fundamental dignity in a hope for regime change.

The United States has called the trading between Iran and Venezuela ‘a violation of international law’ and threatened to take action against Iranian ships which would be delivering the gasoline.  Venezuela responded by assuring the ships would be escorted by the Venezuelan military while Iran publicly stated that any such attack would met with swift retaliation.  The ships, now safely docked in a Venezuelan port, are surely a thorn in the side of the United States whose aim is to eliminate all those who challenge or even question their right to hegemonic domination.

Though the sanctions against Iran and Venezuela are particularly notable the U.S. had also placed sanctions against Cuba, China, Russia, Occupied Palestine, Mali, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Fiji, Nicaragua and Laos. In fact, over a third of the world’s population—2.5 Billion people live under US sanctions.[2]  The United States, described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with hundreds of military bases and deep ties with propped up dictatorships and terrorist groups around the globe, seeks to destroy any country which demands even the smallest degree of sovereignty and self-determination. The United States continuously conspires to establish regimes around the world friendly to its interests and hegemony.

Often no help to these countries can be expected from intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and human rights groups.  The European Union’s consistent silence exemplifies its complete capitulation to the United States. Sanctioned countries are depleted and disparaged; they are alienated and left to manage disasters and tragic catastrophes alone. These ‘humanitarian crises,’ as they are referred to by the West, are manufactured by the West’s very methods of imperialism and economic terrorism against them. Sanctioned nations have their assets frozen, trading opportunities limited or all together withheld, foreign assistance and humanitarian aid abolished.

Even when sanctioned countries like Venezuela and Iran seek to cooperate with one another, they are subjected to condemnation from the Western world. Most nations in the world are not willing to trade with Iran and Venezuela out of fear of backlash from the United States; these countries are now being threatened for seeking to trade with each other.  The US has indeed shown that it does not want any nation to trade without its dominating seal of approval; its intention is that all the economic dealings in the world serve its interests.

The bravery of Venezuela and Iran has set a precedent for other nations and peoples to take a stand against the unjust economic policies of the United States and West.

In a case of false humanism during the COVID-19 crisis, we constantly hear on the news-waves that “we are all in this together.”  As nice as this sentiment may be, it could not be farther from the truth.  The United States has found itself in complete internal disarray while also blaming China, the World Health Organization, and seemingly everyone but itself for the devastation of the pandemic.  As long as the US subjects countries all over the world to draconian sanctions, while Black people are murdered by police and white racists, and denied basic human rights, migrants and prisoners continued to be held in cages, there remains no prospect of genuine “togetherness.” A nation or people’s sovereignty and democracy must be respected; our greatest possibilities will always lie in our mutual cooperation. Anyone considering themselves liberal, progressive, radical, revolutionary or just a decent human being should speak out against U.S. sanctions of the world through their organizations, correspondence, social media, and first, to themselves.

Joseph Seyedan is a student at UCLA in Music and Philosophy and a member of the Labor/Community Strategy Center’s Radical Research Team.


[1]Anthony Faiola, Missy Ryan, and Erin Cunningham, “As tankers head toward the Caribbean, growing Iran-Venezuela ties draw U.S. concern,” The Washington Post, May 23, 2020,

[2] Sara Flounders, “U.S. war on the defenseless / Sanctions harm one-third of world’s people,” Workers World, December 3, 2019,