North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, condemned the United States on Wednesday for its “sinister bad habit” of placing sanctions on rogue regimes to punish them for human rights violations, in this case against Venezuela for staging a fraudulent election and banning the opposition from running.
Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro “won” an election Sunday riddled by thousands of electoral fraud claims and in which he only competed against former chavista socialists and fringe candidates. While Maduro’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) claimed that more than 40 percent of Venezuelans voted, opposition groups and international observers reported that, by their estimates, more than 80 percent of eligible voters failed to appear at the polls, the lowest turnout in modern Venezuelan history.
Following the election, the Trump administration issued an executive order banning “all transactions related to the purchase of any debt owed to the government of Venezuela, and this includes accounts receivable by any U.S. person or anyone within the United States.”
The sanctions, North Korea’s newspaper alleged, “clearly betrayed once again the U.S. nature of aggression and sinister bad habit to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and use the sanctions as a means of regime changes for the purpose of achieving its black-hearted aim.”
“Those countries which the U.S. singles out for slapping sanctions are independent ones against imperialism like Cuba and Venezuela or those countries disobedient to it,” Rodong Sinmun continues. “The U.S. demands such countries accept something unacceptable and if they turn down this, it invents non-existing matters and builds public opinion and hurts their social systems and imposes sanctions on them.”
“The U.S. base interference and unethical sanctions aimed at overthrow of system and regime change in sovereign states are certain to be blasted by the international community,” the column concludes.
North Korea was one of the few countries to send Maduro a note congratulating him on his “re-election” Sunday, while states in the free world issued rebukes and demands for elections that truly represent the will of the Venezuelan people.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Monday that Kim Yong Nam, the nonagenarian symbolic “president” of North Korea, sent Maduro congratulations for the election, calling it “an expression of the firm will of all the people of Venezuela to advance the Bolivarian revolution to the last and their trust in him.”
North Korea’s state media outlets have also consistently supported Maduro and his predecessor, late socialist dictator Hugo Chávez.
In March, the Pyongyang Times uncritically published a summary of Maduro’s screed that month against the United States at the ALBA summit, an organization founded by Chávez and the communist Cuban regime as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS). “The summit denounced the US and its vassal forces for banning Maduro from attending the summit of the Organization of American States, and extended support and solidarity to the Venezuelan government,” North Korean citizens read of the affair.
That same month, state media published a criticism of the United States very similar to the piece published on Wednesday.
“The US is still keen on sanctions against Venezuela. … More specifically, the US tries to turn Latin America into its ‘quiet backyard,'” state media argued at the time. “It seems that the US clings to the bid for regime change in Venezuela as it continues to advance under the banner of the Bolivarian revolution and anti-Americanism.”
In 2016, Rodong Sinmun published a column attacking protesters in Venezuela as “right-wing reactionaries … going on a rampage” against socialism and “creating social disorder and confusion.”
The newspaper supported Maduro’s violent crackdown at the time, which resulted in thousands of deaths and widespread reports of beatings and torture by Maduro soldiers and police. “Many countries of the world express full support and solidarity with those measures, but only the U.S. is ratcheting up sanctions against Venezuela, describing those measures as ‘actions against democracy,'” Rodong Sinmun claimed.
“The U.S. is the arch criminal making the situation in the Latin American region complicated,” the North Korean media outlet concluded in its analysis of Maduro’s violent repression of anti-socialist voices. “The U.S. should stop giving a shot in the arm of the right-wing reactionary forces of Latin American countries including Venezuela and halt at once its interference in the internal affairs of the region.”
In addition to publishing propaganda in favor of Maduro’s regime, North Korea also lends diplomatic and political support. DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho met with Venezuelan officials in Azerbaijan as recently as last month. In December, North Korean officials visited Caracas to give financial advice to the collapsing Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) on how to resist the alleged American onslaught that has ravaged the Venezuelan economy. (In reality, Maduro’s nationalization and price freezing policies, as well as his penchant for giving other communist countries oil for free, is the culprit behind Venezuela’s failures.)
“The government of the United States has expansionist interests in order to acquire the riches of strategic nations like Venezuela and North Korea, which have chosen a socialist economic and social model,” Ri alleged. “Socialism always has its enemies because it does not defend the interests of the rich and influential, who are the minority in the world. Imperialism always wants to limit economic and military growth in progressive nations.”