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Open Letter in Support of Mediation in Venezuela, Not Sanctions

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We urge the United States and Canadian governments to immediately remove their illegal* sanctions against Venezuela and to support efforts at mediation between the government of Venezuela and the nonviolent segments of the political opposition.


We, the undersigned organizations and individuals in the US and Canada, support hemispheric relations based on respect for the sovereignty of all peoples of the Americas. We are deeply concerned by the use of illegal sanctions, whose effect falls most heavily on the poorest and most marginal sectors of society, to coerce political and economic change in a sister democracy.


Polls in Venezuela show that the large majority of Venezuelans oppose sanctions, regardless of their opinion of the Maduro government. Sanctions merely complicate efforts by the Vatican, Dominican Republic, and other international actors to mediate a resolution to the deep polarization in Venezuela. Moreover, sanctions undermine efforts of the democratically elected government and Constituent Assembly to address critical economic issues and determine their own political destiny.


Despite the high-minded rhetoric of officials in Washington and Ottawa, it is not a genuine concern for democracy, human rights, and social justice that drives the belligerent interventionist posture towards Caracas. From President Obama’s admittedly untrue presidential decree that Venezuela represents a national security threat to the United States, to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s declaration that Venezuela is “an increasingly violent narco-state” that threatens the world, the use of hyperbole in diplomatic situations seldom contributes to peaceful solutions on the world stage.


It is no secret that Venezuela, unlike Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, is targeted for regime change by the US precisely because of Venezuela’s leadership in resisting US hegemony and the imposition of the neoliberal model in Latin America. And of course, Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world, attracting more unwanted attention from Washington.


The US and Canada tried and failed to use the Organization of American States (OAS) to build a bloc to hypocritically evoke the Democratic Charter against Venezuela. Recently, Luis Almagro, the rogue Secretary General of the OAS, went so far as to publicly support the swearing in of a parallel Supreme Court unconstitutionally appointed by opposition legislators and allowed them to use the OAS headquarters in Washington DC for their ceremony – without the approval of any OAS member state. Almagro has thereby delegitimized the OAS, emboldened the most extreme and violent elements of the Venezuelan opposition, and side-lined efforts at mediation.


The US-Canadian sanctions represent a cynical use of coercive economic power to attack a nation that is already dealing with hyperinflation and shortages of basic commodities. While said to be in the name of advancing democracy and freedom, the sanctions violate the Venezuelan peoples’ basic human right to sovereignty, as outlined in the UN and OAS Charters.


We call on the political leaders of the United States and Canada to reject overheated rhetoric and to contribute to the search for real solutions to Venezuela’s political and economic problems. We urge the US and Canadian governments to rescind their sanctions and support the mediation efforts pursued by the Chancellor of the Dominican Republic Miguel Vargas, the President of Dominican Republic Danilo Medina, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Vatican, and supported by a growing number of Latin American nations.


* Chapter 4 Article 19 of the OAS Charter states: No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.






UNITED STATES Noam Chomsky Danny Glover, Citizen-Artist Estela Vazquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit Jill Stein, Green Party


Peter Knowlton, General President, United Electrical Workers Dr. Frederick B. Mills, Department of Philosophy, Bowie State University Dr. Alfred de Zayas, former Chief, Petitions Dept, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Medea Benjamin, co-founder, Code Pink Dan Kovalik, Counsel, United Steelworkers Union


Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local10 (retired) Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, President, National Lawyers Guild Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice James Early, Articulation of Afro Descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean Gloria La Riva, coordinator, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee


Karen Bernal, Chair, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, co-directors, Popular Resistance Chris Bender, Administrator, SEIU 1000, retired Mary Hanson Harrison, President Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council


Tamie Dramer, Executive Boardmember, California Democratic Party Greg Wilpert, journalist School of Americas Watch (SOAW) Coordinating Collective Gerry Condon, President, Board of Directors, Veterans for Peace Tiana Ocasio, President, Connecticut Labor Council for Latin American Advancement


Leah Bolger, Coordinator, World Beyond War Alexander Main, Senior Assoc for Intl Policy, Center for Economic and Policy Research Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund Dr. Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Berthony Dupont, Director, Haiti Liberté Newspaper


Marsha Rummel, Adlerperson, City of Madison Common Council, District 6 Monica Moorehead, Workers World Party Kim Ives, Journalist, Haiti Liberté Cindy Sheehan, Cindy’s Soapbox Claudia Lucero, Executive Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America


William Camacaro, Venezuela activist Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace David W. Campbell, Secretary-Treasurer, USW Local 675 (Carson, CA) Alice Bush, retired Northwest Indiana Division Director SEIU Local 73 Teresa Gutierrez, Co-Director International Action Center


Claire Deroche, NY Interfaith Campaign Against Torture Eva Golinger, journalist and writer The Cross Border Network (Kansas City) Antonia Domingo, Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War


Matt Meyer, National Co-chair, Fellowship of Reconciliation Rev. Daniel Dale, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), CLRN Board of Directors Daniel Chavez, Transnational Institute Kathleen Desautels, SP (8th Day Center for Justice*) Michael Eisenscher, National Coord. Emeritus, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)


Dr. Paul Dordal, Director, Christian Network for Liberation and Equality Dr. Douglas Friedman, Director International Studies, College of Charleston Fr. Charles Dahm, Archdiocesan Director of Domestic Violence Outreach Blase Bonpane, Director, Office of the Americas Larry Birns, Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs


Task Force on the Americas Dr. Sharat G. Lin, former president, San Jose Peace and Justice Center Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator, International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity National Network on Cuba


Diana Bohn, Co-coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action Joe Jamison, Queens NY Peace Council Jerry Harris, National Secretary, Global Studies Association of North America MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles Charlie Hardy, author, Cowboy in Caracas


Dan Shea, National Board, Veterans For Peace Houston Peace and Justice Center Dr. Christy Thornton, Fellow, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University Code Pink Houston Workers Solidarity Action Network.org


Rochester Committee on Latin America Patricio Zamorano, Academic and International Affairs Analyst Cliff Smith, business manager, Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local 36 Michael Bass, Convener, School of the Americas Watch-Oakland/East Bay Joe Lombardo, Marilyn Levin, Co-Coordinators of United National Antiwar Committee


Dr. Jeb Sprague-Silgado, University of California Santa Barbara Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) Dr. Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer Chair in Indigenous Governance Ryerson University Lee Gloster, Steward IBT 364, Trustee, N. Central IN Labor Chapter, N. IN Area Labor Federation Celeste Howard, Secretary, WILPF, Portland Branch (Oregon)


Mario Galván, Sacramento Action for Latin America Hector Gerardo, Executive Director, 1 Freedom for All Jorge Marin, Venezuela Solidarity Committee Ricardo Vaz, writer and editor of Investig’Action Dr. T.M. Scruggs, University of Iowa, Professor Emeritus


Dr. Mike Davis, Dept. of Creative Writing, Univ. of CA, Riverside; editor of the New Left Review Dr. Lee Artz, Dept of Media Studies; Director, Center for Global Studies, Purdue University Northwest Dr. Arturo Escobar, Dept. of Anthropology University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Cheri Honkala, Director, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign Suren Moodliar, Coordinator, Encuentro5 (Boston)


Dr. Jack Rasmus, Economics Dept., St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Rich Whitney, Co-chair, Green Party Peace Action Committee David Bacon, independent photojournalist Dr. Kim Scipes, Department of Sociology, Purdue University Northwest


Jeff Mackler, National Secretary, Socialist Action Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) Henry Lowendorf, Co-chair, Greater New Haven Peace Council Judith Bello, Ed Kinane (founders), Upstate Drone Action Dr. Daniel Whitesell, Lecturer in the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese, UCLA


Dr. William I. Robinson, Sociology and Global and International Studies, UC-Santa Barbara Emmanuel Rozental, Vilma Almendra, Pueblos en Camino, Abya Yala Ben Manski, President, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution Frank Pratka, Baltimore-Matanzas Association/Maryland-Cuba Friendship Coalition Dr. Hilbourne Watson, Emeritus, Department of International Relations, Bucknell University


Dr. Minqi Li, Economics Department, University of Utah Christina Schiavoni, PhD researcher, Boston Dr. Robert E. Birt, Department of Philosophy, Bowie State University Topanga Peace Alliance Judy Somberg, Susan Scott, Esq., Co-chairs, National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas


Audrey Bomse, Esq., Co-chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee Daniel Chavez, Transnational Institute Barby Ulmer, Board President, Our Developing World Barbara Larcom, Coordinator, Casa Baltimore/Limay; President, Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance Nick Egnatz, Veterans for Peace


Dr. Marc Becker, Latin American Studies, Truman State University Dr. John H. Sinnigen, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Dr. Dale Johnson, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Rutgers University Sulutasen Amador, Co-coordinator, Chukson Water Protectors Mara Cohen, Communications Hub, Trade Justice Alliance


Dorotea Manuela, Co-Chair Rosa Parks Human Right Committee Efia Nwangaza, Malcom X Center – WMXP Community Radio Dr. Chris Chase-Dunn, Sociology, University of California-Riverside Dr. Nick Nesbitt, Comparative Literature, Princeton Timeka Drew, coordinator, Global Climate Convergence


Jack Gilroy, Friends of Franz & Ben www.bensalmon.org Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Social Justice Committee Victor Wallis, Professor, Liberal Arts, Berkeley College of Music


CANADIAN Jerry Dias, President, UNIFOR Mike Palecek, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers Harvey Bischof, President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation Mark Hancock National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Stephanie Smith, President of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union


Linda McQuaig, journalist and author, Toronto Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress Heide Trampus, Coordinator, Worker to Worker, Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Network Rights Action (U.S. and Canada)


Joe Emersberger, writer, UNIFOR member Nino Pagliccia, Jorge Arancibia, Marta Palominos, Frente para la Defensa de los Pueblos Hugo Chavez Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – Vancouver The Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) Maude Barlow, Chairperson, Council of Canadians Canadian Network on Cuba Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) – Vancouver Dr. William Carroll, University of Victoria, Canada Andrew Dekany, LL.M, Lawyer


Dr. Leo Panitch, Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) Alma Weinstein, Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel Toronto Maria Elena Mesa, Coord, Sunday Poetry and Festival Internacional de Poesia Patria Grande, Toronto Dr. Radhika Desai, University of Manitoba


OTHER Sergio Romero Cuevas, former Mexican Ambassador to Haiti Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos, Oaxaca, Mexico