Open Letter in Support of Mediation not Sanctions on Venezuela

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.

Signers:

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. 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
Dr. Frederick B. Mills, Department of Philosophy, Bowie State University

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, Northern Indiana 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 http://www.bensalmon.org
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Social Justice Committee
Victor Wallis, Professor, Liberal Arts, Berkeley College of Music

CANADA
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
Dr. Grazia Ietto-Gillies, Emeritus professor of Applied Economics, London South Bank University; expert for UNCTAD [United Nations Transnational Corporations and Management Division]; co-founder of the World Economics Association
Sergio Romero Cuevas, former Mexican Ambassador to Haiti
Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos, Oaxaca, Mexico

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