• Open Letter by Over 70 Scholars and Experts Condemns US-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela

  • 25 Jan 19 Posted under: Latin America , North America
  • "For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents."

    As many American lawmakers, pundits, and advocacy groups remain conspicuously silent in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Venezuela's opposition leader as the "interim president"—a move that was denounced as open support for an attempted coup d'état—renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, filmmaker Boots Riley, and over 70 other academics and experts issued an open letter on Thursday calling on the Trump administration to "cease interfering in Venezuela's internal politics."

    "Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability," the letter reads. "The U.S. and its allies must cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change. If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability."

    Highlighting the harm American sanctions have inflicted upon the Venezuelan economy and people, the letter goes on to denounce the White House's "aggressive" actions and rhetoric against Venezuela's government, arguing that peaceful talks are the only way forward.

    "In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections," the letter reads. "For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis."

     

    published at: Common Dreams, 24.01.2019, by Common Dreams Staff; under Creative Commons Licence;

     

    Read the full letter:

     

    The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability.

    Venezuela’s political polarization is not new; the country has long been divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. But the polarization has deepened in recent years. This is partly due to US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means. While the opposition has been divided on this strategy, US support has backed hardline opposition sectors in their goal of ousting the Maduro government through often violent protests, a military coup d’etat, or other avenues that sidestep the ballot box.

    Under the Trump administration, aggressive rhetoric against the Venezuelan government has ratcheted up to a more extreme and threatening level, with Trump administration officials talking of “military action” and condemning Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, as part of a “troika of tyranny.” Problems resulting from Venezuelan government policy have been worsened  by US economic sanctions, illegal under the Organization of American States and the United Nations ― as well as US law and other international treaties and conventions. These sanctions have cut off the means by which the Venezuelan government could escape from its economic recession, while causing a dramatic falloff in oil production and worsening the economic crisis, and causing many people to die because they can’t get access to life-saving medicines. Meanwhile, the US and other governments continue to blame the Venezuelan government ― solely ― for the economic damage, even that caused by the US sanctions.

    Now the US and its allies, including OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, have pushed Venezuela to the precipice. By recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the new president of Venezuela ― something illegal under the OAS Charter ― the Trump administration has sharply accelerated Venezuela’s political crisis in the hopes of dividing the Venezuelan military and further polarizing the populace, forcing them to choose sides. The obvious, and sometimes stated goal, is to force Maduro out via a coup d’etat.

    The reality is that despite hyperinflation, shortages, and a deep depression, Venezuela remains a politically polarized country. The US and its allies must cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change. If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability. The US should have learned something from its regime change ventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and its long, violent history of sponsoring regime change in Latin America.

    Neither side in Venezuela can simply vanquish the other. The military, for example, has at least 235,000 frontline members, and there are at least 1.6 million in militias. Many of these people will fight, not only on the basis of a belief in national sovereignty that is widely held in Latin America ― in the face of what increasingly appears to be a US-led intervention ― but also to protect themselves from likely repression if the opposition topples the government by force.

    In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections. There have been efforts, such as those led by the Vatican in the fall of 2016, that had potential, but they received no support from Washington and its allies who favored regime change. This strategy must change if there is to be any viable solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

    For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis.

     

    Signed:

    Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, MIT and Laureate Professor, University of Arizona
    Laura Carlsen, Director, Americas Program, Center for International Policy

    Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University

    Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American History and Chicano/a Latino/a Studies at Pomona College

    Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Political Economy and Sociology, University of Sydney

    Steve Ellner, Associate Managing Editor of Latin American Perspectives

    Alfred de Zayas, former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order and only UN rapporteur to have visited Venezuela in 21 years

    Boots Riley, Writer/Director of Sorry to Bother You, Musician

    John Pilger, Journalist & Film-Maker

    Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

    Jared Abbott, PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard University

    Dr. Tim Anderson, Director, Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies

    Elisabeth Armstrong, Professor of the Study of Women and Gender, Smith College

    Alexander Aviña, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Arizona State University

    Marc Becker, Professor of History, Truman State University

    Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, CODEPINK

    Phyllis Bennis, Program Director, New Internationalism, Institute for Policy Studies

    Dr. Robert E. Birt, Professor of Philosophy, Bowie State University

    Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University

    James Cohen, University of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle

    Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Associate Professor, George Mason University

    Benjamin Dangl, PhD, Editor of Toward Freedom

    Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Faculty of Professional and Social Sciences, Middlesex University, UK

    Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Wesleyan University

    Jodie Evans, Cofounder, CODEPINK

    Vanessa Freije, Assistant Professor of International Studies, University of Washington

    Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in International Development Studies, St. Mary’s University

    Evelyn Gonzalez, Counselor, Montgomery College

    Jeffrey L. Gould, Rudy Professor of History, Indiana University

    Bret Gustafson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

    Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University

    John L. Hammond, Professor of Sociology, CUNY

    Mark Healey, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

    Gabriel Hetland, Assistant Professor of Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies, University of Albany

    Forrest Hylton, Associate Professor of History, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín

    Daniel James, Bernardo Mendel Chair of Latin American History

    Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice

    Daniel Kovalik, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh

    Winnie Lem, Professor, International Development Studies, Trent University

    Dr. Gilberto López y Rivas, Professor-Researcher, National University of Anthropology and History, Morelos, Mexico

    Mary Ann Mahony, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University

    Jorge Mancini, Vice President, Foundation for Latin American Integration (FILA)

    Luís Martin-Cabrera, Associate Professor of Literature and Latin American Studies, University of California San Diego

    Teresa A. Meade, Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture, Union College

    Frederick Mills, Professor of Philosophy, Bowie State University

    Stephen Morris, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Middle Tennessee State University

    Liisa L. North, Professor Emeritus, York University

    Paul Ortiz, Associate Professor of History, University of Florida

    Christian Parenti, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, John Jay College CUNY

    Nicole Phillips, Law Professor at the Université de la Foundation Dr. Aristide Faculté des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques and Adjunct Law Professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law

    Beatrice Pita, Lecturer, Department of Literature, University of California San Diego

    Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology

    Vijay Prashad, Editor, The TriContinental

    Eleanora Quijada Cervoni FHEA, Staff Education Facilitator & EFS Mentor, Centre for Higher Education, Learning & Teaching at The Australian National University

    Walter Riley, Attorney and Activist

    William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

    Mary Roldan, Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History, Hunter College/ CUNY Graduate Center

    Karin Rosemblatt, Professor of History, University of Maryland

    Emir Sader, Professor of Sociology, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro

    Rosaura Sanchez, Professor of Latin American Literature and Chicano Literature, University of California, San Diego

    T.M. Scruggs Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

    Victor Silverman, Professor of History, Pomona College

    Brad Simpson, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

    Jeb Sprague, Lecturer, University of Virginia

    Kent Spriggs, International human rights lawyer

    Christy Thornton, Assistant Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University

    Sinclair S. Thomson, Associate Professor of History, New York University

    Steven Topik, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine

    Stephen Volk, Professor of History Emeritus, Oberlin College

    Kirsten Weld, John. L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of History, Harvard University

    Kevin Young, Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Patricio Zamorano, Academic of Latin American Studies; Executive Director, InfoAmericas


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