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“The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics”

Solutions can only be brought about through negotiation

Open Letter by Noam Chomsky, Laura Carlsen, Miguel Tinker Salas, Greg Grandin, Alfred de Zayas et al.

cc. The following open letter was signed by 70 personalities, most of them from the USA. Many of them are scholars: Latin America experts, political scientists and historians. They are joined by filmmakers, civil society personalities and other experts. The letter was published in New York on Thursday, 24 January 2019. It is directed against the ongoing interference in Venezuela by the United States.

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.     •

Source: https://www.commondreams.org  from 24 January 2019

Venezuela is the country with the largest attested oil deposits in the world. With more than 300 billion barrels, constituting one quarter of the worldwide reserves, as estimated by OPEC, can be located in this South American country. (Situation: 2017)

signed by:
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