Open Letter to President Obama: Retract your executive order against Venezuela

The following open letter press is being circulated by the Alliance for Global Justice

chavez-644x362.jpgOpen Letter to President Obama

President Barack Obama

White House

Washington, DC 20500

April 2, 2015

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, met your December 17, 2014 joint announcement with President Raul Castro of steps to normalize relations with Cuba with cautious optimism.  For decades the US has been isolated in its policy on Cuba, both from the rest of the hemisphere and the rest of the world. For the 23rd year in a row, the UN General Assembly voted last October (188-2) to condemn the US embargo of Cuba. 

The UN called on the US to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and regulations which violate the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction, and the freedom of trade and navigation.

We were pleased that the US was finally taking steps to come into compliance with international law. Yet our optimism turned to renewed concern the following day, December 18, when you signed a sanctions bill against Venezuela which appears to perpetuate the same failed policy toward Venezuela that you had just rejected toward Cuba. You hardened that policy on March 9 when you issued an executive order declaring a national emergency with respect to the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” This action also verified that the US is stepping up its support for regime change in Caracas. 

What is US hemispheric policy given this belligerent stance toward Venezuelan democracy? That is the question being asked by the world media and particularly by the sovereign States and multinational institutions of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which represents every country in South America, said your executive order constitutes a "threat of interference" against Venezuela's sovereignty and calls on you to revoke the order. While politics in Venezuela is polarized and economic disruption caused primarily by the falling price of oil have caused long lines and falling poll numbers for President Nicolas Maduro, we see nothing that could conceivably be described as an “extraordinary threat” to the US or even to Venezuela’s closest neighbors. We note that Colombia, the US’s closest ally in South America and even the Venezuelan opposition have rejected US sanctions.

Compared to Mexico and Honduras where state violence is endemic and the rule of law tenuous at best, Venezuela is not at all outside the norm among nations. Venezuela is not at war with any nation, does not have military bases outside its borders, and is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia; it is a champion of peace in the region. To call it a national security threat to the US diminishes the credibility of your administration in the eyes of the world. 

To those who know the dynamics in democratic Venezuela, this US policy stance is dangerous and provocative. To set the record straight, the Venezuelan government is democratically elected.  Presidents Chavez and Maduro were both elected in what former President Jimmy Carter declared to be the best election process in the world. (The Carter Center monitors and reports on elections worldwide.) Your executive declaration, however, is likely to be taken as a green light to the most hard line and anti-democratic forces in the country to continue to commit anti-government violence.

We call on you, President Obama, to rescind your executive order naming Venezuela a US national security threat. We call on you to stop interfering through funding and reckless public statements in Venezuela’s own democratic processes. And most of all, we encourage you to show to our Latin American neighbors that the US can relate to them in peace and with respect for their sovereignty.


Noam Chomsky, MIT

Eva Golinger, Human Rights attorney, author

Miguel Tinker-Salas, Professor, History Dept., Pomona College*

Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General, International human rights attorney

Chuck Kaufman, National Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice

James Early, Board Member, Institute for Policy Studies

Bill Fletcher, Jr., writer/activist/media host

Dr Frank Goldsmith, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, World Federation of Trade Unions

Cindy Sheehan, Peace and social justice activist and radio host/producer

Bill Preston, President, AFGE National VA Council District 14*, President, AFGE Local 17*

Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council

Beverly Bell, Coordinator, Other Worlds

Andrew Hochhalter, Director, Quixote Center

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action*

Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

Azadeh N. Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild

Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report*

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, President-Elect, National Lawyers Guild

Grahame Russell, Director, Rights Action [US & Canada]

Medea Benjamin, CoFounder, CODEPINK for Peace

Dan Kovalik, Labor and Human Rights lawyer

Steven Kramer, Exec. Vice President, 1199SEIU-UHWE*

Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch National Organizer

David Rovics, Singer/Songwriter, American Federation of Muscians Local 1000

Kevin Zeese, attorney and activist, co-director of Popular Resistance*

Margaret Flowers, physician and activist, co-director of Popular Resistance*

Gloria LaRiva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

Brian Becker, director, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

John (Jack) Laun, President, Colombia Support Network

Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Marilyn Levin, co-coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Roger Harris, President, Task Force on the Americas (Marin Co, CA)

Cherrene Horazuk, President, AFSCME Local 3800

Chris Townsend, Director of Field Mobilization, Amalgamated Transit Union*

Banbose Shango, A-APRP-GC*

John Womack Jr., Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin Am History and Economics, emeritus, Harvard U

Peter Phillips Ph.D., Professor Sociology, Sonoma State U; Pres. Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

Audrey Bomse, co-chair of the NLG Palestine Subcommittee

Marc Becker, Professor, Truman State University

Jackie Cabasso and Terry Rockefeller, National Co-conveners, United for Peace and Justice

Palmer Legare, Coordinator, Guatemala Solidarity Project

Dale Sorensen, Director, Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas (CA)

Dr. Henry S. Lowendorf, CoChair, Greater New Haven Peace Council 

Cindy Forster, Chair, History Department and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Scripps College

Adrienne Pine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, American University

Barry Ladendorf, President,. Veterans for Peace

Jack Gilroy, Friends of Franz Jagerstatter

Frederick B. Mills, Ph.D., Department of History and Government, Bowie State University

Linda J. Craft, Professor, North Park University, Chicago

Gilbert Joseph, Professor History & International Studies, Yale

Victoria Cervantes, co-chair, La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago

Harry E. Vanden, Ph.D., Professor Latin American Studies, University of South Florida

Gunnar Gundersen, Exec. V.P., Tokyo International University of America, Salem, OR

Xiomara García Gundersen, Oregon Bolivarian Circle, Professor of Mathematics, Salem, OR

Jack Gilroy, SOA Watch Prisoner of Conscience

Adrianne Aron, Ph.D., Berkeley, CA

Paki Wieland, SOA Watch November Coordinating Team

Barbara Larcom, Coordinator, Casa Baltimore/Limay

Judy Somberg, attorney, Co-chair NLG Task Force on the Americas

Lo Ross, Director, Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, Santa Cruz, CA

Cheryl LaBash, Co-Chair, National Network on Cuba

Chris Inserra, SOA Watch Stage and Program Team

Nico Udu-gama, SOA Watch Bilingual Space Collective

Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda, Asst. Professor, Chicana/o-Latina/o Transnational Studies, Pitzer College

Liisa L. North, Professor (ret.) and writer

Susan Scott, Co-Chair, NLG Task Force on the Americas

Irene Rodriguez, Coordinator, School of the Americas Watch-Boulder

Maria Luisa Rosal, SOA Watch Field Organizer

Isabel Garcia, Chair, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, Tucson, AZ

Jenne Ristau, SOA Watch Legislative Organizer

Francisco Herrera, Caminante Cultural, SOA Watch Stage and Program Team

Gary Prevost, Professor of Political Science, College of St Benedict/St. John's University  

Dominick Tuminaro, Professor, Brooklyn College Graduate Center for Worker Education

Sister Kathleen Desautels, SP, SOA Watch Peacemakers

Arnold Matlin, M.D., Founding Member, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, Geneseo, NY.

Stephen Bartlett, Director of Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville (SAL), Louisville, KY

Dwight Lawton, SOA Watch Prisoner of Conscience

Tanya Kerssen, Research Coordinator, Food First*

Mary Ann Tenuto, Coordinator, Chiapas Support Committee

Margaret Knapke, SOA Watch Prisoner of Conscience, Dayton Ohio

Milton Fisk, Retired, Philosophy, Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Arturo J. Viscarra, SOA Watch Advocacy Coordinator

Susan Letendre, Director, Witness for Peace New England

David Horvath, CoChair, Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America

Héctor Perla Jr., Asst. Prof., Latin American & Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Judy Liteky, Co-Founder, School of the Americas Watch, San Francisco, CA

Robert Nixon, Co-Founder, School of the Americas Watch, Oakland, CA

Dana Frank, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Iowa

Mary Lou Finn, for Neighbors for Peace, Evanston, IL

Brian Peterson, Ascension Lutheran Church (ELCA) , Austin, TX

José E. López, Executive Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Ana Lopez, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

Alejandro L. Molina, Coordinating Committee, National Boricua Human Rights Network

Judy Robbins, Let Cuba Live of Maine

James Wandera Ouma, Executive Director, LGBT Voice, Tanzania

Sharat G. Lin, Former president, San José Peace and Justice Center

Dr. Ramona Fernandez, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Kim Scipes, Associate Professor of Sociology, Purdue University North Central, Westville, IN

Ray Pagliaro , co-president, New Haven /León Sister City Project

Charles Callman, Coordinating Committee, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Stansfield Smith, Coordinator, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

Dr. Ed Brown, Chair, Leicester Masaya Link Group

Ann Tiffany, former SOAW prisoner of conscience

Hector Aristizabal, ImaginAction

Michael Wisniewski, L.A. Catholic Worker

Elizabeth Deligio, SOA Watch Council

Mike Tork, Veterans for Peace

Ed Kinane, former SOA prisoner of conscience, founder of the SOA Abolitionists

Charlie Hardy, 2014 Wyoming Democratic US Senate candidate

Jeanie Keltner, host Soapbox TV talk show, The Undernews radio talk show, KVMRFM

Claudia Chaufan, Associate Professor, University of California San Francisco

Daniele Kohn, Director, Action Resource Fund, New York

William Camacarro, Coordinator, Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle, WBAI radio host

Crystal Zevon, Independent Writer and Filmmaker, Searching for Occupy

Roger Keeran, Professor Emiritus, Empire State College (SUNY)

Katherine Hoyt, National Coordinator, Nicaragua Network

Steve Watrous, Chair, Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition

Gary L. Cozette, Program Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

Teresa Gutierrez, Natl Director, IAC Latin-America/Caribbean & Immigration Projects

Sara Flounders - CoDirector of International Action Center, author and activist


* For identification purposes only

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