A group of Australian academics, unionists, politicians, and others have urged the US to “stop interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs”. More than 70 prominent Australian progressives issued an open letter to US President Barack Obama condemning US sanctions against Venezuela on April 9.
The letter, initiated by the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign in Melbourne, is printed below. The letter was handed to US consulates in Sydney and Melbourne on April 10.
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No more coups! No more interventions! Repeal the Executive Order!
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, reject your March 9 declaration deeming Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.
We also oppose the sanctions your administration has placed on a number of Venezuelan state officials and call for the immediate repeal of your Executive Order on Venezuela.
The reality is that Venezuela today is not at war with any nation, nor does it have military bases outside its borders. In fact, Venezuela is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia and has constantly championed peace in the region.
Under the leadership of president Hugo Chavez, and now President Nicolas Maduro, Latin America has become a more unified and independent political force.
The establishment of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) has helped accelerate the process of integration and resolving conflicts among the states.
Evidence of this is the fact that the entire region, including Colombia, the US’s closest ally in South America, have rejected the Executive Order.
Moreover, to those who know the realities of Venezuela’s democratic system, it is evident that your stance is both dangerous and provocative.
While politics in Venezuela is polarised and economic disruption caused primarily by the falling price of oil has made life difficult in Venezuela, we see nothing that could conceivably be described as an “extraordinary threat” either to the people of Venezuela or the US.
To set the record straight, the Venezuelan government is democratically elected. Presidents Chavez and Maduro were both elected in what former US President Jimmy Carter declared one of the best electoral processes in the world.
Important sections of the Venezuelan opposition have come out against the Executive Order (demonstrating just how unpopular they are), but we are concerned that more hardline and anti-democratic forces in the country will interpret your declarations as a green light to continue committing acts of anti-government violence.
Sanctions, blockades and armed aggressions are no substitute for genuine dialogue. History has shown ― as your administration admitted last December 17 with regard to Cuba ― that these ineffective measures only succeed in causing harm to innocent people.
We call on you, President Obama, to rescind your Executive Order. We call on you to stop interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs and cease making reckless public statements regarding Venezuela’s democratic processes.
Most of all, we encourage you to demonstrate to Latin America that the US is capable of establishing relations based on the principles of peace and with respect for their sovereignty.
Dr. Rodrigo Acuna, Associate Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Macquarie University
Dr. Tim Anderson, Senior Lecturer (Political Science), University of Sydney
Dr. Robert Austin, Honorary Research Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, University of Queensland
Alex Bainbridge & Susan Price, National Co-Conveners, Socialist Alliance
Raul Bassi, Secretary, Indigenous Social Justice Association
Pat Bolster, Organiser, Retired Unionists Movement (RUM), New Zealand
Sue Bolton, Councilor, Moreland City Council (Victoria)
Kevin Bracken, State Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia (Victoria)
Bob Briton, General Secretary, Communist Party of Australia
Juan Campos, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) Committee, Sydney
Professor Barry Carr, La Trobe University (retired)
Francois Crespel, Online Direct Democracy Party, Melbourne
Kathy Fairfax & Stuart Munckton, Editors, Green Left Weekly
Federico Fuentes, author and journalist
Oscar Fuentes, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) Committee, Melbourne
Margaret Gleeson & Dr. Eulalia Reyes de Whitney, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Brisbane
Dr. Jeanne Guthrie, Editor/Writer, New Zealand
Sarah Hathway, National Co-Convener, Resistance – Young Socialist Alliance
Pip Hinman & Rachel Evans, Sydney branch co-convenors, Socialist Alliance
Maria E. Hurtado, Teacher, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Andrew Irving, Communist Party of Australia, Melbourne
Ray Jackson, President, Indigenous Social Justice Association
Roberto Jorquera, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, Socialist Alternative, Sydney
Dave Kerin, Project Officer, EarthWorker Cooperative, Melbourne
Dionicio Barrales Leal, Teacher, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dr. Kathryn Lehman, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland
Grace Leung, Latin America Solidarity Committee, New Zealand
Dr. Colin Long, State Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union (Victoria)
Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist, author and Guardian columnist
Lisa Macdonald, National Co-convener, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network
Myriam Raquel Machain, Grupo Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic, Sydney
Rita Mallia, State President, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Construction and Energy Division – NSW)
Orlando Maudier, Chile Solidarity Coalition, LASNET member
Jaime Wilson, Lucho Riquelme, Fernando Navarrete and Marisol Salinas, Coordinators, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Melbourne
Paul McAleer, Branch Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney branch
Godfrey Moase, Assistant Secretary, National Union of Workers (General Branch), Melbourne
Vinnie Molina, State Executive Council, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Western Australia)
Dr. Carlos Eduardo Morreo, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne
Dr. Sara Motta, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Newcastle
Victor-Hugo Munoz, Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Guatemala
Adriana Navarro, lawyer and notary public (Sydney)
Marlene Obeid, Australian Association of Social Workers and Australian College of Community Disability Practitioners, Sydney
Dr. Cristina Parra, PhD Senior Lecturer School of Social Sciences + Public Policy
AUT University Auckland, New Zealand
John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker
Walescka Pino-Ojeda, Director New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Lucho Riquelme, National Coordinator, Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET), Australia
Alejandro Rodriguez, Director, Structural Melbourne, Victoria
Denis Rogatyuk, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Melbourne
Dr. Peter Ross, Senior Lecturer (Spanish and Latin American Studies), University of New South Wales
Van Than Rudd, Visual Artist and social justice activist, Socialist Alternative, Melbourne
Paula Sanchez, Latin America Social Forum, Sydney
Joan Silk, Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Sydney branch)
Terry Spackman, Director, Community Foods Cairns, Queensland
Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia
Dr. Jonathan Strauss, political science researcher, James Cook University
Fiona Taler, Latin Sol. Group, New Zealand
Michael Taler, Senior Lecturer (retired), Auckland University of Technology
Sam Wainwright, Councilor, Fremantle City Council
Zochtiquetzal, Cultural Group Melbourne
The following people have also subsequently asked to have their names added or were inadvertently left off the letter handed in to the consulates
Dr. Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández, Lecturer, University of Sydney
Andrew Self, journalist, TeleSUR English, Postgraduate Associate, Institute of Latin American Studies, La Trobe University
Dr. Adrian Soh, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Melbourne
Martin Longwill, General Secretary, James Connolly Association of Australia, Sydney
Lee Rhiannon, NSW Senator, The Greens
Professor Adam David Morton, Chair of Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney
[Organisations and institutions listed for identification purposes only.]