April 3, 2019
Washington, DC ? Groups around the US are pressing Congress to oppose economic sanctions and military intervention, and support dialogue in Venezuela. Over 40 organizations, representing millions of Americans, sent a letter to members of Congress urging support for dialogue to resolve the crisis in Venezuela and to oppose economic sanctions and threats of military action by the Trump administration. This letter, distributed yesterday by Just Foreign Policy, was delivered to every Representative and Senator on Tuesday, April 2 at 9 am EDT.
This letter was led by Just Foreign Policy and signed by a diverse coalition of national peace, Latinx, veterans, faith-based and economic justice advocacy groups, including Demand Progress, Peace Action, Sisters of Mercy Justice Team, American Friends Service Committee, Vote Vets, Common Defense, Alianza Americas, CASA de Maryland, Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), CODEPINK, Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Center for International Policy Americas Program, and many more.
“Grassroots pressure on Congress could not come at more critical time for Venezuela,” Alex Main, Director of International Policy for the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), said. “As the statement notes, ‘Broad economic sanctions, unilaterally imposed by the Trump administration since August of 2017, have caused great hardship and loss of life.’ The latest round of sanctions launched in January are worsening the current crisis and leading to even more suffering by leading to fewer imports, including of food and medicine, and cutting off avenues for economic recovery.”
US officials in charge of policy toward Venezuela, such as Elliott Abrams, have pursued a strategy of provocation and confrontation. President Trump has publicly declared that all options, including US military force, “are on the table.” Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe recounted that in 2017, President Trump argued that Venezuela is the “country we should be going to war with. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.”
“There truly is no military solution to the crisis in Venezuela and 40+ advocacy groups believe our best chance at peace is through dialogue, lifting the sanctions, and taking unauthorized war completely off the table,” Hassan El-Tayyab, Co-Director of Just Foreign Policy, said.
INTERVIEW AVAILABLE WITH HASSAN EL-TAYYAB, Co-Director of Just Foreign policy, one of the leading contributors to the pressure resulting in the Senate’s passage of the War Powers Resolution to end US involvement in the Saudi war on Yemen. El-Tayyab has been working to end the war in Yemen and working to prevent war in Venezuela through direct lobbying, publishing his writings, grassroots organizing, public speaking, media appearances, and working to create a larger platform for frontline communities working for peace.
The full statement follows:
Dear Members of Congress,
We, the undersigned groups, wish to express our grave concern regarding the Trump administration’s dangerous and destructive regime change strategy targeting Venezuela. Broad economic sanctions unilaterally imposed by the administration since August of 2017 have caused great hardship and loss of life for many Venezuelans. The latest round of sanctions announced in January are expected to worsen the current crisis and provoke even greater human suffering throughout the country.
Though many observers have noted that civil war is an increasingly likely prospect, administration officials are vigorously opposing peaceful dialogue between the country’s political actors and have made open threats of military intervention.
We call on you to take a strong, public stand against these immoral, reckless, and illegal policies and to support efforts to advance peaceful dialogue, before it is too late.
We urge you to:
• Oppose economic sanctions:
Although government mismanagement and the fall in global oil prices are to blame for much of Venezuela’s deep crisis, the Trump administration’s economic sanctions — both the August 2017 financial sanctions and the January 2019 sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry — are resulting in billions of dollars of additional lost foreign exchange necessary for essential imports, according to experts and even administration officials like NSC Advisor John Bolton. In the current context these sanctions will inevitably generate greater human suffering, including many deaths from lack of medicine and other essential imports. Unilateral economic sanctions are illegal under the UN Charter and the OAS Charter; and research shows that they are generally ineffective in achieving desired political results.
• Oppose threats of military intervention:
President Trump has reportedly argued for military intervention in Venezuela since early 2017, while he and various other administration officials have repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table” for Venezuela. These threats are absolutely unacceptable, particularly regarding a country that poses no threat to the U.S., and are only increasing the immense political polarization in Venezuela. Members of Congress should firmly denounce these threats and make the adoption of the “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act” a top priority. They should also commit to invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution in the event that President Trump and his Administration involve the military in any action directed at Venezuela, thereby triggering a debate and vote in Congress to terminate any unauthorized use of force.
• Support dialogue:
U.S. administration officials have rejected the possibility of dialogue and, instead, have pushed for immediate regime change in Venezuela, calling for Venezuela’s armed forces to rebel against the Maduro government. Experts have warned that this strategy could result in a split within the country’s military, with a potentially catastrophic violent outcome. Members of Congress should oppose the administration’s dangerous zero-sum strategy and advocate for peaceful dialogue. The Vatican, the UN Secretary General, Mexico, and Uruguay have all offered to help mediate dialogue and political negotiations to resolve the current crisis peacefully. Congress should support these efforts.
With the recent appointment of convicted Iran-Contra veteran Elliott Abrams as Special Envoy to Venezuela and the increasingly hawkish rhetoric coming from the White House, your support could not come at a more crucial time. There is no moral, legal, or political justification for the collective punishment of the economic sanctions, which target the Venezuelan population. There is no military solution; Venezuela’s crisis must be solved through dialogue and negotiations. Congress should therefore insist on lifting destructive economic sanctions, and taking unauthorized war off the table.
Just Foreign Policy
American Friends Service Committee
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Presbyterian Church (USA)
CASA de Maryland
Franciscan Action Network
Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
National Day Laborers Organizing Network
Chicago Religious Leadership Network
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Center for International Policy – Americas Program
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) – New Internationalism Project
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Environmentalists against War
Arise for Social Justice
Just Associates (JASS)
Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)
Guatemala Human Rights Commission
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
World Beyond War
Vermont Workers’ Center
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
Traprock Center for Peace and Justice
Brooklyn for Peace
The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice
One Corea Now
Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA)
Nation Time Judicial Research
Western Massachusetts Code Pink
Peace Action Montgomery
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 23, Rochester, NY
Peace Action New York State
Massachusetts Peace Action
Western Massachusetts Venezuela Solidarity Coalition
New Jersey Peace Action
Action Corps NYC