See the letter in: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/24/open-letter-united-states-stop-interfering-venezuelas-internal-politics
It is with sadness mixed with disdain that democracy-loving Venezuelans have read the letter signed by 70 members of academia and think tanks, mostly from the U.S. but some from other countries, about the current political and social Venezuelan situation. With sadness because universities and think tanks should be places inhabited by champions for the truth and for all the things that are just and noble, rather than by men and women who sacrifice truth and principles to their slavish adherence to political ideology. Disdain because the authors of the letter show intellectual dishonesty when they side with a government that violates the most basic human rights only to maintain their rigid attachment to political ideology or to their displeasure of the government of their country.
The authors of the letter say:
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.
The rejection of the Nicolas Maduro regime by the majority of Latin American governments, Canada and the U.S. and the prevailing tendency shown by world nations to recognize the interim government of Juan Guaidó, the young president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, has only come after many years of watching on the sidelines how a country is being driven onto the ground by an increasingly corrupt, inept and abusive authoritarian regime
The authors of the letter say:
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 Nicolas 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’état, or other avenues that sidestep the ballot box.
Such a statement would sound logical to aliens landing on Earth today but they can only cause hilarity to those millions of Venezuelan and regional observers who have seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears the increasingly fraudulent utilization of the electoral system by the Chavez/Maduro regime. With an Electoral Council totally in their hands and run by illegitimate members who obey orders from the Executive branch, the Chavez/Maduro regime has made a cruel mockery of elections in Venezuela. For a long time Venezuelans faithfully went to the polls only to see how fraud was committed before, during and after each election and how the will of the people was sacrificed to the rapacity and greed for power of the regime. If anything can be said of the manner the Venezuelan people and outside democracies have behaved in light of this systematic farce is that they have been too slow in reacting more vigorously.
The letter continues saying:
“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”.
The statements above are of an astonishing candor. Independently of what president of the U.S. has been in power since the so-called “Bolivarian revolution” took political control, the Venezuelan regime has been rejected as undemocratic and authoritarian by the U.S. and by a large majority of democratic nations of the planet. It is true that this current administration has been more assertive in its rejection. It was a matter of time before a largely passive critical posture gave way to more concrete measures to protect an increasingly defenseless population from the abuse of Nicolas Maduro has subjected them. It is amazing to hear surprise from the authors of the letter to the characterization of the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan regimes as “tyrannical”, a definition that fits perfectly in the eyes of all democracy and freedom loving citizens of the Americas.
U.S. sanctions against members of the Venezuelan regime engaged in drug trade and money laundering have been welcomed by most Venezuelans as an exercise of justice against the corrupt oligarchy dominating Venezuela. This is a justice which Venezuelans could not expect from a Venezuelan judicial system totally in the hands of the corrupt oligarchy in power. The collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the ruinous state of the country is not the product of U.S. sanctions but the end result of the incompetence and greed of the ruling regime. All over the world international justice is finding proof of the extent to which the Venezuelan national finances have been sacked by the members of a criminal gang in the name of a revolution that has ceased to exist, a ghost which the signatories of the letter still believe in and defend against all evidence of its demise, being prisoners of their ideological strait jacket.
The letter adds:
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 statedgoal, is to force Maduro out via a coup d’état.
In these paragraphs the authors of the letter talk of the illegal recognition of the Juan Guaidó interim presidency by the OAS. We are no legal experts and will not argue this point but we rely on Venezuelan constitutional experts who say that the designation by the Venezuelan National assembly of its president, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuelan interim president was made in accordance to the Venezuelan constitution, articles 201,233,333 and 350. For any observer reasonably informed of the Venezuelan situation it is evident that the Guaidó designation was approved in the streets of the country and of the world by an immense majority of Venezuelans, while the parallel meeting convoked by the regime became a pathetic reunion of a few hundred red shirts that dissolved melancholically after a short while. When talking about legitimacy of Maduro or Guaidó there is no doubt that Guaidó’s presidency has overwhelming support in Venezuela and abroad, except in isolated and dark places such as the minds of the authors of this letter.
The letter continues saying:
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…. 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.
Venezuela is no longer a polarized country if by this term an equal distribution of political forces is understood. Over 80% of Venezuelans openly reject the Maduro regime while much of the remaining 20%, in the government payroll, simply do not dare to do so openly, although they are equally fed up with the misery reigning in the country. The authors of the letter lie when they state, as a matter of fact, that many of the 235,000 members of the military and the 1.6 million members of the militia will fight to defend Maduro and his gang of thieves. The so-called military-civilian alliance typical of fascist regimes, advocated by Chavez’s adviser Norberto Ceresole, which served him to consolidate his political power, is rapidly melting away as salt in the ocean.
The letter ends, predictably, as follows:
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.
I say this is a predictable end to the letter because it confirms the desperate situation of the Maduro regime. Reduced to a skeleton gang of supporters in Venezuela, Maduro is now asking his fellow travelers of the intellectual community in the U.S. to call for a negotiated solution that will allow him and his gang to step aside in freedom and with their ill-obtained wealth intact. An estimated $300 billion have been put away by the 600 or so main members of the Chavez/Maduro gang. Only one man recently captured in the U.S., Alejandro Andrade, a semi-illiterate Treasurer of Venezuela during the Chavez era, has confessed to “distracting” one billion dollars from the national treasury. Another billion was taken by a contractor to the state oil company, PDVSA, also in the hands of the U.S. justice. Not all of the members of the regime are big leaguers but they all have filled their pockets with money that belonged to the Venezuelan people. To negotiate with such people what some call a silver bridge, “un Puente de Plata” to freedom would be immoral and would almost guarantee that the monies stashed away by these criminals would serve to finance, in the medium term, their return to power.
One such example is already in evidence. Rafael Ramirez, one of the three main accomplices of Hugo Chavez, now ostracized by Maduro, is using his considerable “savings” in financing an attempt at recapturing power, claiming to represent Chavez’s true legacy, a fight among hyenas painful to witness and of which these U.S. academics seem to have no knowledge.
Finally, I would like to add a comment on the authors of the letter. Some of the names are well known to me because they have been fellow travelers of Chavez from the start and still are, although there is no longer a revolution (did it ever exist?) but a rogue and failed government in place. Chomsky, Grandin, Tinker Salas, Ellner, Weisbrot,, have written extensively in favor of the Venezuelan socialism of the XXI century. Most are unknown to me and I can only evaluate them in my mind on the basis of the ignoble cause they defend. I do not know how many of them have ever been in Venezuela during the Chavez/Maduro years and have firsthand knowledge of the Venezuelan situation and of the overwhelming rejection of the Maduro regime by the Venezuelan people. In any case I feel sorry for them because they obviously feel obliged to defend a criminal regime only because it fits their ideological straitjacket. If they know the real Venezuelan situation they are being dishonest but, if they don’t know it, they have committed the major intellectual sin of giving an uninformed opinion, in violation of a cardinal rule of academics.
If anyone of these ladies and gentlemen think it desirable, I would be available for a public debate with them on this subject at a place of their choice.