To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
My name is Elizabeth Otaola, I am an International Affairs and Communication Studies double major in Northeastern University. I am also a Venezuelan student, which is why I decided to reach out to you; because, the idea of keeping quiet simply did not seem like an option.
I am currently very proud to be a student at Northeastern University because I did not see any professors from my university sign their name to the letter you signed to John Kerry, urging him to respect the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. I have always admired all of the universities present in that letter - but at the moment, I am not the only student who doubts your allegations as a professor, and even your credibility. I apologize if you feel offended, but I felt offended when I read that letter, just like thousands of Venezuelan students, fighting for change, would probably feel insulted if they all read it. I am not writing against your ideological views, which even though I probably disagree with, I respect. I am not going to dwell on the irony of the letter, which writes to a US official who Elias Jaua (a Venezuelan minister), and Nicolas Maduro have called assassin on several occasions. I am not going to tell you in detail the reasons for the protest, like scarcity and a soaring crime rate; nor am I going to respond in detail to the several fallacies the document you signed presented, for example: Maria Corina Machado signed a decree accepting Pedro Carmona as president, which is not true; at that point all of the contents of the letters are clearly doubtful, if not completely false. I am not going to rant about the sadness and disappointment some Harvard alumni must feel at this letter because of some of the signatories from the Ivy league, most exemplary because Leopoldo Lopez, a Harvard graduate has been imprisoned for over a month with no trial. No, from this point forward I am only going to talk about the law, which you so fervently claim to defend in your communication to the Secretary of State.
I have to admit, I am not a law student. I am simply a Venezuelan who knows her rights. These past few weeks I have memorized article 350 of the Venezuelan Carta Magna, the article that millions of students are abiding by during their struggle.
The article states “The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates the values, democratic principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.” You might disagree that the students have enough reasons to believe this article should be applied, but in their view, (which I share) their freedom has been violated in more ways than one. Democracy, which they defend, and you claim to defend, does not only consist of elections, nor are they even the essence for democracy. Democracy allows for freedom of speech and independent institutions within the government, which no longer seems to be the case. If you disagree, then you should evaluate what your ideas are for freedom of speech; for in Venezuela, there is not a single public news channel that informs the views from the opposition, and in these past few days, they have shown their bias by only broadcasting pro-government demonstrations and none of the massive opposition rallies. The People’s defendant has justified the abuses of power coming from the National Guard. Hundreds of statements have been issued denouncing torture, and they have been dismissed and/or justified. One of the most memorable cases is of a National Guard beating a woman with her helmet while she pinned her against the floor. The woman beaten was charged, and the guard (who has been identified) has been exempt.
Article 132: “The National Armed Forces are an apolitical, obedient and non-deliberative institution, organized by the State to secure the national defense, stability of democratic institutions and respect for the Constitution and the law, whose observance is always above any other obligation. The National Armed Forces shall be at the service of the Republic, and in no case to a person or political bias.” This article has been violated by the government a number of times, not only under Nicolas Maduro, but also under Hugo Chavez, when they declared themselves to be “radically chavista.” To this day, the government uses the FANB (Armed forces) to portray their power by the showcase of unconstitutional pro-government marches.
Article 182: “To be elected President of the Republic, the candidate must be Venezuelan by birth, over thirty years of age and not be a member of the clergy.” Nicolas Maduro, has not only failed to prove his Venezuelan nationality, but has dismissed valid proofs of his Colombian nationality. In addition, members of the Venezuelan government have not seemed to agree on where Mr. Maduro was born, since at least four of them have named different places of his birth in Venezuela. Walter Marquez, a Venezuelan congressman (diputado) and historian has found that Nicolas Maduro’s birth certificate is not recorded in any civil registry in Caracas, by which his identification is fraudulent. Officials, have curiously declined to comment on this. He has found that Mr. Maduro has contradicted himself a number of times, especially when it comes to where his mother was born. Once he said she was born in the city of Rubio in Venezuela, when previously he had said she was born in Cucuta, Colombia.
Article 184: “A person who is in the office of President for the time of the election, or has been operating for over a hundred days in the preceding year, or who has relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or second degree in the presidency cannot be elected President of the Republic.” I think this one needs no explanation. Not only did president Hugo Chavez himself violate this rule, but also Nicolas Maduro, since he was president in charge when he ran for president.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) members, going against the law, have publicly identified to be chavistas, including the president of the council Tibisay Lucena, who mocks the law by constantly parading with the chavista colors. 5 permanent members, 4 out of which identify with the chavista movement, form the CNE. This does not guarantee a free and fair election, since they should be impartial. Also, their periods have expired, but they continue to exercise their functions with no objection from the other public institutions.
I can continue listing ways in which the government has violated the law, but I believe this email would then become too long, and I also have other obligations. If those are not enough reasons for you, I suggest you revise your idea of what rule of law is; since the government should be the first and foremost example. Government officials should be the most obedient to the law. They are public servants and not above the law. A country is in trouble when the president talks all day, and believes to be the most important person in the nation.
I invite you to read this post by a respected blogger, he also responded to the letter you signed, he touches on the points that I did not cover: http://lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.com/search?q=a+letter+to
Hopefully, you will respect the students’ legitimate fight to gain back their democracy, and if you truly believe Maduro’s words, then follow his advice: he does not want the “empire” or any “gringo pitiyanki” meddling in Venezuelan business. I want to make sure you know, I do not share his views on insulting sectors of the population or any international body. I respect different points of view, but I (along with my family and friends) have been called a fascist oligarch too many times by the government simply because of my political position to believe they hold us all Venezuelan equal under the eyes of the law. A government that mocks and insults half of the population does not deserve my respect.
Thank you for your attention,
I also took the liberty of also adding some student signatories to this letter:
Humberto Yanez, Law, Universidad Católica Andres Bello, Venezuela
Isabella Yitani, Production Engineering, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Isabella Rubartelli, Communication Studies, Universidad Monteavila, Venezuela
Maria Gabriela Gimon, Law, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Mariana Alfonzo, Business Administration, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Federica Schwarz, Business Administration, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Alejandra Ramos, Business Administration, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Andrea Hellmund, Communication Studies, Universidad Monteavila, Venezuela
Maria Clara Cardenas, Arquitecture, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela
Gabriela Toro, Civil Engineering, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Clarissa Arriaga, Civil Engineering, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Carlota Gonzalez, Production Engineering, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Andrea blessing, Communication Studies, Universidad Monteavila, Venezuela
Ana Carolina Arcay, Production Engineering, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Daniela Sanchez, Communication Studies, Universidad Católica A. B., Venezuela
Maria Claudia Di Guida, Psychology, Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela
Valentina Kube, Nutrition, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Venezuela
Federica Sanchez-Bueno, Economics, Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, Venezuela
Johaness A. Zadrozny, History and Philosophy, Vanderbilt University
Monica Garcia Menendez, Human Resource Management, New York University
Ramon Carmona, Political Science and Business, Northeastern University
Jennifer Alonso, Communication Studies, Northeastern University
Mariabel Fermin, Psychology and Education, Northeastern University
Soraya del Rocio, Architecture, Northeastern University
Veronica Ortega, Architecture, Northeastern University
Jorge Otaola, Business Finance, European University, Switzerland
Tiziana De Stefano, Business Administration, Universita degli studi di Salerno, Italy