The following letter to Amnesty International was signed by various writers, academics and political activists including Australian filmmaker, John Pilger; Canadian journalist and author, Linda McQuaig; former UN independent investigator on Venezuela, Afred De Zayas; the Venezuela-based academic Steve Ellner and journalists working the reader-supported media outlet VenezuelAnalysis.com.
Last year, Amnesty International was asked if it denounced US-led economic sanctions on Venezuela and remarks by various US officials (Trump, Rex Tillerson) encouraging a military coup in Venezuela. Amnesty said it took no position on these matters. Now the US has “recognized” a Venezuelan legislator as Venezuela’s new president. This strategy has been applauded by prominent Venezuelan opposition members as a way to prevent Venezuela’s state oil company from getting paid for oil sales to the United States without the authorization of the “new government” named by Trump. It amounts to an effort to impose an oil embargo on Venezuela aimed at driving Venezuela’s government from office through a military uprising.
US-backed military coups in the Western Hemisphere have cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the post WWII era. In this century alone, a US-perpetrated coup in Haiti (in 2004) cost thousands of lives.
Before this recent escalation, US financial sanctions have already cost the Venezuelan government over $6 billion USD in lost revenue since August of 2017 in an economy that was only able to import $11.7 billion USD worth of goods in 2018. As US economist Mark Weisbrot noted the sanctions “do actually kill people by depriving them of access to medicines”
Amnesty has denounced governments and even non-state actors for saying things that encourage attacks on vulnerable people. Amnesty should similarly object when the world’s most powerful government produces a steady stream of comments that make it crystal clear a military coup in Venezuela would be welcome – as indeed the Bush administration made clear in 2002 when it welcomed the dictatorship of Pedro Carmona. This kind of support for a military coup is, just like other statements that Amnesty has previously denounced, aiding and abetting of human rights violations. For example Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just stated the following on January 10.
The U.S. condemns #Maduro’s illegitimate usurpation of power and urges those who support the Venezuelan regime, including security forces sworn to support the constitution, to stop enabling repression and corruption. The time is NOW for a return to democracy in #Venezuela.
Amnesty should change its position. US economic sanctions and remarks like these from US officials should be strongly opposed.
Max Blumenthal, GrayZone Project
David Cromwell, Media Lens
Paul Dobson, VenezuelAnalysis
David Edwards, Media Lens
Lucas Koerner, VenezuelAnalysis
Mnar Muhawesh, MintPress News
Ben Norton, Real News Network
Cira Pascual Marquina, VenezuelAnalysis
Anya Parampil, RT America
Mark D. Stansbery
Ed Sykes, The Canary (UK)
Ricardo Vaz, VenezuelAnalysis
Greg Wilpert, Real News Network
Alfred de Zayas
Top Photo | Activist Medea Benjamin with the group Code Pink, heckles remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during an extraordinary session about the crisis in Venezuela held by the Organization of American States, Jan. 24, 2019 in Washington. Luis Alonso Lugo | AP
Joe Emersberger is a Canadian engineer and UNIFOR member with Ecuadorian roots. He writes primarily for Telesur English and Znet.