Civil society open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Venezuela

In several ceasefire blog posts we have highlighted the misleading narrative that has been widely propagated regarding the true causes of the crisis in Venezuela and, more importantly, what should be done to end it peacefully. Most recently we focused on the explosive comments of the legal scholar and former UN official Alfred de Zayas:

We are swimming in an ocean of lies….

For the full article see: Ex-UN Human Rights Expert Blasts ‘Manipulation’ on Venezuela: ‘We are Swimming in an Ocean of Lies’ ( Ben Norton, thegrayzone.com, 20 March 2019).

The situation has become even more dangerous given the escalating war of words between President Trump and President Putin over an apparent recent deployment of Russian special forces to Venezuela in support of the embattled President Maduro.

This, then, is the troubling background to an important Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau entitled Statement of Concern on the Crisis in Venezuela. That letter begins:

The undersigned, coming from academia, civil society organizations, and the labour movement, are Canadian citizens who value the vital importance of adherence to international law and to United Nations principles of non-aggression. We feel compelled to express our deep concerns about Canada’s involvement in the political and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Venezuela. We specifically lament the fact that, in concert with the Lima Group, it is orchestrating regime change in that country.

Signed by 15 civil society organizations and 167 individuals from across Canada, including the Rideau Institute and its President, Peggy Mason, the document expresses our manifold concern for the deeply negative role that our government is playing in this crisis — the very antithesis of the role of impartial facilitator in accordance with UN principles of peaceful conflict resolution.

The Open Letter concludes as follows:

Under these circumstances we demand that the Canadian government should immediately abandon its current policy stance in favour of one that is clearly based on the following four pillars:

  • Active opposition to any partisan external interventions in Venezuela’s internal affairs (where “partisan” refers to explicit, a priori support for any of the contending factions).
  • The immediate cessation of all economic sanctions, since in international law these are clearly tantamount to external aggression, and since they clearly impose untold human suffering on the Venezuelan people;
  • The restoration of Venezuela’s normal access to international markets and finance, and the delivery of international emergency aid through UN – and other impartial – channels to mitigate the current humanitarian crisis;
  • And finally, active support for impartial efforts to promote dialogue, mediation and negotiations, such as the Montevideo Mechanism proposed by Mexico, Uruguay and CARICOM. The aim should be to help Venezuelans work towards achieving political consensus. Ultimately this should engender constructive democratic engagement, contributing to a sustained and positive vision of the country, and supported by the bulk of its population.

Click here for the full text of the Statement of Concern and the signatory list, in both English and French.

Click here for the latest utterly misguided Global Affairs statement on Venezuela.

Update on Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen

Canadians have yet to hear details from the Government of Canada on the results, if any, from the seemingly never ending “review” of Canada’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, with even the USA calling for a probe of the Saudi-led coalition bombing on 26 March of a Save the Children-supported hospital in Yemen.

Compare Canada’s unconscionable inaction and delay with that of Germany, which yesterday announced a further extension of its ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia:

“The ban will be extended for a further six months to September 30,” read an e-mailed statement by government spokesman Steffen Seibert. “Over this period no new export applications will be approved.”

We call again on the Government of Canada to finally end Canadian complicity in  war crimes by ceasing arms shipments to Saudi Arabia.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (International Court of Justice)

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