We, the organizations and people who defend human rights, activists and promoters of Non Violence and Peace, conscientious objectors and anti-militarists, who take action in Venezuela, address this open letter to our friends throughout the world:
Venezuela suffers a Complex Humanitarian Emergency generated by political decisions, not by natural disasters or armed conflicts. Violence flourishes in societies without democratic guarantees for participation in free and fair elections to elect representatives and powers. There cannot be conditions of dignity and peace if there is not a decrease in poverty, hunger, inequality, and improvements in the access to basic goods and services for the entire population, especially for the most vulnerable sectors. To promote non-violence and peace we must advance in the elimination of the exercise of Power from the logic of authoritarianism.
In 2018, poverty rates reached approximately 48% of households. Inflation reached 1,229,724% and could reach 10 million% in 2019. A single family needs 60 monthly minimum wages to acquire the basic goods and services necessary to survive. In 2017, 64% of Venezuelans lost approximately 11 kilograms (24lbs.) of weight and 33% of children between 0-2 years of age suffer delays in their process of growth and development. 53% of Venezuelan households has had to recur to survival strategies such as begging and searching for food in the trash.
In 2018, non-governmental organizations reported that 60% of the medical attention that existed in 2011 had disappeared, the maternal mortality rate increased by 66% and child mortality rate by 30%. Since 2017, more than 79,000 people with HIV stopped receiving anti-retro-viral medicine. Venezuela has the highest growth rate of malaria cases in the world, adding 43% to the cases of malaria in Latin America. The resurgence of eradicated diseases such as tuberculosis (10,952 cases), diphtheria (9,362 cases), and smallpox has caused the deaths of at least 5,000 people. In 2018, the scarcity of medicine reached 85%. The deficit of beds available in hospitals reached 64%, 79% of hospitals do not have running water, 53% of operating rooms have closed, and 95% of medicine, medical supplies, and equipment are imported.
Millions of people have taken to the streets asking for free and credible elections, respect for the constitutional order, the separation of powers, and the rule of law. The response has been the implementation of a repressive military plan called “Plan Zamora”, with the participation of security forces, the National Bolivarian Guard, and armed civilians. According to non-government organizations, there were 6,729 protests in 4 months across the country, 135 people murdered, more than 12 thousand detained, 848 political prisoners, and over 230 victims of torture, cruel and unusual punishment, and millions in exile. The result has been a systematic persecution against the political dissidence which has generated the opening of a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. In 2017, the Fuerza de Acciones Especiales (FAES) police force was created with the purpose of conducting a social cleansing campaign in the popular barrios; they also committed arbitrary detentions, forced entries, and extrajudicial executions. According to the human rights organization, Provea, FAES has murdered at least 205 people.
On January 10, 2019, Nicolás Maduro proclaimed himself president for a second period, violating the national Constitution and installing a de facto government. The declarations by the United States government considering a military response have generated a comprehensible global reaction. Unfortunately, the reaction has not been to avoid a war, due to the tragedy which that would represent for the Venezuelan people and the region, and supporting the peaceful exit of Maduro from power so that the Venezuelan people can freely express their will. The reaction posed the conflict as one of Maduro and Venezuelan socialism versus Yankee imperialism. This reaction, by amplifying the Venezuelan government’s propaganda, commits a great act of injustice against the people, of whom the majority want a political change. If we want to talk about imperialism in Venezuela we must tell the whole truth. Our country continues being an exporter of petroleum, and the United States continues being a main commercial partner along with China and Russia. The land has been militarized with important negative consequences with the increase in mafia activity, slave-like conditions, sexual exploitation, environmental damage, a negative cultural effect on indigenous communities who have been transformed, along with campesinos, into miners, along with massacres and disappearances of miners.
We do not want a forceful military intervention. We do not want more death or pain. We urge the entire world to not ignore the clamor of the Venezuelan people. We can stop a war; we can stop a military intervention. It depends on every single one of us and our actions to place enough pressure so that the solution we face is non-violent, and inclusive, with the democracy and justice which the Venezuelan people and humanity itself deserves. We want it to be our voices and aspirations, not arms, which finally decide the future and destiny of our country. But for that, we need your help.
Authors: Alba Purroy, Alejandro Álvarez Iragorry, Alexis Ramirez, Alfredo Infante, Ángel Zambrano, Aura Scaramelli, Catalina Valera, Cristal Palacios Cristóbal Plaza, Daniel Arzola, Daniel Certain, Douglas Gómez, Erick Lairet, Euglis Palma, Feliciano Reyna, Gracia Salazar, Israel Valera Perez, Juan Carlos La Rosa, Katiuska Camargo, Lexys Rendón, María Eugenia Redondo, María Fernanda Abzueta, Norkys J. Salcedo, Rafael Uzcátegui, Raúl Hurtado, Robzayda Marcos Vera, Rodolfo Montes de Oca, Rolanda Larez, Santiago Zapata, Seymar Liscano, William Requejo, Zoraida Pacheco
ORGANIZATIONS: Acción Solidaria / Action for Solidarity, Asociación Civil Oportunidad, Centro de Justicia y Paz -Cepaz, Clima21 – Ambiente y Derechos Humanos, CODHEZ: Comisión para los Derechos Humanos del Estado Zulia, Conciencia Ciudadana A.C, Creemos Alianza Ciudadana, EXCUBITUS DHE, Instituto Mead de Venezuela A.C, Laboratorio Ciudadano de Noviolencia Activa, Laboratorio de Paz, LuchaNoViolentaEnVenezuela, Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea), Proyecta Ciudadanía A.C, Psiquearte, RedOrgBaguta, Revista SIC del Centro Gumilla, Unión Vecinal para la Participación Ciudadana A.C, Wainjirrawa
(TMC newspaper VOL. 49 No. 2 March 2019. All rights reserved.)