Australian Academics, Journalists, Unionists Tell Obama “Hands Off Venezuela”

A letter signed by over 70 high profile individuals from Australia and New Zealand has called on US President Barack Obama to “stop interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs” and revoke his March 9 Executive Order directed against the Nicolas Maduro government. 


Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, reject your March 9th 2015 declaration deeming Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.

We also oppose the sanctions your administration has placed on a number of Venezuelan state officials and call for the immediate repeal of your Executive Order on Venezuela.

The reality is that Venezuela today is not at war with any nation, nor does it have military bases outside its borders. In fact, Venezuela is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia and has constantly championed peace in the region.  

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, and now President Nicolas Maduro, Latin America has become a more unified and independent political force. 

The establishment of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) has all helped to accelerate the process of integration and the resolution of conflicts among the states.  

Evidence of this is the fact that the entire region, including Colombia, the US’s closest ally in South America, have rejected your Executive Order. 

Moreover, to those who know the realities of Venezuela’s democratic system, it is evident that your stance is both dangerous and provocative.  

While politics in Venezuela is polarized and economic disruption caused primarily by the falling price of oil has made life difficult in Venezuela, we see nothing that could conceivably be described as an “extraordinary threat” either to the people of Venezuela or to the US. 

To set the record straight, the Venezuelan government is democratically elected. Presidents Chavez and Maduro were both elected in what former US President Jimmy Carter declared to be one of the best electoral processes in the world. 

While important sections of the Venezuela opposition have come out against the Executive Order (demonstrating just how unpopular they are), we are concerned that more hardline and anti-democratic forces in the country will interpret your declarations as a green light to continue committing acts of anti-government violence. 

Sanctions, blockades and armed aggressions are no substitute for genuine dialogue. History has shown – as your administration admitted last December 17 with regard to Cuba – that these ineffective measures only succeed in causing harm to innocent people. 

We call on you, President Obama, to rescind your Executive Order.  

We call on you to stop interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs and cease making reckless public statements regardingVenezuela’s democratic processes. 

Most of all, we encourage you to demonstrate to Latin Americathat the US is capable of establishing relations based on the principles of peace and with respect for their sovereignty.


Dr. Rodrigo Acuna, Associate Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Macquarie University

Dr. Tim Anderson, Senior Lecturer (Political Science), University of Sydney 

Dr. Robert Austin, Honorary Research Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, University of Queensland

Alex Bainbridge & Susan Price, National Co-Conveners, Socialist Alliance

Raul Bassi, Secretary, Indigenous Social Justice Association

Pat Bolster, Organiser, Retired Unionists Movement (RUM), New Zealand

Sue Bolton, Councilor, Moreland City Council (Victoria)

Kevin Bracken, State Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia (Victoria) 

Bob Briton, General Secretary, Communist Party of Australia

Juan Campos, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) Committee, Sydney

Professor Barry Carr, La Trobe University (retired) 

Francois Crespel, Online Direct Democracy Party, Melbourne

Kathy Fairfax & Stuart Munckton, Editors, Green Left Weekly 

Federico Fuentes, author and journalist 

Oscar Fuentes, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) Committee, Melbourne 

Margaret Gleeson & Dr. Eulalia Reyes de Whitney, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Brisbane

Dr. Jeanne Guthrie, Editor/Writer, New Zealand

Sarah Hathway, National Co-Convener, Resistance – Young Socialist Alliance

Pip Hinman & Rachel Evans, Sydney branch co-convenors, Socialist Alliance 

Maria E. Hurtado, Teacher, Edmonton, Alberta Canada 

Andrew Irving, Communist Party of Australia, Melbourne 

Ray Jackson, President, Indigenous Social Justice Association

Roberto Jorquera, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, Socialist Alternative, Sydney

Dave Kerin, Project Officer, EarthWorker Cooperative, Melbourne 

Dionicio Barrales Leal, Teacher, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Kathryn Lehman, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

Grace Leung, Latin America Solidarity Committee, New Zealand 

Dr. Colin Long, State Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union (Victoria)

Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist, author and Guardian columnist

Lisa Macdonald, National Co-convener, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network

Myriam Raquel Machain, Grupo Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic, Sydney

Rita Mallia, State President, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Construction and Energy Division – NSW) 

Orlando Maudier, Chile Solidarity Coalition, LASNET member 

Jaime Wilson, Lucho Riquelme, Fernando Navarrete and Marisol Salinas, Coordinators, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Melbourne 

Paul McAleer, Branch Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney branch

Godfrey Moase, Assistant Secretary, National Union of Workers (General Branch), Melbourne

Vinnie Molina, State Executive Council, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Western Australia)

Dr. Carlos Eduardo Morreo, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne

Dr. Sara Motta, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Newcastle 

Victor-Hugo Munoz, Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Guatemala 

Adriana Navarro, lawyer and notary public (Sydney)

Marlene Obeid, Australian Association of Social Workers and Australian College of Community Disability Practitioners, Sydney

Dr. Cristina Parra, PhD Senior Lecturer School of Social Sciences + Public Policy, AUT University Auckland, New Zealand

John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker

Walescka Pino-Ojeda, Director New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Lucho Riquelme, National Coordinator, Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET), Australia

Alejandro Rodriguez, Director, Structural Melbourne, Victoria

Denis Rogatyuk, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Melbourne 

Dr. Peter Ross, Senior Lecturer (Spanish and Latin American Studies), University of New South Wales

Van Than Rudd, Visual Artist and social justice activist, Socialist Alternative, Melbourne

Paula Sanchez, Latin America Social Forum, Sydney

Joan Silk, Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Sydney branch)

Terry Spackman, Director, Community Foods Cairns, Queensland 

Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia

Dr. Jonathan Strauss, political science researcher, James Cook University

Fiona Taler, Latin Sol. Group, New Zealand 

Michael Taler, Senior Lecturer (retired), Auckland University of Technology

Sam Wainwright, Councilor, Fremantle City Council

Zochtiquetzal, Cultural Group Melbourne

The following people have also subsequently asked to have their names added or were inadvertently left off the letter handed in to the consulates

Dr. Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández, Lecturer, University of Sydney

Andrew Self, journalist, TeleSUR English, Postgraduate Associate, Institute of Latin American Studies, La Trobe University

Dr. Adrian Soh, La Trobe University, Melbourne 

Martin Longwill, General Secretary, James Connolly Association of Australia, Sydney 

Lee Rhiannon, NSW Senator, The Greens

Professor Adam David Morton, Chair of Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney