Caracas, March 23rd 2015 (Venezuelanalysis)- More than a million Venezuelans have spoken out against an Executive Order released by the Obama administration on March 9th, which brands Venezuela a “national security threat” and slaps several more Venezuelan state officials with sanctions.
Venezuelans have rallied in support of their government since the order was released and over a million have signed a letter demanding that Obama revoke his designation. The letter was initially circulated amongst the public last week by the Venezuelan government as part of a “peaceful” campaign against Washington´s actions.
“A country which has eradicated illiteracy, and which has structured all of its policies towards putting an end to the frightening poverty produced by the neoliberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s can´t be a threat,” stated Mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, who confirmed that over a million signatures had been collected in less than a week.
“We´re going for 10 million… To insist that we are not a threat,” he added.
Metro stations and public squares have become more of a hive of activity than usual over the last few days, as volunteers have set up makeshift tables with copies of the petition for passersby to sign.
Zulaica Campos, a biologist, has been volunteering outside La California metro station in Caracas since the campaign was launched.
“We are here because we really want Mr. Obama, the President of the United States, to revoke the decree in which he says that Venezuela is a threat against his country. Venezuela has never gone outside of its own borders, with the exception of liberating other countries (from colonialism).”
It´s not just Venezuela that could be affected by Obama´s order according to Campos, who sees her work encouraging others to sign the letter as a way of protecting Latin American sovereignty.
“We are a peaceful people… We will always fight for peace, and this petition that we are supporting is a tool for peace, for Venezuela, the whole world, and especially for Latin America, because we don´t want to be crushed by any other country. We want the U.S. to be a country like us… We know that the U.S. people are noble,” she explained.
Maria Ruiz De Alcala, is one of the many Venezuelans who was moved to sign the letter while coming out of La California metro station.
“Obama´s measure is against the people. The U.S. is accustomed to invading, causing damage and declaring war. We Venezuelans feel that our problems are our problems, and they should be resolved by us. We have a president who was elected by us, and we demand to be respected. We are prepared to give our lives for this if necessary,” stated Alcala, who was accompanied by her toddler grandson.
The petition is perhaps the most important part of a broader campaign to get Obama to backtrack on his decision, entitled “Venezuela is not a threat, we are hope”.
Over the weekend the campaign saw the Maduro administration release a video featuring the lyrics of John Lennon´s “Imagine” in order to convince Washington to tone down what it describes as an aggressive position. The video features smiling Venezuelan children, men and women and is a stark contrast to the U.S. president´s description of the country as a “security threat”.
Reactions to the order have also gone beyond Venezuelan borders, and social networking sites such as Twitter have been awash with global messages of support for the Venezuelan government. The hashtags #ObamaDerogaElDecretoYa or #ObamaRepealTheExecutiveOrder have been trending over the past few days, and have been tweeted over two million six hundred thousand times, according to Mayor Rodriguez.
“Protests in Uruguay against U.S. govt & in support of Venezuela. fmr president Mujica there #ObamaDerogaElDecretoYa” tweeted David Ferreira, accompanied by colorful photos of a solidarity march in Uruguay.
Venezuelan authorities are hoping to collect 10 million signatures for the petition before the Organization of American States (OAS) Summit of the Americas, which is due to be held in April in Panama. It has stated that it will use the event to present the signatures to OAS member states, as well as to Barack Obama who is expected to personally attend.
April´s summit is set to follow on from an “extraordinary” meeting held by the organization last week, specifically aimed at addressing the impasse between Caracas and Washington. Several governments from across the continent used the latest OAS meeting to add their voices to the chorus of criticism which has emerged from the region over the past week.
“We have been clear in both UNASUR and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). We reject unilateral sanctions, we think that sanctions from one country against another achieve nothing,” stated Colombian Foreign Minister, María Ángela Holguín, according to Colombian news site, Caracol.
Both Mexico and Brazil´s representatives also followed suit in their emphasizing the need to create conditions for “respectful” dialogue.
Although Washington has yet to officially respond to the campaign, U.S. delegate to the OAS meeting, Michael J. Fitzpatrick, stated that the Executive Order had been “taken out of context.”