Caracas, April 10th 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) Thousands of Venezuelans marched to the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on Thursday to officially hand over the 10 million signatures collected by activists demanding that the Obama administration repeal the Executive Order which brands Venezuela an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. “national security”.
The anti-imperialist petition, launched following the release of the U.S. decree on March 9th, has seen makeshift stalls set up across the country where activists have been collecting signatures from the general public against the order, which was accompanied by a third round of individual sanctions levied at selected Venezuelan officials.
The petition has managed to gain the support of more than 10 million Venezuelans, representing over a third of the country’s entire population. The signatures have now been audited and verified by Venezuela’s National Electoral Committee (CNE) which has confirmed that the petition has a 1.3% margin of error.
Waiting at the Miraflores Palace to receive the signatures was Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales. Maduro stated that the petition was proof that the “the history of the people of Simon Bolivar has been evoked, and it remains awake and alert”. He had previously confirmed that the signatures would be kept as an “historical archive” in the national Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“I receive this mandate… and as the son of the people and as the son of Chavez, I will know how to defend our beloved Venezuela’s right to peace, independence and the future. I will take you once more to the victory of peace, which will be our victory,” said the Venezuelan head of state.
President Morales, who was visiting Venezuela in support if its #ObamaRepealTheExecutiveOrder campaign, also signed the petition before addressing the crowd.
“Venezuela is not alone. Firstly UNASUR is supporting Venezuela, we are all asking for this decree to be repealed… The non-aligned countries, practically the whole world is with the Venezuelan people,” said Morales.
“If Obama doesn’t arrive at the Summit of the Americas with the decree already repealed, then we presidents will make him repeal it in Panama,” he added, referring to the upcoming 7th Summit of the Americas due to get underway this weekend in the Central American country.
Late this Friday evening, Venezuela President Maduro touched down on Panamanian soil to participate in the regional event. Shortly following his arrival, the president was presented with a further two thousand signatures for the petition which had been collected by the youth of Panama.
The head of state is expected to present the petition to the summit over the weekend, which will also be attended by U.S. President, Barack Obama.
Despite the heavy language used in his presidential decree, Obama was forced to back down earlier on Thursday this week, admitting that his government does not actually consider Venezuela to be a national security threat in an interview with EFE. Nonetheless, in the same interview the president declared that the region could “not remain silent’ about the “situation” in Venezuela.
Obama's isolation in the face of a region-wide backlash against his decree and accompanying sanctions has led observers to predict that a difficult summit might await the U.S. president.
This weekend will be the first time that all 35 presidents from the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean have been in attendance at the OAS summit, with Cuba officially participating for the very first time.
The Caribbean nation has been vocally supportive of Venezuela in the face of recent U.S. attacks, and collected over 3 million 39 thousand signatures from amongst its citizens in solidarity with the South American country.
“We must say today that the Cuban Revolution and the Venezuelan revolution are more united than ever, more united under one strategy, with one vision. Comrade Raul, Comandante Fidel, you have given us the most beautiful gesture that we have ever received. Thank you Cuba, thank you Fidel, thank you Raul,” said Maduro.
The Cuban and other international contributions bring the total of signatures collected to date to a tentative 13 million 447 thousand. Venezuelans will have until April 30th to sign the petition, confirmed Maduro.