Noam Chomsky and Danny Glover Condemn U.S. and Canada Over Venezuela Sanctions

Chomsky and Glover are among 154 signatories asking the U.S. and Canada to reconsider the sanctions.

Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

After the U.S. and Canada imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s socialist government Friday, Noam Chomsky and Danny Glover joined 154 signatories in an open letter to Washington and Ottawa condemning the sanctions. 

The letter explains that the sanctions will worsen political tensions and make life harder for Venezuela’s poor and urges the governments to reconsider.

 “Sanctions merely complicate efforts by the Vatican, Dominican Republic, and other international actors to mediate a resolution to the deep polarization in Venezuela,” the letter states. 

While the letter points to an attempt by the U.S. and Canada to topple Venezuela’s leadership, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has said he believes the sanctions are part of an international right-wing conspiracy intended to remove him and take control of the OPEC nation’s oil wealth, as Reuters reports

The complete text of the open letter is below:

Open Letter in Support of Mediation Not Sanctions in Venezuela

We urge the United States and Canadian governments to immediately remove their illegal* sanctions against Venezuela and to support efforts at mediation between the government of Venezuela and the nonviolent segments of the political opposition.

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals in the U.S. and Canada, support hemispheric relations based on respect for the sovereignty of all peoples of the Americas. We are deeply concerned by the use of illegal sanctions, whose effect falls most heavily on the poorest and most marginal sectors of society, to coerce political and economic change in a sister democracy.

Polls in Venezuela show that the large majority of Venezuelans oppose sanctions, regardless of their opinion of the Maduro government. Sanctions merely complicate efforts by the Vatican, Dominican Republic, and other international actors to mediate a resolution to the deep polarization in Venezuela. Moreover, sanctions undermine efforts of the democratically elected government and Constituent Assembly to address critical economic issues and determine their own political destiny.

Despite the high-minded rhetoric of officials in Washington and Ottawa, it is not a genuine concern for democracy, human rights, and social justice that drives the belligerent interventionist posture towards Caracas. From former U.S. president Obama’s admittedly untrue presidential decree that Venezuela represents a national security threat to the United States, to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s declaration that Venezuela is "an increasingly violent narco-state" that threatens the world, the use of hyperbole in diplomatic situations seldom contributes to peaceful solutions on the world stage.

It is no secret that Venezuela, unlike Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, is targeted for regime change by the U.S. precisely because of Venezuela’s leadership in resisting U.S. hegemony and the imposition of the neoliberal model in Latin America. And of course, Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world, attracting more unwanted attention from Washington.

The U.S. and Canada tried and failed to use the Organization of American States (OAS) to build a bloc to hypocritically evoke the Democratic Charter against Venezuela. Recently, Luis Almagro, the rogue Secretary General of the OAS, went so far as to publicly support the swearing in of a parallel Supreme Court unconstitutionally appointed by opposition legislators and allowed them to use the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. for their ceremony -- without the approval of any OAS member state. Almagro has thereby delegitimized the OAS, emboldened the most extreme and violent elements of the Venezuelan opposition, and side-lined efforts at mediation.

The U.S.-Canadian sanctions represent a cynical use of coercive economic power to attack a nation that is already dealing with hyperinflation and shortages of basic commodities. While said to be in the name of advancing democracy and freedom, the sanctions violate the Venezuelan peoples' basic human right to sovereignty, as outlined in the UN and OAS Charters.

We call on the political leaders of the United States and Canada to reject overheated rhetoric and to contribute to the search for real solutions to Venezuela’s political and economic problems. We urge the U.S. and Canadian governments to rescind their sanctions and support the mediation efforts pursued by the Chancellor of the Dominican Republic Miguel Vargas, the President of Dominican Republic Danilo Medina, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Vatican, and supported by a growing number of Latin American nations.

* Chapter 4 Article 19 of the OAS Charter states:

No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.


United States

Noam Chomsky

Danny Glover, Citizen-Artist

Estela Vazquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU

Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit

Jill Stein, Green Party

Peter Knowlton, General President, United Electrical Workers

Dr. Frederick B. Mills, Department of Philosophy, Bowie State University

Dr. Alfred de Zayas, former Chief, Petitions Dept, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Medea Benjamin, co-founder, Code Pink

Dan Kovalik, Counsel, United Steelworkers Union

Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local10 (retired)

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, President, National Lawyers Guild

Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice

James Early, Articulation of Afro Descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean

Gloria La Riva, coordinator, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee

Karen Bernal, Chair, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party

Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, co-directors, Popular Resistance

Chris Bender, Administrator, SEIU 1000, retired

Mary Hanson Harrison, President Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section

Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council

Tamie Dramer, Executive Boardmember, California Democratic Party

Greg Wilpert, journalist

School of Americas Watch (SOAW) Coordinating Collective

Gerry Condon, President, Board of Directors, Veterans for Peace

Tiana Ocasio, President, Connecticut Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Leah Bolger, Coordinator, World Beyond War

Alexander Main, Senior Assoc for Intl Policy, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

Dr. Robert W. McChesney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Berthony Dupont, Director, Haiti Liberté Newspaper

Marsha Rummel, Adlerperson, City of Madison Common Council, District 6

Monica Moorehead, Workers World Party

Kim Ives, Journalist, Haiti Liberté

Cindy Sheehan, Cindy's Soapbox

Claudia Lucero, Executive Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

William Camacaro, Venezuela activist

Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace

David W. Campbell, Secretary-Treasurer, USW Local 675   (Carson, CA)

Alice Bush, retired Northwest Indiana Division Director SEIU Local 73

Teresa Gutierrez, Co-Director International Action Center

Claire Deroche, NY Interfaith Campaign Against Torture

Eva Golinger, journalist and writer

The Cross Border Network (Kansas City)

Antonia Domingo, Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War

Matt Meyer, National Co-chair, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Rev. Daniel Dale, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), CLRN Board of Directors

Daniel Chavez, Transnational Institute

Kathleen Desautels, SP (8th Day Center for Justice*)

Michael Eisenscher, National Coord. Emeritus, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

Dr. Paul Dordal, Director, Christian Network for Liberation and Equality

Dr. Douglas Friedman, Director International Studies, College of Charleston

Fr. Charles Dahm, Archdiocesan Director of Domestic Violence Outreach

Blase Bonpane,  Director, Office of the Americas

Larry Birns, Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Task Force on the Americas

Dr. Sharat G. Lin, former president, San Jose Peace and Justice Center

Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity

Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator, International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity

National Network on Cuba

Diana Bohn, Co-coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action

Joe Jamison, Queens NY Peace Council

Jerry Harris, National Secretary, Global Studies Association of North America

MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

Charlie Hardy, author, Cowboy in Caracas

Dan Shea, National Board, Veterans For Peace

Houston Peace and Justice Center

Dr. Christy Thornton, Fellow, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

Code Pink Houston

Workers Solidarity Action

Rochester Committee on Latin America

Patricio Zamorano, Academic and International Affairs Analyst

Cliff Smith, business manager, Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, Local 36

Michael Bass, Convener, School of the Americas Watch-Oakland/East Bay

Joe Lombardo, Marilyn Levin, Co-Coordinators of United National Antiwar Committee

Dr. Jeb Sprague-Silgado, University of California Santa Barbara

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)

Dr. Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer Chair in Indigenous Governance Ryerson University

Lee Gloster, Steward IBT 364, Trustee, N. Central IN Labor Chapter, N. IN Area Labor Federation

Celeste Howard, Secretary, WILPF, Portland Branch (Oregon)

Mario Galván, Sacramento Action for Latin America

Hector Gerardo, Executive Director, 1 Freedom for All

Jorge Marin, Venezuela Solidarity Committee

Ricardo Vaz, writer and editor of Investig'Action

Dr. T.M. Scruggs, University of Iowa, Professor Emeritus

Dr. Mike Davis, Dept. of Creative Writing, Univ. of CA, Riverside; editor of the New Left Review

Dr. Lee Artz, Dept of Media Studies; Director, Center for Global Studies, Purdue University Northwest

Dr. Arturo Escobar, Dept. of Anthropology University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Cheri Honkala, Director, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign

Suren Moodliar, Coordinator, Encuentro5 (Boston)

Dr. Jack Rasmus, Economics Dept., St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California

Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Rich Whitney, Co-chair, Green Party Peace Action Committee

David Bacon, independent photojournalist

Dr. Kim Scipes, Department of Sociology, Purdue University Northwest

Jeff Mackler, National Secretary, Socialist Action

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Henry Lowendorf,  Co-chair, Greater New Haven Peace Council

Judith Bello, Ed Kinane (founders), Upstate Drone Action

Dr. Daniel Whitesell, Lecturer in the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese, UCLA

Dr. William I. Robinson, Sociology and Global and International Studies, UC-Santa Barbara

Emmanuel Rozental, Vilma Almendra, Pueblos en Camino, Abya Yala

Ben Manski, President, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution

Frank Pratka, Baltimore-Matanzas Association/Maryland-Cuba Friendship Coalition

Dr. Hilbourne Watson, Emeritus, Department of International Relations, Bucknell University

Dr. Minqi Li, Economics Department, University of Utah

Christina Schiavoni, PhD researcher, Boston

Dr. Robert E. Birt, Department of Philosophy, Bowie State University

Topanga Peace Alliance

Judy Somberg, Susan Scott, Esq., Co-chairs, National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas

Audrey Bomse, Esq., Co-chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee

Daniel Chavez, Transnational Institute

Barby Ulmer, Board President, Our Developing World

Barbara Larcom, Coordinator, Casa Baltimore/Limay; President, Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance

Nick Egnatz, Veterans for Peace

Dr. Marc Becker, Latin American Studies, Truman State University

Dr. John H. Sinnigen, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Dr. Dale Johnson, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Rutgers University

Sulutasen Amador, Co-coordinator, Chukson Water Protectors

Mara Cohen, Communications Hub, Trade Justice Alliance

Dorotea Manuela, Co-Chair Rosa Parks Human Right Committee

Efia Nwangaza, Malcom X Center - WMXP Community Radio

Dr. Chris Chase-Dunn, Sociology, University of California-Riverside

Dr. Nick Nesbitt, Comparative Literature, Princeton

Timeka Drew, coordinator, Global Climate Convergence

Jack Gilroy, Friends of Franz & Ben

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Social Justice Committee

Victor Wallis, Professor, Liberal Arts, Berkeley College of Music


Jerry Dias, President, UNIFOR

Mike Palecek, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Harvey Bischof, President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation

Mark Hancock National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees

Robyn Benson, National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Stephanie Smith, President of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union

Dr. Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer Chair in Indigenous Governance Ryerson University

Linda McQuaig, journalist and author, Toronto

Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers

Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress

Rights Action (U.S. and Canada)

Joe Emersberger, writer, UNIFOR member

Heide Trampus, Coordinator, Worker to Worker, Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Network

Nino Pagliccia, Jorge Arancibia, Marta Palominos, Frente para la Defensa de los Pueblos Hugo Chavez

Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – Vancouver

The Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC)

Maude Barlow, Chairperson, Council of Canadians

Canadian Network on Cuba

Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) – Vancouver

Dr. William Carroll, University of Victoria, Canada

Andrew Dekany, LL.M, Lawyer

Dr. Leo Panitch, Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto

Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)

Alma Weinstein,  Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel Toronto

Maria Elena Mesa, Coord, Sunday Poetry and Festival Internacional de Poesia Patria Grande, Toronto

Dr. Radhika Desai, University of Manitoba


Sergio Romero Cuevas, former Mexican Ambassador to Haiti

Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos, Oaxaca, Mexico



April M. Short is a freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness and social justice. She previously worked as AlterNet's drugs and health editor. 

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