The purpose of this letter is to persuade the Government of Canada and all the Members of Parliament to reverse its counterproductive policy towards Venezuela, on the grounds that it contravenes international laws, is unethical, undemocratic and is against the interests of the vast majority of Venezuelans.

The Canadian Government prides itself in its respect for the rule of law. It is therefore disturbing that this has not included the respect for international law, which is the only thing capable of preventing war among nations, any erosion of which is a threat against peace.

Canada has become leader of the ad-hoc Lima Group, a group that only came together after the OAS failed to achieve the majority vote necessary to support overthrowing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro whose legitimate government is recognized by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, all the Non-aligned Countries, all Caribbean States under CARICOM, New Zealand, the African Union, Russia, China, and India. Innumerable social organizations and unions throughout the world support the legitimate government of President Maduro including the Canadian Labour Congress and CUPE. 

This Lima Group declared its support for an individual who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela in a public plaza, without the benefit of any presidential election and in violation of the Constitution and electoral laws of Venezuela.

Canada has abandoned its long standing policy of “constructive engagement” and adhered itself to the United States’ economic sanctions against Venezuela, sanctions imposed with the explicit declared purpose of bringing about regime change in Venezuela, and were accompanied by the statement that “the United States will continue to take concrete and forceful action”. These sanctions were not imposed by the UN Security Council and therefore violate international law. The sanctions also violate the U.N.’s Charter, the OAS Charter and resolutions of the International Court of Justice.

The UN Charter in its Article 2 states:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

The UN Charter rests on the philosophy of multilateralism, a commitment to international cooperation and the sovereign equality of States. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states have been reaffirmed in the UN General Assembly notably in Resolutions 2625 (XXV) and 3314 (XXIX).

This principle is invoked by a recent report of the judicial experts body of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of the German parliament, by stating that there are “strong reasons” to affirm that the international recognition of Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó could amount to interference in the country’s internal affairs.

As well, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action Article 32 of the UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (adapted in 1974) stipulates that

No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political, or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights.”

On 23 March 2018, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela imposed by the USA (under Obama and Trump), Canada and the European Union.

The International Criminal Court in its Article 7 of the Rome Statute considers sanctions crimes against humanity. A recent UN Report of the Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Dr. A. De Zayas, has noted that the sanctions against Venezuela “are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy”, and recommended an investigation of the economic sanctions against Venezuela as crimes against humanity under Article 7, and

The OAS Charter in its Chapter 4, Article 19, 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.”

Further, the OAS Convention on the Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife (21 April 1972) resolves:

“To reiterate solemnly the need for the member states of the Organization to observe strictly the principles of non-intervention and self-determination of peoples as a means of ensuring peaceful coexistence among them…and… To reaffirm the obligation of those states to refrain from applying economic, political, or any other type of measures to coerce another state and obtain from it advantages of any kind.”

The USA, Canadian and EU sanctions against Venezuela, are illegal and immoral. They directly impact the civilian population to create suffering. Sanctions are felt most especially among the poorest sectors of the Venezuelan population by causing shortages of food and medicines. They are human rights violations aimed at coercing a sovereign democracy.

Venezuela held presidential elections according to its laws, on 20 May 2018, a date that had been agreed upon by an opposition that had been clamoring for elections to be called ahead of schedule. Six opposition candidates backed by 16 opposition parties took part in the elections. Three other opposition parties chose not to participate, by their own decision. The results were:

  • President Maduro: 6.3 million votes, 67%
  • Henry Falcón: 1.9 million votes, 20.9%
  • Javier Bertucci: 996,181 votes, 10.8 %

The losing candidates all accepted the validity of the election results.  150 independent international observers, including a credible and respectful Canadian delegation, all accepted the election process as clean and transparent.

We regret that Canada’s long tradition of balanced international diplomacy and its role in peacekeeping has been sullied by this aggressive, interventionist stance against a friendly country. Canada once could boast of an independent foreign policy, as when it withstood strong US pressure during the Cold War and refused to break relations with China and Cuba, and when it refused to join the USA military adventure to invade Vietnam and Iraq.

So it is with dismay that we see Canada joining the USA in this absurd recognition of an individual who, without the knowledge and support of the main Venezuelan political parties, without any public elections, claims to be president of Venezuela. If Canada hopes to be, and be seen as, a country that truly respects the rule of law, it must not collaborate with the USA neo-colonial war of conquest in Latin America to take possession of its natural resources – as the USA administration admits.

We ask the Canadian Government to withdraw from the Lima Group, to distance itself from the interventionist policy of the USA government, to rescind its illegal sanctions against Venezuela, and to repudiate any intervention by foreign countries in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

  1. Dr. Anna Zalik, Professor, Ph.D. Program Coordinator, York University
  2. Dr. William Leiss, Professor Emeritus
  3. Dr. Pamela Barnett
  4. Dr. Peter A. Victor, Professor Emeritus, York University
  5. Dr. David Suzuki, Geneticist, Author, Journalist
  6. Nino Pagliccia, Researcher, Author, University of British Columbia
  7. Dr. Pamela Mordecai, Humber School for Writers
  8. Dr. David Heap, Professor, Interfaculty Program in Linguistics & Dept. d’etudes francaises, University of Western Ontario
  9. Dr. Jorge Sorger, Professor Emeritus McMaster University
  10. Professor Julio Fonseca, Dept. of Languages & Linguistics, York University
  11. Professor Eduardo Canel, Dept. Social Sciences, York University
  12. Maria Páez Victor, MA, PhD. Sociologist, Author
  13. Professor Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies, St. Mary’s University, Halifax
  14. Professor Alissa Trotz, University of Toronto
  15. Fidel Peña, Underline Studio, Creative Director
  16. Dr. Atif Kubursi, Profesor Emeritus, McMaster University
  17. Professor Harry Smaller, Professor Emeritus, York University
  18. Dr. Lisa L. North, Professor Emeritus, York University
  19. Professor Jim Rochlin, Irvin K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences, University of British Columbia
  20. Professor Jorge Filmus, Senior Scientist, Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Toronto
  21. Professor Gary Leech, Cape Breton University
  22. Professor Terry Gibbs, Cape Breton University
  23. Dr. Kalowatie Deonandan, Professor, Dept. Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan
  24. Dr. Mark J. Goodman, Department of Sociology, York University
  25. Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Centre for Research on Globalization
  26. Professor Linda Peake, Director, the City Institute, York University
  27. Antonia Swann, Ph.D
  28. Dr. Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Helath Policy and Management, York University
  29. Simon Granovsky-Larsen, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Regina
  30. Professor Luin Golding, Sociology Department, York University
  31. Professor Greg Albo, York University
  32. Melvin Zimmerman, Senior Scholar, York University
  33. Professor Justin Podur, York University
  34. Dr. Keith Ellis, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
  35. Dr. Zilpha Ellis, Professor Emerita, York University
  36. Dr. Sonja Novkovic, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax
  37. Chris Walker, CIHR Fellow, PhD Candidate and Professor, Saitn Mary’s University, Halifax
  38. Professor Carles Muntaner MD PhD MHS, University of Toronto
  39. Carmen Victor, MA, PhD Candidate, York University& Ryerson University
  40. Dr Radhika Desai, Professor, University of Manitoba
  41. Alan Freeman, Research Affiliate, University of Manitoba
  42. Cody Lang, PhD Candidate, York University
  43. Tamara Lorencz, Ph.D. Student
  44. Kristin Schwartz, Graduate student, University of Toronto
  45. Wendy Goldsmith, Advocate & Councellor
  46. Terry Burrell, Lawyer
  47. Juan Carranza, Lawyer
  48. Macdonald Scott, Immigration Consultant
  49. Moira Gracey, Lawyer
  50. Cikiah Thomas, Chair, Global Afrikan Congress
  51. Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress
  52. Donald James Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  53. Wally Brooker, Musician, Journalist
  54. Carlos Angulo Rivas
  55. Ken Stone, Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, Author, Journalist, Activist
  56. David Tracy, Eco-urbanist
  57. Arnold August, Author & Journalist
  58. Keith Bolender, Author
  59. Asad Ismi, Author, Journalist
  60. Yves Engler, Author
  61. Alex Grant, Editor, Fightback Magazine
  62. Alfred Pérez, Psychologist
  63. Gwendolyn Schalman
  64. Alma Weinstein, Educator
  65. Jesus Silva, Radio Producer
  66. Beatriz Santiago, Educator
  67. Rose Marie Whalley
  68. Cym Gomery
  69. Ann Tudor, Author
  70. Edgar Godoy, Radio Producer
  71. Ruben Esguerra
  72. Eusebio García
  73. Alfredo Marroquín
  74. Matias de Dovitiis
  75. Stephen Gowans, Author
  76. Roberta Cory, Council of Canadian
  77. Omar Lati
  78. Elizabeth Hill, former Public School Trustee
  79. Honey Novick, Singer
  80. Stephany Kelly
  81. Alfredo Barahona
  82. José González, Musician
  83. Grahame Russell, Rights Action
  84. Raul Burbano
  85. Oscar Benavides
  86. Aziz Fall, President, CIRFA
  87. Donald James Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  88. Lisa Makarchukj
  89. Hugh Owens
  90. Alan D. Roberts
  91. Norman Richmond, Journalist, Radio Producer
  92. Patricia Landolt
  93. Tanya Chute Molina
  94. Marta Palomino
  95. Maria Francisca López
  96. Antonio Aceituno
  97. Fabian Esguerra, Musician, Poet, Educator
  98. Antonio García
  99. Esteban Molina
  100. Paula Marcotte, Educatod
  101. Faiz Ahmed, Trade Unionist
  102. Abdulhamid Mohamed
  103. Susan James
  104. Dr. Radhika Desai, Professor, University of Manitoba
  105. Alan Freeman, Research Affiliate, University of Manitoba
  106. Dr. Sabah Alnasseri, Associate Professor, York University
  107. Dr. Fernando De Toro, Professor, University of Manitoba
  108. Dr. William Carroll, Professor, University of Victoria, BVC
  109. Dr. Jayant Lele, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University
  110. Dr. Ingo Schmidt, Assistant Professor, Athabasca University
  111. Dr. Laurie Adkin, Associate Professor, University of Alberta
  112. Dr. Beverley Mullings, Professor, Queen’s University
  113. Dr. Frederick Kingdom, Professor, McGill University