The response of 68 public figures who oppose Joe Biden lifting sanctions against Venezuela

Antonio José Ledezma published a letter in which he emphasizes that “the misfortunes that are experienced predate” the measures of the United States

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Antonio José Ledezma Díaz gives no respite to the Venezuelan regime and in response to the letter that 25 people addressed to the US President, Joseph Robinette Biden, requesting to ease economic sanctions, he published a letter with 68 signatures, in which he emphasizes that “the misfortunes experienced in Venezuela predate the sanctions imposed, so relaxing the pressure on tyranny, the only thing that guarantees is the perpetuation of it together with those who for years, have pretended to oppose, who will settle for the crumbs that tyrants offer for their political survival”.

The concern that the 68 signatories make of the US president as an “imperative obligation” is based on “the risks that US institutions will end up fixing one of the most criminal regimes that human history has ever known: Venezuelan tyranny, entrenched for 23 years in the Western Hemisphere, in collusion with the Russian, Cuban, Iranian axis and colluded with drug cartels and drug guerrilla groups”.

Las protestas desde el 2014 dejaron cerca de 300 manifestantes muertos en Venezuela
Las protestas desde el 2014 dejaron cerca de 300 manifestantes muertos en Venezuela
Hugo Chávez, con el silbido de un pito, despidió a 20 empleados de Pdvsa, en el año 2002
Hugo Chávez, con el silbido de un pito, despidió a 20 empleados de Pdvsa, en el año 2002

In response to those who called for easing sanctions, Ledezma warns that “temporary needs of certain factors are intended to make US institutions cover up the cold-blooded murder of hundreds of citizens, who took to the streets solely to demand freedom and, to demand the imprisonment without trial of more than 300 Venezuelans”.

The plea to Joe Biden is emphatic: “Do not allow the world's human rights champion country to become an accomplice to these crimes, for there will be no effective narrative or enough paid propaganda to hide this reality. Far from giving in to pressure, we encourage you not to succumb to it.”

This is how he explains that sanctions “are a more relevant and current mechanism in the world today”, setting as an example that the most dissimilar governments and institutions have united “to severely sanction the genocide committed by Vladimir Putin against the Ukrainian people, and as thanks to those sanctions applied to the regime madurista limited its financing capacity, preventing the execution of its expansionist plans.”

Parte de los 68 firmantes
Parte de los 68 firmantes

Failed state

The 68 signatories emphasize that “in Venezuela, unlike what happens in the United States, where everyone is subject to the rule of law, as in nations that maintain monarchical regimes, where the real king is the law, we do not depend on laws, nor on the rule of law, but on the capricious mood of tyrants Hugo Chavez and now Nicolás Maduro”.

They risk ensuring, without hesitation, that “we are no longer a rule of law, but a narco-state, therefore, failed and outlawed at the same time. The crisis is because there is no legal certainty, there is no separation of powers, but there is a blatant impunity that guarantees mafias that steal, traffic and murder continue to commit lawlessness. The urgent 'sanction' to lift the Venezuelan people is the one represented by Maduro and his partners in power.”

They answer questions such as: What do sanctions have to do with the oil crisis? , asking not to forget who initiated the destruction of the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which was one of the most prestigious transnational corporations in the world. Hugo Chávez “fired more than 22,000 PDVSA workers and technicians, disrupted the Merchant Marine, liquidated our refineries within the country and those we owned in Sweden, England, Germany, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. He has given away large shipments of crude oil to his partners in the Sao Paulo Forum. That's why there's not enough gasoline.”

Protesta de docentes en Caracas (EFE/Miguel Gutiérrez/Archivo)
Protesta de docentes en Caracas (EFE/Miguel Gutiérrez/Archivo)

One of the key questions is whether the import of food and medicine is not allowed due to sanctions. “Another big lie. Producers and businessmen who resist are subjected to an environment full of uncertainties, are victims of that treacherous competition that the regime facilitates by turning the country into a free port or free zone, without defined trade and fiscal policies.”

“The truth is that Chavez arbitrarily imposed, in 2000, a Land Law that led to all kinds of assaults and expropriations of agricultural complexes, invaded millions of hectares, dairy complexes, slaughterhouses, poultry, swine and efficient service companies such as Agroisleña. Imports of food or medicine have never been banned.”

La caja de alimentos CLAP significaron un gran negocio para Álex Saab y un grupo de empresarios
La caja de alimentos CLAP significaron un gran negocio para Álex Saab y un grupo de empresariosHANDOUT

They assert that “the anachronistic policies of price control and exchange control liquidated the country's productive apparatus. The fall in GDP has been brutal, equivalent to more than 75%, current inflation exceeds 600%, wages remain poor, poverty affects more than 94% of the population, while more than 7 million Venezuelans are now banished due to the effects of the complex humanitarian tragedy that persists, not because of sanctions, but because of robberies of money destined to improve the electricity system, hospitals, aqueducts, communication routes, schools and universities”.

They remind Biden that “serious institutions in the United States prosecute fraudsters who became rich by food imports, operations carried out with overbillings and surcharges, in addition to the fact that they were goods, in many cases decomposed. The robbery has been huge, it is assured that it exceeds 600 billion dollars.”

Los 68 firmantes piden mantener las recompensas
Los 68 firmantes piden mantener las recompensas

¿Qué Solicitan?

The signatories of Ledezma's letter have nine requests that they make to US President Joe Biden: the first is that “personalised sanctions against predators of public goods and those responsible for crimes against humanity in Venezuela be maintained and deepened, more so now when, the European Union with you are pushing them against Vladimir Putin's massacre of the Ukrainian people.”

Maintain the anti-narcotics siege. Maintain the rewards for capturing drug lords who usurp public powers in Venezuela. That prosecutions of those extradited, responsible for unusual scams such as Alex Saab, continue. That support be provided for the investigative phase initiated by the International Criminal Court. Demand the release of civilian and military political prisoners”.

And the last three petitions: “Maintain and expand safeguards for Venezuelan assets such as real estate, gold, financial capital and companies like Citgo. Investigate those involved in illegal bondholder schemes based on Leonine guidelines. To firmly create, with the assistance of the international community committed to democratic principles and values, a credible threat for the regime to evict the institutions they usurp, a fact that does not make it possible to think of holding genuinely free elections in Venezuela”, they conclude by saying.

Antonio Ledezma y Joe Biden
Antonio Ledezma y Joe Biden

The letter, led by Ledezma former Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma, is signed by political leader María Corina Machado; former foreign ministers and diplomats, such as Diego Arria (UN), Humberto Calderón Berti and Gustavo Tarre Briceño (OAS); lawyers and/or human rights defenders, including Tamara Sujú Institute (Casla), Adriana Vigilanza, Paciano Padrón (president of the International Committee Against Impunity Ciciven), Luis Corona, Omar Estacio and Zaid Mundarain Rodríguez; union and oil leaders: Carlos Ortega (CTV), Iván Freites (oil tanker), Emilio Negrín (Trade Union Coalition) and Jean Pierre Chovet, Juan Fernández, Liliana Ponce Garcia and George Kamkoff (former PDVSA) and José Méndez (oil expert); former ministers: Carlos Blanco and Virginia Olivo de Celli.

Also, the deputies and/or former parliamentarians: José Rodríguez Iturbe, Richard Blanco, José Luis Pirela, Edwin Luzardo, Rosmit Mantilla, Juan Pablo Garcia, Ismael Garcia, Renzo Prieto, Sonia Andreina Medina, Elias Besi and Juan Carlos Bolivar. Teachers and/or academics: José Vicente Carrasquero, Omar Noria, Carlos Ñáñez, Pancho Crespo Quintero, Carlos Enrique Nunez, Neuro Villalobos (Ex-rector LUZ), Vladimir Petit and Ivan Ramos. Political prisoners: Vasco Da Costa and Marcelo Crobato. Student leaders: Nixon Moreno and Vilca Fernández. Former governors: Enrique Salas Römer and Orlando Gutierrez.

With them: Enrique Aristeguieta Gramnko Patriotic Board Member, Miguel E Otero, Blanca Rosa Mármol (former Supreme Court Justice), Rafael Ortega Magistrate (TSJ Exilio), journalist Nitu Pérez Osuna, priest José Palmar, Jaime Nestarez (RCR Director), businessman Alfredo Tineo, internationalist Leopoldo Thaylardat, environmentalist Luis Augusto Colcologist Menares. Associations and civil society: Luis Manuel Aguana (Constituent Project), Sady Bigani (former mayors association president), William Cárdenas (President of Lifeguard Association), Luis Balo (Táchira), Ivan Barboza (Zulia) and Ricardo Ojeda (Civil Resistance), Genaro Mosquera, José Rafael Herrera, Marisol Angarita, Carlos Alfredo Jaimes Garcia, Abdul Saab and Cesar Donmar.