Letter to President Trump Regarding Venezuela

February 6, 2019

Donald J. Trump, President
United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27, NRSV).

Dear Mr. President:

Greetings from Global Ministries, a common witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and the United Church of Christ.

Global Ministries has been engaged in a relationship of solidarity and accompaniment with the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela for more than 60 years. As such, we have walked alongside Venezuelans throughout various moments in the history of that nation. We watched with deep concern the recent news regarding intervention in Venezuela, including the military alternative, there.

As we already stated on a recent communication to you, we are deeply convinced that any US military intervention in Venezuela, or along its border with Colombia, would exacerbate the current crisis. It could bring back the darkest pages in the history of the country when the military overthrew civil governments to install dictatorships and de facto presidencies. Every time Venezuela, or any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean, has suffered a military episode in its recent times, the lives of the poorest and the most vulnerable populations have been severely damaged.

As church leaders who walk alongside marginalized communities, we strongly urge you to refrain from any military or one-sided intervention and to support ongoing alternatives that could affirm the well-being and the right for self-determination of the people in Venezuela. The governments of Mexico and Uruguay just launched a proposal for dialogue between the parties in dispute. This new initiative by Uruguay and Mexico has the objective to restart a dialogue between the parties in dispute there, to avoid any escalation on the political standoff in Venezuela. As a representative of those countries expressed recently, “a new dialogue mechanism is needed to contribute to peace and stability in Venezuela.” The media reports that both governments [Mexico and Uruguay] have adopted a non-interventionist position. For that reason, they have decided to call for inclusive dialogue to solve the delicate situation in Venezuela once and for all. More than ten countries and international bodies, including the United Nations, have already signed up. Other fellow international church and ecumenical bodies such as the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Latin American Alliance of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches and the Latin American Council of Churches, support the initiative. There will be an International Conference tomorrow in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, where those countries and several international organizations will be participating and affirming that initiative.

As people of God, we cherish the integrity of every human being and ask you to seriously commit to a peaceful solution to this situation. We pray that the U.S. will not direct or sponsor a military attack on Venezuela and will instead follow a path of respect, dialogue, and reconciliation with the Venezuelan government and its political opponents. We should be willing to respect and participate in the ongoing international effort to come into a diplomatic and political agreement. We also insist on canceling any unilateral economic sanctions on Venezuela, as that will not serve to any purpose other than to harm those who are already suffering the most. It will also negatively affect the political and social environment that is needed for a peaceful solution for this crisis in Venezuela.

May God guide you with wisdom and discernment both for the people of Venezuela and for all of God’s creation.

Sincerely,

                                                                                   

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Co-Executive, Global Ministries


Rev. Dr. James Moos
Associate General Minister
Global Engagement and Operations
United Church of Christ
Co-Executive, Global Ministries


Rev. Angel L. Rivera-Agosto
Area Executive
Latin America and the Caribbean Office
Global Ministries

 

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6 de febrero del 2019.

 

Donald J. Trump, Presidente
Estados Unidos de América
La Casa Blanca
1600 Avenida Pennsylvania NW
Washington, DC 20500

 

La paz os dejo, mi paz os doy; yo no os la doy como el mundo la da. No se turbe vuestro corazón ni tenga miedo (Juan 14:27, Versión Reina Valera 1995).

Estimado señor Presidente:

Saludos de parte de los Ministerios Globales, un testimonio común de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en los Estados Unidos y Canadá y la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en los Estados Unidos.

Ministerios Globales se ha involucrado en una relación de solidaridad y acompañamiento con la Unión Evangélica Pentecostal de Venezuela por más de 60 años.  Como tal, hemos caminado al lado del pueblo venezolano a través de numerosos momentos en la historia de esa nación.   Hemos atestiguado con profunda preocupación las recientes noticias relacionadas con la intromisión de nuestro país en los asuntos de Venezuela, incluida la alternativa militar entre ellas.

Ya le hemos comunicado anteriormente a usted que estamos decididamente convencidos de que cualquier intervención militar desde los Estados Unidos en Venezuela, ó a través de la frontera con Colombia, exacerbará la crisis actual.  Esto muy bien puede colocar al país en el umbral de los días más siniestros de su historia cuando los regímenes militares derrocaron gobiernos civiles para instaurar dictaduras y presidencias de facto.   Cada vez que Venezuela, o cualquier otro país en América Latina y el Caribe, ha sufrido un episodio de invasion militar en tiempos recientes, la población más pobre y vulnerable ha sido la más dañada por ello.    

Como líderes de Iglesias que hemos caminado al lado de comunidades marginadas, le conminamos firmemente a abstenerse de ordenar cualquier incursión militar o intervención unilateral en Venezuela, y que apoye alternativas que afirmen el bienestar así como la autodeterminación del pueblo venezolano.  Los gobiernos de México y Uruguay han sometido una propuesta para el diálogo entre las partes en controversia.  Esta nueva iniciativa tiene el objetivo de relanzar un diálogo entre las partes en disputa, de manera que se evite cualquier desarrollo indeseable en el enfrentamiento político en Venezuela.  Así como lo expresa un representante de esos países, “se necesita un nuevo mecanismo de diálogo para contribuir a la paz y a la estabilidad de Venezuela”.  Los medios de comunicación han informado que ambos gobiernos [Mexico y Uruguay] han adoptado una posición no-intervencionista.  Por tal razón, han decidido llamar a un diálogo inclusivo para resolver la situación delicada en Venezuela de una vez por todas.  Más de diez países así como organismos internacionales, incluyendo a las Naciones Unidas, ya han dado su aval a esta propuesta.  Otras organizaciones ecuménicas y de iglesias, tales como la Comunión Mundial de Iglesias Reformadas, la Alianza de Iglesias Presbiterianas y Reformadas de América Latina y el Consejo Latinaomericano de Iglesias apoyan dicha iniciativa.  

Como pueblo de Dios, apreciamos la integridad de cada ser humano y le invitamos a comprometerse seriamente con una solución pacífica a esta situación.  Oramos para que los Estados Unidos no dirija o promueva ningún ataque militar a Venezuela y que, en cambio, transite un camino de respeto, diálogo y reconciliación con el gobierno de Venezuela y sus opositores políticos.  Debemos estar dispuestos a respetar y a participar en el esfuerzo internacional que se desarrolla en ruta a un acuerdo político y diplomático.  También insistimos en que se cancele cualquier sanción económica unilateral en contra de Venezuela, habida cuenta de que ello no sirve a ningún otro propósito que el de vulnerar a aquellos que ya, de por sí, están sufriendo en extremo.  Esto también afecta negativamente al ambiente político y social necesario para una solución pacífica de esta crisis en Venezuela.

Que Dios le guíe con sabiduría y discernimiento, a nombre del pueblo de Venezuela y de toda la Creación de Dios.

Cordialmente,

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Co-Executive, Global Ministries


Rev. Dr. James Moos
Associate General Minister
Global Engagement and Operations
United Church of Christ
Co-Executive, Global Ministries


Rev. Angel L. Rivera-Agosto
Area Executive
Latin America and the Caribbean Office
Global Ministries

 

 


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  • Joyce Previte
    commented 2019-02-22 12:40:52 -0500
    Two dead after Venezuelan soldiers open fire on opposition supporters
    Brazilian soldiers pile humanitarian aid after unloading it from Brazilian Air Force plane, at Ala 7 air base in Boa Vista, Roraima state, Brazil in the border with Venezuela, on February 22, 2019. (Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
    By Anthony Faiola ,
    Rachelle Krygier and
    Mariana Zuñiga
    February 22 at 11:45 AM
    SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela — Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians attempting to keep open a segment of the southern border with Brazil for deliveries of humanitarian aid, causing multiple injuries and the first fatalities of a massive opposition operation meant to deliver international relief to this devastated South American country, according to eyewitnesses and community leaders.
    At 6:30 a.m. on Friday, a military convoy approached a checkpoint set up by an indigenous community in the southern village of Kumarakapay, on the main artery linking Venezuela to Brazil. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil.
    When the volunteers sought to block the military vehicles by standing in front of them, soldiers began firing assault rifles. At least two people were killed and a dozen wounded, at least three of them seriously. The dead were named as a woman, Zorayda Rodriguez, 42, and a man, Rolando Garcia.ez still looms large over his nation and its people
    Across Caracas Venezuelans grapple with an uncertain future. Some long for the days of Hugo Chávez, while others call for definitive change. (Video: Jon Gerberg/Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
    The Trump administration, which opposes Maduro, promptly denounced the shooting. “The United States condemns the killings, attacks, and the hundreds of arbitrary detentions that have taken place in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesman said. “We stand with the victims’ families in demanding justice and accountability.” (Vice President Pence, who is one of the administration’s most forceful Maduro critics, is scheduled to be in Colombia on Monday for a scheduled meeting of the Lima Group — a consortium of Latin American countries, plus Canada, that have called for Maduro’s ouster.)
    In tweets, opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who was en route to the Colombian border — said: “In the community of Kumarakapay, 2 soldiers shot against Pemones that were at a checkpoint. The result of this crime is 12 people wounded and one dead. Our solidarity is with them. It will not go unpunished.”
    In a separate tweet, he added, “To soldiers: between today and tomorrow you will define how to be remembered. We know you are with the people, you have made it clear to us. Tomorrow you can demonstrate it.”

    People react at the border between Venezuela and Brazil in Pacaraima, Roraima state, Brazil, February 22, 2019. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)
    At least 30 neighbors took to the streets following the shootings, kidnapping three soldiers, according to Carmen Elena Silva, 48, who had joined the roadblock, and George Bello, a spokesman for the indigenous community.
    “The majority of the people support the entrance of humanitarian aid, and we want to keep our border open,” Silva said. “This is help, not war. . . . Every day more children die.”
    Jorge Perez, a local councilman in Gran Sabana, the district in which the town is located, said he was present when the soldiers opened fire. “I ask the armed forces, is it constitutional for them to fire against unarmed indigenous people?” he said. “Is it constitutional to kill indigenous people?”
    A spokesmen for Venezuela’s Communications Ministry said it could not yet comment on the incident.
    [Venezuela braces for possible conflict ahead of opposition’s push to deliver humanitarian aid]

    A small group of supporters of the opposition and Juan Guaido shout their support from the back of a truck in San Cristobal, Venezuela on February 21, 2019. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
    The activists belonged to the Pemones indigenous tribe that has joined the opposition effort to haul in aid donated by the United States and other countries from bordering nations on Saturday. The aid is coming from nations — including the United States — that have demanded that Maduro step down. His government has ordered a full blockade of the aid and dispatched the military to reinforce Venezuela’s borders.
    The incident appeared to be the most violent confrontation yet in a still-unfolding operation in which thousands of volunteers are seeking to reach bordering nations to haul in the aid. Opposition leaders feared more clashes on Saturday, when volunteers plan to bring aid over the border.
    Tensions between the military and the indigenous Pemones involved in the fatal exchange have been rising for years over the fast spread of illegal gold mining on their traditional lands. Opposition leaders convening in San Cristobal, the largest Venezuelan metropolis near the Colombian border, denounced the use of excessive force.
    “We have to condemn what happened today,” said Maria Gabriela Chávez, a coordinator for environmental issues in the National Assembly, the opposition-controlled legislature that Maduro stripped of its powers in 2017. “In the new Venezuela that is coming, we will assume this pain and experience as a lesson.”
    In this city of nearly 300,000, opposition lawmakers outlined plans for an operation Saturday meant to receive aid shipments that have piled up in Cucuta, a Colombian border city.

    A group of opposition politicians meet in what they called a “National Assembly meeting,” at a hotel conference room in San Cristobal, Venezuela on February 22, 2019. The lawmakers met to discuss the plan to get aid across the border from Colombia on February 23, 2019. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
    Franklin Duarte, an opposition official, announced four points of departure starting at 3 a.m. He said volunteers would be bused to the four international bridges that connect bordering cities to Cucuta, to help the aid come in. Those volunteers who are planning to stay in San Cristobal, he said, would march toward the city’s military barracks holding flags.
    “Unlike protests in the past, this time the people will stay in the street until containers of humanitarian aid come in,” he said.
    “Tomorrow will mark the before and after for Venezuelans fighting to get back their democracy,” said Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the National Assembly.
    The governor of the state of Tachira, Laidy Gomez, called on both sides to avoid violence.
    “To violence, we have to respond with peace, and to tell the violent that we, the good ones, are better than that, that we do not want a war.”
    The Maduro government, however, was reinforcing its efforts to stop the aid from coming in. In a statement, Colombian authorities said that shipping containers — overturned by the government earlier this month to block the Tienditas bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia — were welded in place overnight.
    “Last night, while Cúcuta and the world were preparing to raise their voices in unison for the Freedom of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship welded the containers to the structure of the Unity Bridge, as if it were a metaphor for the dictator clinging to power,” Colombian migration authorities said in a statement.