April 5, 2020
Re: U.S. ARMED MOBILIZATION AND WARMONGERING IN LATIN AMERICA
Dear Secretary of State Pompeo and Honorable Members of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs:
On March 23, 2020, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged for an “immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” in support of a larger battle against COVID-19 – a common enemy now threatening all of human kind. Guterres stated: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war… It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives… End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.” According to the World Health Organization, there are over 1,056,159 cases worldwide with over 57, 206 confirmed deaths, reaching 208 countries to date. The United States alone is the current epicenter of the virus with at least 241,703 confirmed cases of COVID-19. While the efforts of the United States government should be focused on addressing this public health crisis rather than warmongering, the United States has nevertheless decided to move forward with military mobilizations that threaten the welfare of the US and the Latin American region.
The United States government rather than promoting global solidarity, has chosen the dangerous path of inciting armed conflict through its recent mobilization and tour de force in Latin America with an eye towards specifically destabilizing the Venezuelan government and seeking regime change under the pretext of increasing “anti-narcotic” operations at a time when the world is focused on responding to a global pandemic due to COVID-19.
On April 1, 2020, President Trump announced during a Coronavirus Press Briefing, that the United States would be launching “enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics” and stated that:
“In cooperation with the 22 partner nations, U.S. Southern Command will increase surveillance, disruption, and seizures of drug shipments and provide additional support for eradication efforts which are going on right now at a record pace. We’re deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft, and helicopters; Coast Guard cutters; and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region.”
On April 2, 2020, world news sources reported US military deployment of warships to the Caribbean to stop illegal drugs. This announcement came two days after Secretary of State Pompeo offered to lift crippling sanctions against Venezuela if President Nicolas Maduro would agree to a power-sharing agreement, which was ultimately rejected.
There have been alarming reports on April 3 and April 4, 2020, from different news outlets in Colombia as well as social media sources, have shown videos of armed force mobilization in Colombia along the border with Venezuela, in Northern Santander and Cucuta, some of which seem to indicate United States involvement. Although the Colombian military has stated such movements are part of “anti-narcotic” exercises and deny any foreign military involvement, unanswered questions remain as to the current presence of the United States military in Colombia and the region.
What is brewing is a perfect storm for armed conflict incited by United States interventionism and armed mobilization in the region. An armed conflict between the United States and Venezuela, with backing from Colombia for the US, would not only end in a regional conflict, but holds broader implications for a possible transnational conflict. In addition, any conflict involving nations of Latin America would effectively disable the Venezuelan and/or Colombian governments from adequately addressing the wellbeing of their citizens due to the world health catastrophe of COVID-19.
Such actions of the United States government are in direct violation of international law and the United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS) Charters – both of which are incorporated into United States domestic law through Article 6 section 2 of the US Constitution. Article 2(3) of the UN Charter states: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” Likewise, Article 2(4) states that all members shall refrain “from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Finally, Article 19 of the OAS Charter states that no state has “the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatsoever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State… [prohibiting] 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.”
Due to the foregoing, as members of the international legal community, we DEMAND the following and call upon the State Department to:
• RE-EXAMINE the United States government’s recent deployment of military force in the Latin American region.
• CEASE all forms of United States interventionism in Latin America and halt any further mobilization of armed forces in the region.
• RESPECT the national sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and that of the Republic of Colombia.
While Colombia may be cooperating with the United States in facilitating military
mobilization in the region, despite this, Venezuela has offered its neighboring country two machines for COVID-19 testing. The world needs global solidarity, not war. We must act in accordance with the principles of law that we, as a nation, hold in the highest regard.
National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Colombia Subcommittee, International Committee, NLG
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations High Commissioner, Ms. Michelle Bachelet Jeria
United Nations Human Rights Committee
Mr. Ahmed Amin Fathalla, Chair
Sr. Ivan Duque, Presidente de la Republica de Colombia
Comision de Derechos Humanos, Senado de la Republica de Colombia
Senador Gustavo Petro
Senador Ivan Cepeda Castro
Senador Alexander López Maya
Senador Jorge Enrique Robledo
Senador Pablo Catatumbo
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Chair House Committee on Foreign Affairs