The following statement was issued by the American Association of Jurists, a Non-Governmental Organization with consultative status before the ECOSOC and permanent representation before the UN in New York and Geneva. The AAJ is a member organization of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

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DECLARATION OF THE AAJ REJECTING THE DECLARATION OF THE “LIMA GROUP”

No time for empires or colonies. It is time for people and dignity.

The American Association of Jurists, which has among its objectives the struggle for self-determination of peoples, action against imperialism, fascism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, the defense of an effective peace based on the principle of peaceful coexistence between states of different social and economic systems, and the defense and promotion of human rights and their implementation, expresses its firmest rejection of the recent declaration of the so-called “Lima Group,” opposed by Mexico, which promotes the delegitimization of the legitimately constituted authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

This group of governments arose after the failure of the attempt promoted by the United States to activate the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Venezuela in the OAS, by arguing that a supposed rupture of the constitutional order took place that country. Along that same interventionist path, in April of last year, they rejected the announcement of the presidential elections of Venezuela in 2018, and Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovín failed to invite President Nicolás Maduro to the Summit of the Americas in 2018, stating that he would not be welcome.

On this occasion, and under the clear leadership of the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, who, despite not formally joining the “group,” participated in the same, after his visit to several Latin American countries, demanded that their governments increase the pressure against President Nicolás Maduro. He demanded they issue a declaration that purports to dismiss the legitimacy of the Venezuelan elections, relying on dubious, bad-faith arguments [1]; urges President Nicolás Maduro not to assume the office for which his people have elected him, instead requiring him to temporarily transfer power to the National Assembly, totally ignoring the resolution of the Constituent Assembly and arrogantly denying the results of two elections with broad popular participation and several political parties and the structure set forth in the National Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic.
 
These governments reflect obvious contradictions when they express concern about the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. They attribute it to the alleged “breakdown of democratic order and the rule of law”, but in the list of measures that they agree upon, include:


• Reevaluating the status or level of diplomatic relations with Venezuela;
• Preventing high officials of the Venezuelan government from entering the territory of the countries of the Lima Group;
• Preparing lists of natural and legal persons with whom financial and banking entities of their countries should not operate or should have special due diligence, prevent their access to the financial system and, if necessary, freeze their funds and other assets or economic resources ;
• Evaluating, with restrictive criteria, the granting of loans to Venezuela in the international and regional financial organizations of which they are a part;
• Evaluating the permissions of overflight of Venezuelan military aircraft in cases of humanitarian assistance.

The agreement reflects a deepening of the economic blockade and isolation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, already applied for almost 60 years to Cuba, by the same imperial power, with the aim of propitiating a coup d’état and the overthrow of President Maduro. To do this, they exacerbate economic difficulties, through a commercial and political blockade, causing irreparable damage to the people who suffer them and creating a migration crisis.

The shameful conduct of these governments constitutes a serious threat to the peace of the region and a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, an organization based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members. The Charter 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, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. … shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.””

In addition, Article 19 of the OAS Charter affirms that “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.”

The approach of the Lima Declaration to the migrant and humanitarian crisis is surprisingly hypocritical, welcoming its inclusion in the UN Global Humanitarian Appeal for 2019 as well as the appointment of the IOM and UNHCR, when it is taken into account that these same members have maintained an embarrassing silence about the humanitarian crises suffered by other countries in the region. For example, we refer to the serious situation in Haiti; the caravan of Honduran migrants; the situation of almost 15,000 migrant children, mostly from Central America, detained by and in the custody of the government of the United States; and the critical situation in Colombia after the signing of the peace accords. Until now, over 5 million Colombians reside in Venezuela and millions more in other countries. No requests for interventions, embargoes or blockades have been heard against these countries similar to those supported here. This reveals clearly that they respond only to the geopolitical interests of the United States, which, through its officials, have clearly shown themselves in favor of a military intervention against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

We also highlight the position of the new Mexican government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who spoke out against the threats and recognized the legitimacy of President Maduro’s government based on a defense of the principles of respect for the self-determination of the peoples and non-intervention. López Obrador asked the Lima Group to ensure the multilateralist approach and the principle that dialogue and understanding among Venezuelans will be the only possible way to solve the problems facing the country. Pope Francis has also expressed himself in similar terms.

Noting all of the above, the AAJ calls jurists’ organizations, as well as social, cultural and professional movements and organizations and progressive political forces to repudiate the coup threats of the government of the United States and the entities in the so-called “Lima Group” and to demand that their respective governments respect the provisions of the United Nations Charter in regard to non-intervention in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.


[1] They state: “for not having counted on the participation of all the Venezuelan political actors, and without the presence of independent international observers, nor with the guarantees and international standards necessary for a free, fair and transparent process,” when in reality diverse lists and candidacies competed, they had a broad popular participation that reached a percentage equal to that of US elections, and they were attended by more than two hundred national and international companions. The results have been subject to corresponding audits, and have not received internal challenges.

Signed January 11, 2019

Vanessa Ramos
AAJ Continental President

Luis Carlos Moro
Secretary General

Beinusz Szmukler
President of the Advisory Board of the AAJ