Open Letter to the Congressional Black Caucus re: U.S. attacks on Venezuela

Joan P. Gibbs, Esq. | 4/4/2019, 1:37 p.m.
We write to urge you to support the international and domestic efforts to thwart the Unites States’ unlawful attempts to ...

Greetings. We write to urge you to support the international and domestic efforts to thwart the Unites States’ unlawful attempts to change the existing governments in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Cuba. Since its first days in office, the Trump administration has openly talked about going to war with Venezuela for its oil and ousting Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro. To this end, the Trump administration has employed a variety of destabilizing tactics and actions against Venezuela, including imposing severe economic sanctions, endorsing and providing support to Venezuelan National Assembly president, Juan Guaidó, who has asserted that he—not Maduro, who was democratically elected—is the president of Venezuela, and by attempting to launch a so-called “humanitarian intervention” from the boarders of Colombia into Venezuela.

Falsely blaming Cuba for the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, the Trump administration in recent weeks has also ratchetted up the U.S.’s regime change efforts against the existing government in Cuba. In particular, the Trump administration has for the first time since the enactment of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (also known as the Helms-Burton Act) opted not to suspend Title III of Helms-Burton, changed the B2 visa policies for Cuban citizens and threatened to impose sanctions on countries that facilitate the shipment of oil from Venezuela to Cuba. In effect, the United States actions, in heightening its destabilizing efforts against Venezuela and Cuba, are tantamount to a declaration of war against Venezuela and Cuba and their peoples in violation of international law and the constitution and laws of the United States.


Truthfully speaking, the U.S. efforts to effectuate regime change in Venezuela are not new as they date back to the reign of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The Trump administration, however, has not just continued these efforts but significantly escalated them. In particular, Trump and other members of his administration have openly talked about going to war with Venezuela for its oil and ousting Maduro. The U.S. has no legal basis for attacking Venezuela as international law forbids the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. There are two generally acceptable exceptions to the U.N. Charter’s mandate: self-defense and authorization by the U.N. Security Council; neither of which have been met with respect to Venezuela. In addition, an unprovoked U.S. attack on Venezuela would also violate Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which provides in pertinent part that “The Congress shall have the Power …To declare war…” and the War Powers Act. See 50 U.S.C. 154 et seq.

Indeed, in response to the Trump administration’s war-mongering threats against Venezuela, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) on Feb. 6, 2019 introduced a resolution in the House—H.R. 1004, titled “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Act in Venezuela Act.” H.R. 1004 provides in pertinent part that: “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense or to any other Federal department or agency may be used to introduce the Armed Forces of the United States into hostilities with respect to Venezuela, except pursuant to—(1) a declaration of war; (2) a specific statutory authorization described in subsection (b); or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions or the Armed Forces.” Subsection (b) states that “A specific authorization described in this subsection is an authorization that—(1) meets the requirements of the War Powers Resolution… (2) is enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.” H.R. 1004 is supported by several members of the CBC—Yvette Clarke, Barbara Lee, Eleanor H. Norton, and Ilhan Omar. We urge the members of the CBC who have not yet signed on to H.R. 1004 to do so and to encourage other members of the House of Representatives to do so as well.