An Open Letter to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
On Saturday, Feb. 23, tons of desperately needed humanitarian aid in the form of food and medications was blocked from entering Venezuela from Colombia and Brazil, much of it set on fire as soldiers loyal to Nicolás Maduro faced off against desperate civilians in a deadly crash that resulted in more than 300 injuries and at least two fatalities.
And as lines of troops thrust round after round of teargas cannisters into crowds of civilian men, women and children at these now-closed borders and the potentially life-saving humanitarian supplies smoldered into ashes, far away in Caracas, Maduro – like a callous modern-day Nero (who allegedly played his fiddle while more than 70 percent of Rome burned down in 64 A.D.) – was seen on national television gleefully rapping at a set of conga drums and dancing salsa with his wife.
The people of Venezuela – once the richest country in Latin America – are hungry and dying from starvation and lack of crucial medications.
So far, more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country out of desperation, and there are many thousands more who would leave if they could, but are futile captives of the repressive Maduro regime.
According to a report issued earlier this month by Venezuela’s own Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi), conducted by the country’s leading universities, 64 percent of Venezuelan adults registered a loss of an average of 11 kilos last year due to food shortages.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated on Feb. 5 that, as a consequence of a lack of medical supplies and the collapse of the healthcare system, the incidence of deadly infectious diseases is on the rise and there has been a reemergence of malaria and tuberculosis, once considered vanquished in the country.
WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic went on to say that because there are not enough vaccines to immunize Venezuelan children against killer diseases, there has also been a resurgence of measles and diphtheria, jointly leading to more than 250 deaths in one year alone.
The world has answered the plea of the Venezuelan people, sending much-needed supplies that stand waiting to enter the country.
But Maduro has strictly opposed the deliveries, calling then a ploy to topple his government.
A month after Venezuelan opposite leader Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president on Jan. 23, most of the Western powers – including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru — have recognized the 35-year-old head of Venezuela’s National Assembly as the country’s legitimate acting ruler and have called on Maduro to allow new elections.
But despite the growing surge of international support of Guaidó and the Venezuelan people, you, Señor Presidente de México Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), have steadfastly refused to condemn your apparent bosom buddy, quoting an antiquated concept of constitutional principles of nonintervention and turning a blind eye to the long suffering of the Venezuelan people.
Señor Presidente, during your daily morning bully pulpit press conferences, you have consistently stated that anyone who is aware of corruption or fuel theft and does nothing to stop them is guilty of complicity in those crimes.
Respectfully, then, I ask you: Is not a world leader who refuses to condemn a dictator who is literally starving his own people and letting them die for lack of medications equally guilty of complicity in those crimes against humanity?
You have repeatedly spoken about ethics and even issued a “Cartilla Moral” (“Moral Handbook”) in order to inspire Mexicans to help “cure” the moral fiber of the country and “heal a nation broken by corruption and crime.”
Is it not, then, a crime to sit idly by as thousands of the Venezuelan brethren are starved and left to die when the crucial food and medications that could save their lives lies just meters away, across the borders that Maduro has so cruelly closed down?
Thankfully, the tide is finally turning in Venezuela.
In the last few hours, more than 100 Venezuelan rank-and-file soldiers have deserted and crossed into Colombia, and during the last few months, more than 2,000 noncommissioned national guard officers, appalled by Maduro’s inhumane tactics, have defected.
By all indications, Maduro’s days in power are numbered.
For Mexico, the time to take a stance is now.
Señor Presidente López Obrador, we implore you to publicly take a firm position in defense of the Venezuelan people, and condemn the cold-hearted crimes of Maduro.
To do otherwise is to position yourself and your administration to go down not only on the wrong side of history, but on the wrong side of humanity.