Open letter to the people and governments of Latin America

Latin America for the Latin Americans: the case of Venezuela

The crisis in Venezuela is already spilling across the borders and putting pressure on neighbouring governments, such as Colombiaand Brazil, and researchers at The University of Manchester have predictedthat Venezuela’s recent election will provoke further regional migration crises. Latin American leaders need to understand this humanitarian crisis as a regional problem and come together to explore ways of protecting Venezuelans and deal with it regionally, without the interference of non-Latin American States.

Latin America for the Latin Americans

This regional and multilateral approach has its basis in the Monroe Doctrine, also known as “America for the Americans”, which is embodied in the legal framework of the Rio Treaty and the Organisation of American States (OAS). This doctrine was first proclaimed in 1823 by the United States President, James Monroe, to protect the newly independent Latin American states from European interventionist and recolonising plans.

Since this time, and especially during the Cold War, the doctrine has been interpreted differently to support interventions in Latin America to protect regional interests, ranging from unilateral interventions by the United States to multilateral interventions supported by the OAS. In Venezuelan’s current climate, this doctrine needs to be invoked in a way that reflects the principles stipulated in its original form: the political and territorial inviolability of Latin-American nations and non-intervention by powers outside the Latin-American hemisphere. Invoking the doctrine in this way would, perhaps, be better understood as “Latin-America for the Latin-Americans”.

Public International Law

Traditional public international law regards States as equal legal entities. The Charter of the United Nations (article 2.4) and the Charter of the OAS (articles 17 and 20) expressly state that the territory of a State is inviolable and that States shall refrain from resorting to threats or use of force between them. However, the most recent principles of public international law of responsibility to protect and of humanitarian intervention allow the use of force, under certain requirements, against sovereign States to protect civilians from violations of their human rights.

Despite the good intentions of the new international law institutions, there are several cases in which classical powers have used force with seemingly justifiable ends, but which resulted in the legitimisation of neo-colonial actions on less powerful States. Examples such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan clearly show that, despite human rights-based justifications, interventions by States outside the region, far from achieving peace and international and local security, aggravated the situation both internally and regionally.

So how can we honour the principles of territorial integrity, equality amongst sovereign States, and the responsibility to protect without legitimising dubious interventions?

The Peruvian Solution

Early in 2017, the Peruvian government created the Temporary Permit of Permanence (PTP) to protect the rights of Venezuelans who have been forced to migrate because of the political and humanitarian crisis in their country. More than 11,000 Venezuelans received the PTP between February and July 2017.  The PTP allows Venezuelans who have entered Peru legally to legitimise their stay in the country, enabling them to work and access services such as health and education, and even to revalidate university degrees. It also allows them to obtain a Unique Taxpayer Registry Number (RUC) to carry out economic activities and make tax contributions. The PTP is initially valid for one year but can be extended to give Venezuelans the opportunity to qualify for citizenship. This initiative substantially improves the living conditions of Venezuelan migrants.

The PTP is consistent with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) recommendations, which urge American states to implement measures to protect Venezuelan migrants. Therefore, the PTP upholds the principle of equality and non-discrimination in its protection of the rights of Venezuelan migrants in Peru.

The IACHR has held up the PTP as an example for the region and has urged other OAS member states to adopt similar measures within a framework of shared responsibility. Colombia has now followed suit and approved a Special Permit of Permanence (PEP) for Venezuelans who entered the country legally.

The PTP is an intermediate solution which respects Venezuela’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty whilst ensuring both the protection of human rights and non-interference of agents from outside the Latin-American region. We ask the people in Latin-American region and our governments to follow in the footsteps of Peru and Colombia and collectively secure the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Venezuela.

Dawid Bunikowski (Poland)

Jasminka Hasanbegovic (Serbia)

Assya Ostroukh (Barbados)

Roxana Cortina (Perú)

Slavomira Hencekova (Slovakia)

Hellen Parra Florez (Colombia)

Nicola Dimitri (Italy)

Verónica Ichinousqui (Argentina)

Stanley Paulson

(United States)

Philip Edwards (United Kingdom)

William Lucy (United Kingdom)

Pamela Rodríguez (México)

Nuno Ferreira (Portugal)

Leonardo Marchettoni (Italy)

Verónica Rodríguez Blanco (Venezuela)

Patricia Glym Sylva Coelho de Souza (Brazil)

Eleonora Montes Lagunes (México)

Monika Zalewska (Poland)

Gerardo Alberto Gracia Pérez (México)

Jorge Emilio Núñez (Argentina)


May 2018

Twitter: @London1701

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