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16 Years After US Invaded Iraq, Anti-War Groups Demand No Regime Change in Venezuela

"Regime change has a disastrous track record."

People hold posters during a demonstration by Venezuelans against foreign intervention under the slogan #VenezuelaQuierePaz (Venezuela Wants Peace) at United States Embassy on February 18, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

People hold posters during a demonstration by Venezuelans against foreign intervention under the slogan #VenezuelaQuierePaz (Venezuela Wants Peace) at United States Embassy on February 18, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo: Franco Fasuli/Getty Images)

Anti-war voices are marking the 16th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand the U.S. government not take a page out of the same playbook and unleash similar catastrophe and carnage in Venezuela.

"Thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives because of a war entered into under false pretenses," said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, in a statement. "Surveying the foreign policy challenges of the present, from Iran, to North Korea, to Venezuela, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Regime change has a disastrous track record."

Codepink also marked the anniversary of when the U.S. "illegally, immorally, and unconstitutionally invaded Iraq."

"We can't do the same to Venezuela!" the organization said. 

The U.S. is backing self-declared interim president Juan Guaido and imposing economic sanctions. The Trump administration has also warned that "all options are on the table" in terms of Venezuela.

To prevent another war, the women-led organization is hoping to put pressure on lawmakers to pass legislation preventing President Donald Trump from using military force in Venezuela without congressional authorization. Just look to recent history, the group says, and it's clear that when the U.S. backs a coup, "it always turns out disastrous for the people."

From its call-to-action:

The U.S. is orchestrating a coup in Venezuela that is likely to lead to bloodshed—even civil war. Instead of meddling the internal affairs of another country, the U.S. should be supporting peaceful dialogue facilitated by mediators such as Mexico, Uruguay, and the Pope. We have seen, and are seeing now at the U.S.-Mexico border, the effects of past U.S. backed coups in Latin America—Guatemala in 1953, Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009. It always turns out disastrous for the people.

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Senator Markley has introduced legislation making it clear to President Trump that without congressional authorization—authorization he does NOT have —he may not use military force in Venezuela. Representative David Cicilline has introduced similar legislation in the House

Send a message to your Senators and Representative telling them to cosponsor S.J.Res.11 in the Senate and H.R.1004 in the House to prevent Trump, [national security advisor John] Bolton, and [special envoy to Venezuela Elliot] Abrams from being able to send the U.S. military to intervene in Venezuela.

Seeing echoes of the lead-up to the Iraq war, Brazilian activist Maria Luísa Mendonça told Democracy Now! Wednesday, "it's important to have resistance" to intervention in Venezuela.

"The discourse about Venezuela is very similar to the discourse about Iraq," she said. "At the end it's about lying, misinformation, to promote a war that is... about oil."

The 2003 invasion of Iraq became an ongoing war that has directly or indirectly killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis—though by some estimates the death toll stands at over one million.

U.S. forces have also been accused of carrying out war crimes and other human rights violations in Iraq. And while U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning spent time in jail for exposing some of those crimes, architects and cheerleaders of the war have been given platforms at high profile universities, in corporate media, and within the Trump administration.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), pointing to the invasion's "trail of destruction and lives lost," urged, "We must hold accountable those who repeated lied in the run-up to war."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for his part, drew attention to the ongoing "disastrous consequences" of the invasion and called for "a foreign policy that focuses on diplomacy, not war."

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