Venezuela starts to collect 10 million signatures of anti-U.S. petition
CARACAS, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday started a campaign to round up 10 million signatures demanding U.S. President Barack Obama repeal an order that declares this South American nation a "threat " to its national security.
Maduro was the first to ink the petition and on Thursday morning more than 13,000 spots were installed all over the country to collect the signatures which will be sent to the White House once completed.
In the capital, hundreds gathered to sign the petition at Caracas' Bolivar Square and rejected the recent threats made by the Obama administration.
"My signature on this petition represents the will of the majority of the Venezuelan people to preserve peace and stability in our country," Felix Ramirez, a participant, told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, young college student, Edwin Contreras, said he was motivated to sign this petition because of "patriotism and social values."
"I have grown with this revolution and the principles of justice and equality Hugo Chavez taught us and this recent aggression by the U.S. is unacceptable," Contreras said.
Maduro has blasted Obama's move as an attempt to undermine his Socialist rule and bring back Washington-backed politicians to govern this nation.
Socialist lawmaker, Carlos Sierra, told Xinhua that this petition, beyond political beliefs, is a document all Venezuelans should sign to "defend the homeland from foreign threats."
"We are a nation of peace, principles and recognized by the majority of the world's governments as a democratic and Constitutional state that doesn't pose a threat to any country," said Sierra.
Also, the deputy said that this campaign will be expanded to hundreds of cities worldwide and over the social networks with the hashtag "Obama Repeal The Order Now".
Opponents say Maduro is trying to distract attention from a deepening economic crisis and shortages of basic goods in order to center the political situation in a confrontation with Washington.
On Tuesday, Venezuela ran an ad in The New York Times demanding Obama to repeal the "hostile actions" against this South American nation and expressed its willingness to keep up good relations with Washington.
The signature campaign is set to take place until April 9, a day before the Summit of the Americas in Panama where Obama is set to meet with all the region's presidents including Maduro.
Maduro said he will take the ad and the 10 million signatures to hand them over to Obama at the Panama meeting.