Between Maduro and Guaido: Venezuela

Venezuelan journalist and academician Luis Alonso Hernandez gave an interview to Ismail Okan. He is shared important details about Venezuelan crisis and drew attention to Nicolas Maduro and Jose Guaido’s positions. Also Hernandez told that Venezuelans don’t want any military intervention from another country.

What’s happening in Venezuela?

“Venezuela is experiencing the worst political, economic and social crisis in contemporary history. To understand the situation you have to look back. Hugo Chavez won the elections in 1998 in an unquestionable way. His government was characterized by a large number of social programs that benefited the poorest. However, he began to show signs of an authoritarian government, a situation that became stronger after a coup against him in 2002. The government began expropriating companies, appointed active military officers in public office and limited freedom of expression. Before his death in 2013, problems were already visible in the production of food and production of electricity; two of the major problems that Venezuela has today. The government has always said that these problems are the responsibility of the ’empire’, of the ‘economic war’. However, by that date no sanctions of any kind had been registered on Venezuela.

With the arrival of Nicolas Maduro to power, the crisis reaches to levels that no one ever imagined in an oil country. In 2015, popular discontent caused the opposition to win the elections of the National Congress. But the government takes away the powers of Congress and begins to govern by decree, with the help of the Supreme Court of Justice. Photo Luis AlonsoThe political crisis increases with the call for elections of the National Constituent Assembly, which becomes an assembly with absolute powers, above the Congress. This Constituent Assembly is elected on July 30, 2017, in violation of the National Constitution, which indicates that in order to convene a Constituent Assembly, a Consultative Referendum must be convened. This same Constituent Assembly calls for presidential elections in May 2018; elections where the opposition majority decided not to participate, with the exception of Henry Falcón and an evangelical pastor named Javier Bertucci.

One of the allegations used by Juan Guaido is that last year’s elections were called by an illegitimate Constituent Assembly. For this reason he does not recognize Nicolas Maduro as president and is sworn in as president of Venezuela, calling for protests in the streets. Situation has generated to a greater uncertainty among Venezuelans because of the international support that Guaido receives, especially from the United States. Meanwhile, the people continue to pay the prices of a government that is not able to satisfy the basic needs of food, health, and security. Inflation is the highest in the world, exceeding one million percent. In my case, I’m a university professor and my monthly salary does not exceed 20 dollars.”

I think this crisis must be solved by Venezuelans. But we are watching some interventions from the US. What do you think about the US policies in Venezuela?

“I also believe that it must be resolved by the Venezuelans. It is evident that there are interests about Venezuela. The country has the largest oil reserves in the world. Just as I reject the intervention of the United States in Venezuela, we Venezuelans must reject the intervention of Russia and China. Support for the Maduro government is not a coincidence. Russian and Chinese companies exploit gold mines and have millionaire contracts in the country. I think that the despair of the Venezuelan people and the strong repression in the protests makes them think of a foreign military intervention. I also think that if there is no sincere dialogue between the opposition and the government, the crisis will deepen. The ineptitude of the regime is evident. I also believe that the opposition leaders have played with the hopes of the people.”

Maduro defends himself as an elected president. Is there not any way to solve problems in election box?

“He was elected in elections questioned by the origin of the National Constituent Assembly. It is evident that he has lost popular support. The crisis is unsustainable. I think I must resign and call elections with a renewed electoral tribunal. If you want to be a candidate, it is your right. But I think he does not want elections. In addition, when within the same chavismo arise criticism, Maduro is responsible for silencing them. Recall the case of former Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, arrested in March 2018 after criticizing the Maduro government. He was accused of attacking the fatherland.”

Actually Guaido’s American contacts create a doubt for many people. Who is he?

“Any opposition leader who assumes the role assumed by Guaidó was to receive international support, including that of the United States. However, let’s not forget that the United States is the main buyer of Venezuelan oil, and in spite of the verbal war, the businesses are maintained by the Maduro government. This attitude is not accidental; I think the same doubts are generated by the Russian and Chinese approach with the Maduro government. Guaido comes from the Venezuelan student movement. He was not well known until he was appointed as the president of the National Assembly. But I think that the leaders of his own political party are the ones who have manipulated him. The last moves that allegedly supported the Venezuelan military went very wrong. Despite the situation, I think he is the only one who can lead the Venezuelan opposition. The opposition needs a young leader who can unify it. Maduro has remained in power because of the bad opposition to his government.”

We know a coup chain in Latin America over the US, since 1950’s. What is difference now? How can Latin Americans trust to Washington DC?

“History has shown that the United States is an expert at organizing coups. With Trump nothing changes. Do not trust. Part of the population calls for military intervention from the United States, I think it would be a serious mistake. The people are desperate. There is hunger. There is torture. The government seems not to listen to the people. I do not agree with a military intervention, but international pressure is necessary. Especially from Latin America.”

Do you think there can be a military intervention by the US in Venezuela?

“I think we will not reach military intervention. So far it has been a verbal war. However there is discontent in the Venezuelan military. I do not rule out a military uprising.”

What you think for Venezuela’s future?

“Uncertain. There are no agreements and people continue to suffer. In the protests there is a lot of repression. It is no coincidence that 3 million people have fled their country. I think the countries that support Maduro should analyze this situation. Press for elections to be called with a new electoral tribunal.”

This interview published in Intell4 Strategy Channell on June 6, 2019

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