PRESIDENT Nicolás Maduro says decisions about Venezuela are not made by foreign governments.
He disclosed that Venezuela was now in a better position to confront international sanctions that have cost Venezuela losses of some US$20 billion in 2018 alone.
According to an interview transcript with Ignacio Ramonet, President Maduro said Venezuela was a country which has forged its identity, its Republican nature and its independence throughout its history.
“The electoral power in Venezuela is a public power, the fifth public power, and utilises logistics, advanced electronic systems, recognised by international figures of unquestionable prestige, like Jimmy Carter, who stated that the election process in Venezuela is the most transparent and spotless that can be seen in the world,” said President Maduro, who was inaugurated on January 10.
“The presidential elections of May 20, 2018, were held with the supervision of national and international observers. And our people made a decision. Decisions about Venezuela are not made by foreign governments. The people made this decision: for the first time, we received 68 per cent of the votes, and we are going to abide by the people’s decision. Our democracy has real strength; there have been 25 elections in the last 20 years. That is to say, in 20 years of Revolution, there have been almost three times the number held in the United States during this period.”
On the economic battle, he said in 2019 his government would ensure protection of jobs, of workers’ income and organised growth in the economy’s fundamental sectors.
“We are in a better position to confront the cut throat battle against international sanctions that have cost Venezuela losses of some 20 billion dollars in 2018 alone. It is savage persecution,” President Maduro said. “I am intent on raising oil production, increasing Venezuela’s petrochemical capacity, the production of gold, of diamonds, of coltan, iron, steel, aluminum, etc. – riches that the country has, and raw materials that have an open international market, despite the extensive international persecution decreed by the US. I must say, with admiration, that the people face all of these aggressions with astonishing political consciousness, determined to resist such cowardly attacks, with the decisive support of our security forces.”
On opposition which shunned elections, President Maduro said he had always appealed to the Venezuelan opposition for political dialogue on more than 300 occasions.
“Our work has always been directed toward strengthening peaceful, political coexistence among forces in Venezuela,” he said. “But all of our efforts for dialogue have been boycotted by the US Embassy in Venezuela. Someday, the visits made by the Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, door-to-door, to every one of the opposition’s candidates for nomination, to force them not to participate in the May 20 Presidential elections, will be known.”
On corruption in Venezuela, President Maduro said in the country’s history, there has never been a process or government that has more vigorously fought corruption than the Bolivarian Revolution.
“I am aware that one of our adversaries’ fronts of attack against us consists of accusing us of being lax with regards to corruption. This is absolutely false,” he said. “I denounce corruption in practically every one of my speeches. I am the first to recognise that there is a lot of corruption; many thieves in public office robbing, scamming, taking advantage of the people. I denounced this with greater severity this past December 20, during the Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples, where I proposed the creation of a plan to struggle against corruption and bureaucratism. Something that has never been done in Venezuela. In 2019, one of our fundamental lines of work will be precisely a relentless struggle against passivity, negligence, procrastination, and above all, corruption. I have asked the people for all their support in this crusade. This is an eminently popular cause, widely supported by the people. People know that corruption is their enemy, an enemy of the Revolution.”
On food scarcity and humanitarian crisis, President Maduro said the true nature of the brutal, despicable psychological media campaign conducted by imperialist powers against Venezuela had been demonstrated by serious investigators of the information.
“Of all the news published about Venezuela in US and European media, 98 per cent is negative. They are silent about our guaranteeing food for the people, as if bodies like the FAO had not recognised this,” he said. “They make no mention of our distributing some 14 million toys to boys and girls in poor families. They say nothing of our provision of 2.5 million homes. They omit the fact that almost all of Venezuela’s population has access to quality medical assistance free of charge. We do not deny the problems in our country. On the contrary, we face them, discuss them with our people, and are determined to solve them. If the US wants to help us, they can start by not being hypocrites.”
President Maduro said there was a gigantic “false positive” operation, coordinated by the world’s “false positive” champions, “that is the Colombian government, accompanied in the farce by some satellites of US imperialism.”
“We do not deny that a group of Venezuelans left the country buying into the deceptive offer of ‘better living and working conditions.’ They went to Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and came face-to-face with the brutal reality of savage capitalism,” he said. “Many were robbed, mistreated, brutalised, and subjected to slave labour. Moreover, the government of Colombia and its President Iván Duque, in a display of unprecedented gall, is trying to get money out of the operation. Incredible! Do you know that we have taken in some six million brothers and sisters from Colombia? That’s 12 per cent of Colombia’s population, but they live in Venezuela! We have offered them security, work, food, education, free medical attention, peace, and the right to a dignified life. And something unheard of has occurred. I don’t recall it happening anywhere else: around mid-2018, large crowds of compatriots began to appear at the doors of our embassies and consulates in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, etc. Compatriots asking to return to Venezuela and we created the ‘Return to the Homeland’ plan. More than 20,000 Venezuelans have returned already.”
On the resurfacing of neo-liberal right in Latin America, President Maduro said Latin America was a disputed territory and based on the Monroe Doctrine, resurrected by the current US administration of Donald Trump.
“There has been a brutal offensive against popular movements in recent years, against the alternative leaderships which, beginning in the 90s, confronted and dismantled neo-liberalism in Latin America,” he observed. “Remember, for example, Brazilian president Lula da Silva, former president Cristina Fernández of Argentina, among other leaders. There has been persecution of these leaders that has allowed for the emergence of ultra-right wing governments and leaders. There has been, it is true, a regressive cycle in terms of social conquests, the advances that had been achieved with progressive leaderships of great diversity. We see it not only in the impact of these policies on the people, but also in privatisation processes.”
But President Maduro said every process of regression stimulates and drives internal forces to fight back.
“Thus, we find that alongside this extensive current regression, with several countries governed today by neoliberal forces, the capacity for action of popular, social movements is becoming stronger,” he said. “Popular forces, across our continent, are already on battle footing again.”
President Maduro also said there have been so many times, “amidst the battles, after a hard day, that I have asked myself the question: What would [president Hugo] Chávez have done?”
“How would he have done it? Fortunately, he established with us, with his closest team, a continuous pedagogical effort, a training process on the immense difficulties existing in the construction of a revolutionary process: its risks, its obstacles, its challenges, its unforeseen events,” said President Maduro. “The attacks, the threats, the betrayals. That forged us. So the immense solitude in which he left us is somehow compensated by the advice he left us. That is why I call upon him daily.”