The Republic of India and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strengthen ties of friendship and strategic commercial cooperation since October 1, 1959, and their bilateral diplomatic relations have been characterized by cordiality, complementarity and respect for the self-determination of peoples, a fact that has been reinforced since the arrival of the Bolivarian Revolution that has driven the multicentric and multipolar world.
Several important leaders of Latin America celebrated on July 28 the 65th birthday of Commander Hugo Chávez, the founding and historical leader of the Bolivarian Revolution.
This Friday, the Bolivarian Government informed through a Communiqué that the High Commissioner of the United Nations Organization for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will make an official visit to the South American country from June 19 to 21, after the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, extended the invitation to him in November 2018.
A pile of lies, falsehoods, manipulations and calumnies has been constructed; a whole world parallel to reality, a whole alternate fantasy that serves to confuse millions of people about what is happening in Venezuela.
Today I come to make contact with reality and tell the world what our truth is.
Firstly, I would like to clarify what happened here regarding which government the OAS recognize. That is the first farce, a swindle, a fraud, a trick, a maneuver, a manipulation. They are all trying to play tricks. Yet, it continues to work for them, and they keep repeating it.
The only way that I get out of this char, as a representative of the Venezuelan State, and representative of the government of Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros, full member of this Organization with all the rights exercised for more than 70 years, without violating international law, without violence, without cheating, without fraud, without manipulation and without arbitrariness, is that you, Mr. President, receive in your hands the resolution approved by the Extraordinary General Assembly of the OAS where 24 member states would have voted for the suspension of the rights of the Venezuelan State in this Organization.
Without that General Assembly resolution, every act is null and void, and it would translate in the destruction of this Organization. What we have just heard from the Secretary-General is false, he lies, he swindles, he says it in front of everyone. That is why member states of CARICOM complained to him about it.
It is not true that a Permanent Council resolution with 18 votes can ignore a member State. It is false, it is just propaganda. The only penalty, in all the statutes of this Organization, that can be applied to a State is suspension and occurs with 24 votes in a General Assembly of Foreign Ministers, and that has not happened. Everything else is false. All those lies are quelled the minute that I sit here. Everything else collapses, the lie collapses, the fraud collapses. Stop lying, get the 24 votes of the Assembly needed, and I would only then get out of here legitimately.
They permanently threaten to take away our visas. Doing so would be a scam. The U.S. is using its personal or bilateral enmity with Venezuela to affect our multilateral functioning. We have already broken off relations with the U.S. from a bilateral point of view.
We have to dismantle all this and bring light to the darkness of lies from the eyes of the majority of the people and international public opinion.
Each State is free to recognize whoever it wants, but what is certain is that in order to get us out of here it is necessary to comply with the Charter. Enough of this scam!
Let us now explore the core of the other topics.
A wave of self-proclamation runs through the hemisphere. In Venezuela, a congressman stands in a square and proclaims himself president; in Miami tourists gather in a restaurant and self-proclaim themselves the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice. Here, in this room, the Secretary General proclaims himself head of the OAS and begins to disregard states and give orders without having the authority to do so. He begins to take orders on behalf of the states. He is not the head of the OAS. He speaks as if he were the president of those states, but that doesn’t work that way. Please, you have to understand what the function of this gentleman is here! When he calls for war, he violates everything he is doing here.
In the very OAS, an employee of Washington’s propaganda bodies proclaimed himself Ambassador of Venezuela without anyone understanding how he can occupy this post. That’s why he’s not sitting here, because he proclaimed himself!
To add to the confusion, a U.S. senator proclaims himself Chief of our Bolivarian National Armed Force and threatens our officers in Venezuela. An advisor to the White House proclaims himself the owner of our oil and robs the Venezuelan people of more than 30 billion dollars in just a week ago while we were all discussing which article of the Constitution was applicable to the situation, and to avoid making the longest list, Mr. Trump, the highest leader of the aforementioned self-proclaimed individuals, also proclaimed himself the owner and lord of the natural resources, territories and settlers of the colony he calls Venezuela.
We have a true epidemic of self-proclamations.
What’s going on? How do you explain this nightmare? Let’s look at it item by item.
The self-proclaimed Venezuelan government approved the U.S. government’s dispossession of our people’s property for tens of billions of dollars. He accepted at face value the appointment made by a Senator Florida of an employee of a U.S. oil company as Venezuelan ambassador in this country. He also said that he was willing to authorize U.S. troops to invade Venezuela, and even a U.S. Congressman reminded him that U.S. military interventions can only be authorized by the U.S. Congress. In order not to make the list too long, the self-proclaimed defended the measures of economic asphyxiation against our people, for they produce the necessary suffering for the military to decide to support him in power.
The coup d’état is victorious in Washington, where everyone celebrates the plundering of our nation, but it has been a failure in Venezuela where the leader needs the protection of embassies of foreign governments, even to sleep.
In our country, one given day Washington’s puppet threatens the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to obey him; yet another day he accuses them of corruption and murder; then a third day he offers them amnesty and forgiveness; and a fourth day he bribes them. Finally, when everything fails, he ends up threatening to assassinate them with the U.S. armed forces. That is not the behavior of a Venezuelan President, that is the behavior of an agent at the service of a foreign power.
It is obvious that the puppet obeys orders from abroad, specifically from here in Washington. In Venezuela, the coup d’état failed and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, together with the people, are a guarantee of peace and freedom for the nation. From here we send you a message of pride. We are proud of our Armed Forces because they have resisted a wave, a psychological war, bribes, threats. Today they have just issued new sanctions, believing that a diplomatic visa is the supreme happiness of a Venezuelan General.
I am proud of my diplomats here at the OAS, who have had a war waged on them so that they switch sides. They have offered them money, visas. They have threatened them, but they have resisted. I am proud of my diplomats in the United States who have been threatened and bribed, but they have left for their homeland as it should be, the duty of a man and a woman who admires and respects their country. We are patriots, we are not traitors!
The failure of the coup is so clear that they have already abandoned the Constitution to justify their actions. Now their maximum law is a transitional statute that allows them to remain in power indefinitely. They have already approved it. Now they do not need elections and neither do they need to recognize other public powers. It is the pure and hard dictatorship that leaves all those who supported this atrocity without argument because they fought for a republic of laws. The purpose of this meeting, that you can’t hold elections in Venezuela and you have to let the puppet stand there for several years, because according to what we hear here the system is so bad that you have to end chavismo first, you have to get rid of all those people, everywhere, even the governors said the super expert, you have to get rid of all the governors to call an election. All the elections were bad, they were terrible, except where they won in the National Assembly, those were marvelous. They don’t realize the farce, what they are doing is justifying the dictatorship in Venezuela. They ran out of arguments because the coup failed, the coup in Venezuela doesn’t exist!
The coup d’état failed because in Venezuela its leaders do not pay a salary to anyone, they do not control one single police car, they do not issue identity cards, they do not open a school, they do not even produce a barrel of gasoline. It’s a pathetic, surreal fantasy, a fiction that serves to plunder its masters in the United States.
Because the true nature of what is happening is not a coup d’état, it is a project to convert Venezuela into a colony governed by local salaried workers, in the manner of Puerto Rico. These self-proclaimed are actually a U.S. representative office in Venezuela and not a National Government. That has always been the U.S. colonial model, unlike Europeans, they don’t send rulers from the metropolis but use their local employees as administrators. This is an attempt to reconquer Latin America as the backyard of the empire ruled by the most self-proclaimed: Donald Trump.
The real object of this whole process of aggression is loot, pillage and plunder. The biggest robbery in Venezuelan history occurred last week. Mr. Trump’s government robbed the Venezuelan people of at least thirty billion dollars in oil refineries, in bank accounts of the Central Bank of Venezuela and PDVSA, in debt bond transactions and I say no more for reasons of time.
Mr. Bolton, an advisor to the White House, states that he is already distributing oil concessions in Venezuela to U.S. companies. When our oil refineries were stolen, the first person to sit down with the company’s managers was not a Venezuelan: it was Mr. Bolton, the same man who today threatens India and other countries that buy oil from Venezuela. Mr. Bolton proclaimed himself colonial administrator of Venezuelan oil.
It is the Trump doctrine, who stated that he would only send his troops to other countries if fifty percent of the loot was stolen. I am not exaggerating; millions of people have seen this explained on social networks. It is the doctrine of war for oil, of greed, hatred and ambition.
The Trump doctrine is joined by other European countries. The Bank of England stole from the Venezuelan people more than 1.2 billion dollars in gold, simply because they can do it. No explanation needed.
With the return of the pillage and plunder of colonialism, confidence in bank deposits of all countries in the world in American and British banks is destroyed. The United States and the United Kingdom would steal the savings of the people if they would have the opportunity. It is the business of plundering and assaulting those who believe in their promises of neutrality and impartiality. International law and all contracts lose meaning when trap and greed is the moral basis of empires. It is the Trump Doctrine: the winner takes the spoils. At least 50%.
And with the greatest looting of our people in centuries, with gigantic theft accompanied by the most abject surrender we arrive at the infamous humanitarian crisis.
The propaganda machine hides the motives of the aggression, and the scale of the robbery concentrates on the humanitarian motives of the thieves who, now converted into some sort of Mother Teresas of Calcutta, feel an enormous concern for the suffering of Venezuelan people. We must thank the looters for offering us the crumbs from the loot they took.
By destroying the economic sources of the country, they inflict a massive violation of human rights of our people, generating chaos and maximum collective suffering. They use our people as hostages to destroy social peace and weaken the strength of the nation, this is a war of attrition.
The aggressors impose a narrative of humanitarian rescuers. They now want to overthrow the government because they have to save the hungry and sick that they themselves are producing.
If they really care about the needy, just returning the stolen would help immediately, but that is not the goal. Of the 30 billion dollars that were stolen, 30 million are announced to alleviate the effects of crime; that is an immoral and barbaric act and that is what they call “humanitarian aid.”
This is about a gigantic propaganda operation. The simplest solution is to eliminate the measures of foreign extortion against our people, but considering that it is about imposing a colonial government, the handouts must be given using foreign military force. In the same way, some gentlemen in Miami who proclaim themselves a court and who have already authorized a military invasion against their own country by the United States recognize this. They said it yesterday here in this building.
True humanitarian aid can only be neutral, independent, universal, non-political and delivered at the request of the recipient state. It can never be used for purposes of extortion or aggression, let alone to justify war. This trap is clearly seen by serious humanitarian organizations such as the international Red Cross or the United Nations, which have refused to participate in this propaganda operation because it attacks the essence of what endures humanitarianism in the world: trust, goodwill and peace.
If they want additional and definitive evidence of the perversity and immorality of this aggressive project, they find it in the fact that the person in charge of the U.S. operation today is exactly the same person who organized, in 1986, the clandestine shipment of weapons for the civil war in Nicaragua in airplanes camouflaged as humanitarian aid, sending weapons as if they were humanitarian aid to kill Nicaraguans.
There is no greater cynicism in the message they are sending to the world. They are the same actors, the same tricks, it is the same simulation of interest in those who suffer.
They are the same sickly messages that one day express interest in Venezuelan children and the next day they say that they are going to invade us to bring help. They are going to kill us to save us. They are going to bomb us to feed us. It is colonial humanitarianism that offers relief but ends up selling the war of conquest.
Yesterday President Trump declared a security and humanitarian emergency on his southern border. Does that mean he is going to send food and medicine to migrants approaching his border? No, he is going to build the wall for them.
Is it impossible to believe that those who put children in cages in the U.S. and build humiliating walls are sincere when it comes to Venezuelan children? If you want to help Venezuela, don’t threaten us with wars. Instead, give us back what you stole from our people.
Now, the last point. What’s going to happen now?
The failed coup removed the disguise of the colonial invasion. The self-proclaimed have no national fiber for the country to follow. Now they are desperate with coarser, more insolent, more strident threats. Stuck in the swamp of a delirious plan, they can only save it with increasingly dangerous and repugnant actions.
The first is the policy of calculated cruelty. They are going to treat Venezuela as a gigantic experiment in economic deprivation and wait for the country to burst inside and then appear as if they were the saviors. They believe that in a few weeks the national suffering will be intolerable and as a besieged city of antiquity the population will surrender on its own.
The second is even worse, while the moral, economic and military resistance capabilities of the nation are deteriorating and clandestine operations are being prepared to justify external military action, we know that there are secret military movements at this very moment, as we have denounced. I want to warn of two things: either US Ambassador Carlos Trujillo had supernatural powers of prediction several months ago when he announced that Colombia’s military forces were going to attack President Maduro, using the ELN as an excuse, that is, he listened to what the Colombian ambassador said today, with his marvelous powers, of a gifted man; or they are in a plan that they had known for several months. You tell me which one you prefer: whether the supernatural and mystical explanation or the secret, clandestine, cruel and miserable plan.
They are the horsemen of the apocalypse: hunger, war and death to obtain the conquest. All in the name of humanitarianism that conceals its cruel ambition.
Only twisted minds, souls poisoned with hatred and greed can design such vile and low plans. These are the works of criminal organizations and not of responsible governments. They are driving the region to the abyss while propaganda machines hypnotize international public opinion.
There is one last scenario: US public opinion itself can react and reject Trump, on its behalf, using its armed forces in colonial wars against countries on this continent, which has already declared the continent a zone of peace.
It is also possible that a peace movement will emerge that prevents the death traffickers, including the Secretary General who calls for war all the time, from deceiving the world in the name of their greed for oil and domination.
The nations of the region and of the world can decide to defend the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of the OAS itself and reject the military adventure of the supporters of the Trump doctrine, of the doctrine of 50%.
Our people also understand the existential danger they face and strengthen their patriotic conscience, women and men, civilian and military, from all regions and social origins, organize themselves into a powerful national movement for the salvation of the homeland and for peace. This reaction weakens the forces of destruction and leaves no room for those who initiated this dangerous adventure.
We are in the process of a second liberation of our homeland and we will not fail in our duty.
The head of State and Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, held a bilateral meeting with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer.
Foreign Minister Arreaza: Commander Chavez is a reference for the Revolution and the world left-wing
The Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza, on Sunday highlighted the wise, pertinent and timely decision of the world left-wing to make the XXV edition of the Sao Paulo Forum on Venezuelan soil.
This Saturday, at the end of the agenda’s activities of the Meeting of Local Governments and Participatory Democracy, in Caracas, the delegates from Latin America and the Caribbean held an exchange meeting and a summary of the day.
Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Ron Responds to Sanctions, Reports of Covert U.S. Activity, and Threats of Military Action
We begin today by getting the Venezuelan government’s response to a deluge of allegations leveled against the Maduro government by the Trump administration, by top Democrats including Pelosi, by the corporate media and by Venezuelan opposition figures who have asserted that they represent the legitimate voice of the Venezuelan people. Joining me now is Venezuela’s Vice Foreign Minister, Carlos Ron. He was named to his post by President Nicolás Maduro following the May 2018 elections. Vice Minister Ron, welcome to Intercepted.
Carlos Ron: Thank you. Pleasure being here.
JS: Let’s start with the way that the humanitarian crisis is being portrayed right now in Venezuela with U.S. politicians ranging from Nancy Pelosi right up to Donald Trump and U.S. media saying that Nicolás Maduro is blocking U.S. aid from entering Venezuela and therefore contributing to starvation and a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country. What’s your response?
CR: By definition, humanitarian crisis usually occurs after either a natural disaster or war where you know, people are cut off from food supplies and other important things that they need for basic survival. And this is not the case. I mean, in Venezuela, we do have an economic crisis, you know, but a country having economic problems doesn’t mean it’s in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. You see in other parts of the region, there are countries that have even more troubling problems with their economies and you don’t see a whole movement towards getting them aid and coming into the countries. There’s definitely a political intent into having some sort of PR stunt attack President Maduro by saying that he’s blocking something that we don’t even know what it is. I mean, nobody has talked to us directly and say “We’re bringing this type of aid.” I mean, you know, there’s usually protocols to do this. What type of aid are you bringing?
JS: Who blockaded the road?
CR: That’s an interesting case because there’s pictures running around and everybody seeing this huge bridge and then you see some sort of containers kind of blocking them. Well, that bridge has never been open. That bridge was actually built recently between Colombia and Venezuela. There’s another bridge that exists around the same place, which is open and it’s the bridge that’s being currently used and every day there’s flows coming in and out of Venezuela and Colombia. But they took the picture and again, trying to show that this is something that the government’s doing in order to block foreign aid from coming in.
JS: So just to be clear here because it’s being shown all over American media all the time — your position, what you’re saying the fact is is that that blockade on that bridge pre-existed. It was not a response to an aid convoy —
CR: That’s right.
JS: — And the bridge itself is not even in operation right now.
CR: It hasn’t been put to use yet and it was something that was already closed because it has an opened.
JS: But what was the position of your government, of the Maduro government, the government of Venezuela on what the U.S. says is $20 million in aid that they want to reach the Venezuelan people?
CR: When they started the conversation talking about $20 million in aid we lose sight of, that we are under our current blockade that at least every year, it has — you know, since maybe 2017 when the sanctions started being put into place — has, you know, taken about $23 billion per year of Venezuelan money. You know, it’s either frozen in some banks. It’s either, you know assets have been frozen from PDVSA. We can’t repatriate assets from Citgo which is a Venezuelan-owned company here in the United States. You know, it doesn’t make sense that you’re blocking 23 billion per year, but then you’re offering to help me with 20 million. I mean, how is that even possible?
JS: Right. Even some conservative estimates say that Venezuela is losing roughly $30 million a day in potential revenue because of the sanctions and we’re talking about a one shot, $20 million convoy that we don’t even know what’s in it.
CR: I mean we have to remember there’s historical precedence in here in our region of how you know, this movement plays out. In 1965, for example, there was a progressive government in the Dominican Republic. The United States didn’t like that government at the time. There was talk at the OAS —
JS: The Organization of American States.
CR: Organization of American States that you know, the Dominican Republic needed humanitarian intervention. And yes, you know, they brought some boxes with some food and 8,000 marines behind them and they took over and then, you know overthrew President Juan Bosch and occupied the Dominican Republic for years.
Newscaster: A three-man Junta has been named to rule the Dominican Republic as a rebel movement collapses. It was an attempt to reinstate exile President Juan Bosch and U.S. Marines were ordered into the country to protect American lives.
CR: So we know how this plays out. First thing they do, they talk about aid which is always insufficient and trying to create some chaos. And then after that, then you argue that you need an intervention, a military presence because you have to protect the aid and you have to protect the people that the aid is going to. And then at the end of the day, you end up invading and taking over the country. I mean, this is something we’ve seen play out.
JS: And Elliott Abrams himself, was a part of this in the 1980s. Abrams, of course, now the Trump administration’s point man, but he and Oliver North — and this is now a publicly-accepted fact — used the cover of humanitarian aid to smuggle weapons and other supplies to the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s. No one is denying that now.
CR: That’s why you have to pay attention about you know, organizations that actually take care of humanitarian aid around the world like the United Nations, like the Red Cross and they’re questioning this. The Red Cross says, you know humanitarian aid is something that needs to be impartial, neutral, universal, independent not politicized. And they said you know, this is not humanitarian aid and they made that distinction because they know there’s something else going on here. And that something else is every time the U.S. government speaks about this humanitarian aid, they make sure they send a message to the Venezuelan military and say, you know, the Venezuelan military should turn against Maduro and you know, get this aid to the people. So it’s actually a call for the military to turn against a constitutionally-elected president.
JS: There’s been reports and it seems that most of them are based on anonymous U.S. officials. But there are reports that U.S. representatives have been meeting with members of the Venezuelan military clandestinely. What information do you have about that?
CR: I wouldn’t be surprised too because you know ever since President Chávez came in in late 1990s. There has always been attempts to overthrow the government and there’s always been attempts from military to try to coordinate with outside interests and do this. There was an attempt, assassination attempt, back in August against President Maduro.
CR: Some of the people that were at least involved are either living in the United States, you know, we send the paperwork to see if they could get extradited and we can have a trial on some of these people. We’re still waiting for a response on that.
JS: Are you referring to the attempt to kill Maduro with a drone?
JS: You’re saying that Venezuela has identified suspects that it wants extradited from the United States?
CR: There were people caught around these events and that told us these people were involved. And so we’ve requested investigations on these people and to see if they could be extradited and put to trial in Venezuela. We’re still waiting to hear from them.
JS: So the U.S. has not responded at all to those requests?
CR: Nobody has been sent over for investigations. Nobody has been put into jail for any of these or at least questioned, as far as my knowledge.
JS: What about the appointment of Elliott Abrams as the point man right now? I mean, what’s the perspective of the Venezuelan government on Elliott Abrams being the lead party assigned to deal with Venezuela now?
CR: We’ve always maintained that we are willing to dialogue with anyone in the U.S. government. I mean President Maduro has repeatedly asked President Trump, you know, for a conversation. And we’re always open to dialogue as long as it’s respectful of our sovereignty and our self-determination. Anything, you know, pointing to another direction obviously is of concern. And you know, you have officials such as John Bolton as secretary of state, vice president, you know, saying very interventionist — using a lot of interventions rhetoric, calling for the military to rise against President Maduro, calling our elections, our political system illegitimate and it’s something very difficult to deal with. And that’s why President Maduro was faced with the option of breaking relations because it’s something that’s unacceptable.
JS: What can you tell us about the announcement by Venezuelan authorities that they had confiscated this cache of illegal weapons that were allegedly, according to the government, smuggled into Venezuela from Miami — There were assault rifles, explosive charges, radio antennas, latest generation smart phones that came in on a Boeing 767 cargo flight from the 21 Air company to Valencia airport?
CR: Well again, this is the sort of thing that tells you that there’s some intent of producing violence in Venezuela, of violent overthrow of the government. I mean investigations have to you know, run their course, but why would these weapons be you know coming into the country in a time such as this? We need to protect our people. We need to maintain our peace and you know, we’ll do whatever we need to do to be able to you know, to prevent these things from happening.
JS: What’s your position on Juan Guaidó? Right now, you have the United States, Canada, Germany, many Western countries are recognizing Guaidó and also, some of your neighbors in Latin America are saying “No, Juan Guadió right now is the legitimate president of Venezuela and he had the constitutional authority to be sworn in as the president.”
CR: Mr. Guaidó is a member of the National Assembly by the way, he was elected with the same electoral council that President Maduro was elected. And look, this is a part of the opposition that has seen their popularity deteriorate in the last couple months. And I think that they realized there was no way they could move forward but to attempt something very crazy as this — you know, proclaiming himself president, distorting, you know, Article 233 of the constitution. Article 233 of the constitution, basically it gives you like the order of succession when the president is somehow prohibited from assuming office because of death, because he resigns, because the Supreme Court impeaches him basically, because he’s medically or physically prohibited from carrying his duty, because he abandons the office of the presidency, or because his mandate is revoked by a recall referendum.
None of these things have taken place. And by the way, it’s unconstitutional just because the fact that, by constitution, the only body that interprets legally the constitution is the Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court. You know, we have five branches of government under our constitution and there’s one branch that is disputing the rest of them and that’s the National Assembly where Mr. Guaidó is. But also, I think it’s a huge mistake by other countries of recognizing this. I mean, there’s no precedent in history of such a move.
JS: Has Guaidó been able to effectively take control of any of Venezuela’s assets by having monies that are owed to the Venezuelan government deposited in other accounts? Do you have information about this?
CR: My understanding so far that hasn’t — I mean, it’s been talked and there’s been talk from the U.S. on that and that would obviously be theft to the Venezuelan people. That’s what it really would be because there’s no condition by the law, by the constitution where Guaidó would have any control over these assets so that would be illegal. It’s like being president of a country that doesn’t exist, you know and all these other right-wing conservative governments — pressured by the way, by the United States — are falling into line of this recognition where you know, again recognizing a non-existent government and being blind to a reality of you know, that affects 30 million Venezuelans.
JS: The United Nations estimates somewhere around 3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015. Your position — you meaning the Venezuelan government’s position — is that there is not a humanitarian crisis in the country that this is something that has been manufactured by policy. Why are these people fleeing the country?
CR: Like I said before and you know, we’ve had an economic crisis in the last couple years and that we’re not denying. I mean, that’s something that’s a reality.
JS: Entirely the fault of U.S. sanctions and intervention?
CR: And other things. I mean, the problem started with low prices of oil, for example in you know, around 2014. And you know, there are sanctions that are on paper that are very clear said, like for example, we can’t renegotiate debt which many other countries do and we can’t do that because of the sanctions. But there are other sanctions that actually take place without being on paper. I mean, for example, OFAC has issued warnings to the financial system in the U.S. that any money coming from the Venezuelan government may be money coming from corruption, money laundering, all these —
JS: This is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, just for people that don’t understand, which is a division of the Treasury Department that enforces sanctions including prosecuting American citizens, U.S. citizens, if they violate sanctions or blockades.
CR: Correct. And basically once you tell the banks to you know, to be careful Venezuela money, the result has been that you know, they don’t want to deal with money or they over comply is the term. So, those sanctions are really, you know, not only the ones that are written down that are clear-cut but though, you know, the over compliance — all of these issues are making everyday life for Venezuela much more difficult. So, going back to the issue of migration. Yes, some people have left because some of these conditions but again, you know, the numbers is something that we have to dispute. Because you know, you have people for example that leave you know by road and then they all go into Colombian and get counted once. Then they’ll go into Ecuador, and get counted again and then in Peru, and then you know, the same person gets counted three, four times —
JS: Do you dispute that number then?
JS: Wait, wait, wait, so you dispute the 3 million number?
CR: I think it’s something that we have to look at because we’ve asked many of these countries and this is why there’s a sort of hypocrisy in many of these conservative governments with regards to these issues because we’ve asked many of them to give us their data to try to see how we can find the solutions as well as, how we can help our citizens there because they have necessities too. I mean there’s consular attention that they need to get. I mean, there’s all these issues that we have to take care of and we’ve flown, you know over I think over 10,000 people back home already. So, we wanted to have the numbers and see you know, the information of what is it that’s out there and these countries won’t share them with us.
JS: The issue of U.S. military threat, is Venezuela prepared militarily for any kind of U.S. military incursion or financing or arming of groups that could try to stage an uprising against the Maduro government?
CR: Obviously, there’s a history here and especially it’s a history related to the people that are in charge of making these decisions. I mean, these are people that were tied to the Iraq war. I mean, when you see John Bolton coming out and speaking and saying it would be really important for American companies to go back to Venezuela and increase production and retake production, that mentality obviously is something that we’re concerned. Look, we don’t want war. I think, again, we believe in diplomacy. We’ll talk to whoever we need to talk to to avoid a war. I think our people are counting on — I mean I’m a diplomat and that’s our duty. I think we have a lot of pressure right now because I think it’s up to us to make diplomacy win, and that’s what we’re here after. But at the end of the day, you know, Venezuela has an armed force and besides the armed force Venezuela has, Venezuela has its people and they’re very proud people. They are very proud of their history. We’re not going to give in to any threat and we hope it never comes to that because we don’t want to see our people go through that suffering. But if we have to defend ourselves, we’re ready to do so.
JS: Every time the opposition or these various opposition groups hold a demonstration, we’re shown the images, but there also have been massive pro-government demonstrations, massive Chavista demonstrations, Bolivarian demonstrations that are not shown on the news. I bring this up because I want to ask you clearly there are significant numbers of Venezuelans that want you guys gone. It is not the case that there’s just like a handful of people in a corner. What is your strategy — you meaning the government — in reconciling? This isn’t about Leopoldo López or Juan Guaidó. Ordinary People are divided on this and I don’t mean to make it sort of like a both sides thing because I do think that the propaganda campaign is being waged against the Maduro crowd and against the Chavistas. But how do you reconcile — because it is a divided country — how can you possibly find a way forward given the way the gauntlet is thrown down now that it’s you’re either with Guaidó or you’re with Maduro?
CR: It’s a lively democracy. I mean, you have disagreements and that we have. So I think part of the way of reaching out is making things available for everyone without discriminating and the other thing is calling for dialogue. President Maduro has been a president that has called for dialogue with the opposition at least 400 times in you know, public television. And you know, and he’s sincere about this. The problem is that sometimes we don’t know which opposition to talk to because there’s many oppositions because they, you know, they don’t — it is difficult for them also, because they have different views, you know, to sit down and find a common voice. They’re encouraging proposals from other countries like Mexico, Uruguay and recently —
JS: The Vatican also.
CR: The Vatican. A couple days ago, there was the mechanismsin Montevideo was established to see if we can see both sides. And then talk about you know, how we could move forward, how we can end a divide, how we can you know, sort of solve the problems that we’re having in the country’s economic situation and other things.
JS: One of the points that people from the Venezuelan opposition or let’s just say opponents of Maduro’s government will make, they’ll say “Yeah, we realize most of the world and most Venezuelans never heard of Juan Guaidó before all of this happened, but everyone knows who Leopoldo López is and you, the government have had him either locked up or on house arrest and he would have been the person we wanted to rally behind but you have persecuted him. So we’re not going to participate in this because the man that Venezuelans most closely link to being the main face of opposition against Maduro is basically under either an imprisonment or house arrest.”
CR: Well, I think —
JS: Why is Leopoldo — where is Leopoldo López right now?
CR: He’s under house arrest and —
CR: Well because he led, he had a trial and on trial, he was condemned about, because of leading protests in 2014 that led to the death of at least 43 Venezuelans and it was incitement of violence. And if you would have had anybody here do the same thing, you know, there’s laws, the RICO laws and there’s other legislation here in the United States that does the same thing. I think it’s people that have always opted for violence instead of you know, playing the Democratic game because they know they don’t reach the average Venezuelan. That’s the thing. I mean people understand that the continent changed in the last 20 years. You know, people want more participation. People want to take — they want to take be taken seriously. People, you know that were excluded historically for the first time you know, were enfranchised and felt represented by people that govern them.
And so, now, you won’t — it’s very hard to find anyone who will willingly vote for the agenda, the neoliberal agenda that called for privatization, no public support for you know, welfare support for the communities. These are people that want to privatize higher education. These are people that want to privatize the health sector. These are people that don’t even want to have public schools, you know grammar schools, they can’t sell that anymore. So, once your project is not something you can sell on an election, then you have to find other ways and they go and they turn to violence and that’s what historically has been happening since 2014 from Venezuela. These people have been trying to obtain power by producing violence, by producing a coup, by having somebody assassinate the President, by having the United States intervene and take over and then make a mess.
Mr. Guaidó was elected to the National Assembly with 97,000 votes, I believe and in a party that is only represented by 14 members of the National Assembly. How is that more legitimate? How is that possibly more legitimate than a president who was re-elected in May of last year with over 6 million votes in an election of 9 million, where nine million people voted, I mean, 67 percent of the vote. I mean, we can’t let — it’s not even something that can be compared. That’s the thing, these are people whose political projects are not viable anymore and they’re trying to impose themselves by violence or by having somebody outside come in and put them in the government.
JS: We’re going to leave it there. Carlos Ron, thank you very much for joining us.
CR: Thank you. Pleasure.
JS: Carlos Ron is the vice foreign minister of Venezuela.
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