il manifesto exclusive interview with Nicolás Maduro
After a tough defeat in national elections Sunday, il manfesto met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. We asked about the future of Venezuela now that the opposition has taken power after 17 years of leftist government.
This is the only country in the Southern Hemisphere where the army — here in the political formula of “civic-military union” — went beyond nationalism, joining together with humanist socialism. In the new government, how will the armed forces perform? Will they be back firing on protesting crowds like in the Fourth Republic?
The civic-military union grows stronger every time there is a difficulty. It was so during the coup against Chavez in 2002 and during the oil lockout that tried to bring down the Bolivarian revolution. And a lot of the common people, who had marched against Chavez without understanding that they were moving toward a coup, later demanded to return the government to its president, on Apr. 13.
Here are the protagonists: Vladimir Godfather Lopez, the current defense minister, who in 2002 was commander of Battalion Bolívar. These are the guys of the 11th, 12th and 13th of April. We are those of Feb. 4, 1992, the Caracazo of February ‘89, and Apr. 13, 2002. For every 11th, follows the 13th. We are forever Apr. 13, a civic-military union in the country, sons of Chavez, heirs of Bolívar … and of Lenin. Even Trotsky, why not? I won’t add Stalin, otherwise some comrades will strangle me.
The periods in which certain armed factions of the Republic were at the service of outside interests, of the plans of the IMF, of privatization, to plunder our resources, no longer have historical legitimacy.
What will happen now to Venezuela’s strategic alliances, which have given momentum to Latin America? Will ALBA and Petrocaribe be destroyed?
We must prepare for an earthquake of devastating proportions, already announced by the entrepreneur Mauricio Macri in Argentina. The Venezuelan right is governed by Washington and the International Monetary Fund, which will unfortunately return. It wants to destroy all cooperation agreements with Petrocaribe, causing a humanitarian catastrophe. It wants to reset relations with China, with Russia and with the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean to cancel the new independence of the continent. They want to distort the MERCOSUR, the UNASUR, destroy the ALBA.
But we are here to deal with it. We are the party of difficulty. We are in the same trench across the continent.
The United States Southern Command has already announced its plans. Every 50 years, declassified documents show Washington’s destabilizing strategies put in place in other historical situations: Guatemala, Brazil, Chile. The younger generations will confirm what we are denouncing about economic war and about the powers that wage media war. John Kerry believes he is the governor of Venezuela [and] intervenes at every turn in the internal politics and sovereignty of our country, as he did in this election, even against the interests of his own people, whose relations with Bolivarian Venezuela have never been so close.
Worldwide, movements on the left have expressed solidarity with Bolivarian socialism and are now wondering about the fate of the revolutionary process, but also about the mistakes committed. Where to concentrate the critical analysis and, afterward, the solidarity?
I am infinitely grateful for the expressions of affection received. The objectives of the Bolivarian revolution are those of all people fighting for freedom and peace with social justice. Let us question ourselves together with greater determination.
We have lost a battle. An election, while important, is only one battle in a more general project of transformation. We will continue along with our people. We will also seek dialogue now especially with those groups who let themselves be persuaded by the lies of the right and who will now learn the hard way the kind of “change” the opposition clamored for.
Many of them have not known the true face of these rights in the Fourth Republic and believe that the rights gained with the Bolivarian revolution are untouchable. But they are not, and that will soon be evident.
International solidarity will always be with the Bolivarian revolution on the issues that unite us: the freedom of women and diversity, freedom of expression, opposition to war and for the independence of people.
We are here, we are not willing to surrender. For this, I put my life at stake.
–> Originally published in Italian at il manifesto on Dec. 10, 2015
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