After six years of a madurista government, the wrecking of the work of President Chávez and, with it, the destruction of the country is more evident than ever before. I remember at the beginning of maduro’s first term that the “creators” of the madurismo repeated that “nicolás cannot have anyone near that could overshadow him”, that “he is now the boss”, that “he needs his own room for action”, his “own decisions”, he “needs to control it all”, among other fictional pieces of advice made up by the group taking up power. They needed a government for themselves; they created a “circus” where he could be head and shoulders above everyone else, where the master could stand out. They accomplished so; they displaced the Chavistas from power, at least the ministers that were part of Chávez government, one by one, each of us was kicked out. We did not realize at the time, always as loyal as we were to the oath of unity sworn before Chávez, such treachery like no other to Commander Chávez and to the people. Treason that was planned from the very first moment there were clear signs of the president’s disease.
Maybe they had privileged information and had the international support of those with greater influence in the last stage of the president’s life, evidently affected by such a consuming disease. Whatever the motivation, they got well prepared for the absence of the Commander. Meanwhile, Chávez’ ministers, and I speak for myself and a few others, work tirelessly to keep the country running, as we did, to help the Commander, with the best hopes for his recovery and return to the government, while others advanced their own plans for controlling power, taking stances, making agreements with businessmen, “building bridges” towards a transition. What it was always known as the “Chavismo without Chávez”, hidden till then in the corners of the Casa Amarilla and other spaces, among businesspeople and “spiritual guides”, as well as resented people to whom the Commander himself had cast aside, just like many others, saw in maduro the inconsistencies of what they would get without major efforts: an instrument to promote their own political and economic model, a regression of the socialism and Chávez Homeland Plan. A very characteristic aspect of President Chávez presidency was that he was always ahead of the human group that followed him, his party, and his government. Chávez was revolutionary with deep nationalist roots. Set in the military field and filled with the Bolivarian ideals, he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the people, leading the insurgence of February 04, 1992. Once he became Head of State, studious as he was and with the humility of recognizing his limitations, but with an iron will to solve the grave issues that plagued the country, his political ideal took giant strides, thus making great progress. He went from a miquelenista type of government to “capitalism with human face” and to a “third way”, only to realize that our nation was such a backward and dependent country, with such intolerant and violent elites that were not even willing to accept a reformist government.
Then the coup, the oil sabotage, the elitist violence, and the international factors came into play; all of which made him understand many things. The relationship and long conversations with Commander Fidel and other world leaders allowed him to tune in his very own response to help the country. There and then is when the President began to make a series of decisions and definitions which, in the end, enabled him to better define his objectives and take steps to start solving effectively the problems the nation faced.
First of all, he understood the importance of oil, of PDVSA; he recognized Venezuela as an oil country and we went on to the quest to conquer that mountain, taking control of the oil revenues to put them at the service of the people. He then defined our revolution as anti-imperialist and raised the flags of the socialism of the XXI century. Later on, the Homeland Plan and his historic objectives came to be, a document that constitutes the most shattered part of his legacy.
But not all his followers supported his ideals; he was joined by the same rightist and nationalist lieutenants or captains, the remains of the miquilenismo. He was joined by the same sectors of the old leftist group and with the “best” of the Fourth Republic. Therefore, the President understood that he needed to urgently transfer the power to the people, breathing life on the new political categories enshrined in the Constitution, such as the Participatory and Protagonist Democracy and the People’s Power. It was necessary to give power to people, open the political debate, give room to the freedom of thought, the alternative media, the 3R; he thus created the PSUV as an instrument of transformation, the main challenger of the government, at the forefront of the revolution.
Within the government, and for the same diversity of groups and characters that he dealt with since the beginning, President Chávez relied on varying levels of support and political commitment, as well as with different levels of performance efficiency and he was well aware of this.
In terms of oil, he had our full and unwavering support and, since we were aware of the strategic value of the sector, we made progress to break the links of dependency and leave the backwardness of the country behind. We deployed the Full Oil Sovereignty Plan, we dismantled the nefarious “oil opening policy”, which expropriated our wealth; we regained control of our resources and company. We turned oil into an instrument of liberation of our people and PDVSA, that redder than red, into a national and deeply popular company, the fifth most important in the world, capable of exploiting and developing our vast oil and gas resources and put them at the service of the people, just as we did and as the entire nation can attest, for over ten years of prosperity and social development.
Therefore, I always counted on his support; I was the minister who lasted the longest with him in the government, twelve years to be exact, not because I was from the military or from Barinas or for whichever reason. I accompanied him for twelve years because I was one of the very few ministers who shared his ideas and political postulates, but I also did so accurately and efficiently, obtaining undeniable success and results and the most important and strategic sector of the country: oil and PDVSA. A sector that paved the way for him to develop his social and economic approach; otherwise, his administration would have not lasted long. Hence, when the madurismo implies the opposite, it is not only blatantly lying but also makes president Chávez look like a dumbass.
Chavismo without Chávez
In other ministries or sectors, such political commitment was nowhere to be found. That is why they “dragged their feet around”, they are the reason why the government did not advance at Chávez pace, they never did, they crouched, and they tried to become invisible. There are ministries, institutions and State-owned companies where the revolution never came; nothing was ever done to break the chains of dependency, to help build socialism; and the President knew this too, because of this, he casted them aside or simply ignored them, focused as he was in the problem as a whole.
Such were the sectors that always tried to “moderate Chávez”; those that suggested moving “little by little”, because it was “too soon” to speak of socialism. They were the ones who pretended to attenuate the revolutionary discourse. They were relegated to a second stage by Chávez, where they hid in the National Assembly or in the party, but always devising plans with the boldness that only the ambitious is able to display, out of the sight of the Commander: the Boston Group, the crooked intellectuals and “Frenchified” thinkers that populated the Foreign Ministry, the “ex” that wallowed in the resentment, the business people who were always part of large business deals and who were “there” helping and improving the lives and privileges of the “cautious”, always with a “plan B”, their plan without Chávez.
It is precisely this sector, the “Chavismo without Chávez”, the “endogenous right”, which took over power with maduro. They are the ones that have destroyed with great cruelty the work of the Chavista government: the participatory and protagonist democracy, the People’s Power, PDVSA, the State-owned companies, the social Missions, the economy, the institutions, everything. There is nothing left and, consequentially, the country has plunged into a total collapse.
Such a power group, in addition to being extremely greedy, has been very incompetent and corrupt; that is why the country is completely out of their control. They never built anything from the ground or worked a single day; they lack preparation as well as political and human qualities. The country is in shambles. Everything they touch turns to “ashes”.
Because of this, they have resorted to violence. They first openly directed it against the opposition sectors, which threw their youth onto the streets to be slaughtered in the guarimbas, while they remained safe, always thinking of violence as a way to seize power. There were about 200 people dead as a result of political violence on the streets, an unprecedented event in our history. The dialogue held in the Dominican Republic gave way to the impunity in exchange for ending the protests on the streets. The victims still await justice.
But the violence now is systematic, structured; it is now a policy of the State, designed to impose fear and hold onto social control. It is violence of the State, which translates into the violation of human rights of all Venezuelans, as it has been registered and documented today and for history by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and; clearly portrayed in Bachelet’s Report issued last July 4, a report that has been attacked by the coup-plotting extreme right and the madurismo.
The madurismo vociferates, shouts, insults, and attacks the former President of Chile and the UN. They organize demonstrations to repudiate Bachelet. It is the same tactic carried out by Morocco against the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he mentioned the rights of the Saharawi people, or what Israel does against the UN when the reports denounce the repression against the Palestinian people. Although they are clearly different cases, it is the same reaction. Why, instead of lashing out against Bachelet and the UN, the madurismo, the NCA, the prosecutor’s office, the ombudsman, or the so-called leftist intellectuals who speak in favor of maduro, do not stop to think, how it is possible that there are, according to the figures provided by the government itself, 6,856 deaths for “resisting the authority” of police officers in the neighborhoods? Do such a high number of deaths call anyone’s attention? How long has it been since any of them has been to the neighborhood ravaged by FAES to hear what the people say? Why does a masked, scot-free police force deserve credibility? Is such a massive figure an isolated case or is it part of a policy of the State?
On the other hand, in the Fourth Republic, it was considered a crime when tortured people were murdered, but in the end, the bodies of the victims were returned to their families for the proper burial, unless it was one of the many missing persons. Why remaining silent before the torture of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo and the fact that his body was neither returned to his family nor were they allowed to have a wake and give him a proper burial? His captors buried his body eight days after his death, and so they did with the body of Oscar Pérez and his group. Why is such a cruel practice being imposed? What are they hiding?
The report presents a great deal of data and documents so many human rights violations that evidences more than a reasonable doubt about the performance of the government and its police forces regarding torture and all kinds of abuses, the complicit conduct of the public prosecutor and the judiciary. This report would be enough for a debate on the issue to be held in any normal country and to take action. However, and rather paradoxically, the children of yesterday’s victims, who are now ministers, believe more in the police than in Bachelet’s report. It is truly incomprehensible. The Bachelet report, regardless of what the madurismo does, is out there and it will continue to be discussed at the United Nations. Let us hope that someone in the government pays attention.
This human group, the madurismo, is the one negotiating in Barbados. The other group, voluntad popular, is no better than the madurismo. It is equally intolerant and violent, but it has not had the chance to seize power. There is a serious legitimacy issue in those negotiations. The sectors that negotiate, behind the back of the country, do not represent the majority of Venezuelans and certainly do not have the citizens’ trust.
Even though the political negotiation is the right path towards solving issues, in this case, the negotiators do not represent the country. They have granted themselves such role, ones because they have the force of arms, the others because they have international support; but none of them have popular support. The lack of participation of Venezuelans is the underlying issue of these secret negotiations. The efforts carried out by Norway and the countries of the group of friends, among which Sweden, Italy, Mexico, and Uruguay, are commendable. They are not the problem, as neither is Bachelet; the problem is internal, it is among Venezuelans.
A new pact is being negotiated in Barbados. Faced with the madurismo failure and the collapse of the country, he is desperately seeking a negotiation that allows him to stay, to coexist with the rightist factors in an unpredictable political future, in a country they destroyed themselves; one in which they demolished all the columns that gave it stability and governability, a chaotic State where their economy, their psyche, and values have taken over. It is a negotiation among capitalists, neither the Chavismo nor the serious opposition is represented, none of the economic and social conquests of the Bolivarian era are considered, under any circumstance, and much less the Full Oil Sovereignty, the control over PDVSA, the Constitution, the Homeland Plan, and the socialism.
Maduro negotiates while in dire straits, as he tries to find a personal way out for him and his people. He knows that it will end badly, there cannot be any other way, and he uses the Chavismo and the Bolivarian Armed Forces to reach a solution, to maintain some sort of political presence in the country, something that allows him to survive. The extreme right is in Barbados due to its inability and overt failure in overthrowing the government, its intolerance and sectarianism prevent it to understand the FANB, and it is unable to gather trust and to mobilize enough people to seize power as they wanted and promised their political and economic mentors.
On the other hand, the United States and Russia have engaged in conversation and support Norway’s efforts. They have instructed their factions in the country to sit down in the negotiating table. Thus, as if by magic, both sectors, apparently confronted and incompatible, managed to sit down, negotiate, make agreements. They do so because, deep down, they have no significant differences.
Let us see what maduro is really doing and what the right is promising to do in its “Plan País”: hand over the oil and privatize PDVSA; privatize the State-owned companies: the basic and service companies, everything; reverse all the nationalizations and invite the transnational sector to take over the control of our strategic sectors, oil, gas, energy, communications, transport, natural resources, gold, coltan, among other minerals. For this purpose, they will have to modify the Constitution and the laws. Maduro does it in reality, through his illegal decrees and laws acclaimed by the NCA; the right will do it in the new pact, from within the power.
Maduro has crushed the social programs of the Revolution; simply, there are no educational missions, no health missions, no food missions, and not even the Great Missions. He has only maintained the degrading mechanisms of social control, the Clap boxes, and monopoly money given in the homeland card. The right has no interest in reviving them; they consider them expensive and fear popular organization. In the pact, they will agree on aid measures of capitalist austerity enabled in economic crisis.
However, there are economic elements of conflict. The very first of which is the transnational interests. The United States claim their presence and economic dominance of the oil sector and strategic companies; therefore, the economic chief is from the right, he is the former leader of CAP’s package and the architect of the oil opening. The extreme right delegation is always accompanied by someone who represents such interests. The Russians and Chinese demand to maintain everything accomplished with maduro: oil, gas, telecommunications, gold, coltan, and even fishing.
Another element of conflict is the economic situation. Maduro already imposed a package, destroyed the social and economic conquests, and swept away the costs of the workforce. Hyperinflation has expropriated the workers’ labor and savings. It is an ideal world to impose an unscrupulous, brutal, and dependent capitalism. The problem is that maduro’s incompetence does not allow him to organize anything. That is the moment when the right enters into play. Our homeland is being auctioned from abroad. Each factor has identified which sector of the economy they will take over, but they have not agreed yet how to control the unleashed demons during this period: hyperinflation, dollarization, monetary policy, shortages.
That is why the negotiation is secret. No one knows what is being agreed upon in the new pact. It is all rather confusing.
It seems that he has finally understood that he is part of the negotiation. Maduro has led him to endorse everything he has done, from within the NCA, from within the PSUV, he has supported what maduro has done with PDVSA, with the economy, with his fellow government companions, with his own comrades-in-arms. One of them, Major General Rodríguez Torres, who has been kidnapped by the government, has gone on a hunger strike, and he is not even kind enough to speak up in defense of the personal integrity and rights of his 4F companions. Now he resists to the negotiation, kicks the table, is out of tune with his show, claims there will be no elections, contradicts anything maduro says, but, at the same time, tries to find his own space.
Each of us is free to make their own political decisions and assume the consequences before history, and that has to be respected. But what no one can do is lie. Diosdado went to Havana, the Cubans do not clearly understand what this pact is going to lead to, and affirmed to Prensa Latina, that I was the leader of an “economic sabotage” against the country from within PDVSA, and that during my time at the front of the company the oil production was of two million one hundred thousand barrels per day. You are blatantly lying, Diosdado.
I have never led any sort of sabotage or attack against my country, not now, not during maduro’s government, and much less during President Chávez administration. Once again, he is being belittled.
What you say, Diosdado, is not only a lie that can be broken down by reviewing the production figures of OPEC itself, whose chart you can find below, as well as it is clearly reflected in the PDVSA audited reports and public audiences only during my term as president, because such auditing was done neither before nor after the end of December 2013. It is evident that we handed over the industry with a production of three million ten thousand barrels of oil per day. Go on, check the chart, and review what you have said yourself, take a look at yourself so you can stop lying.
Your lie is also shameful because you, and the entire government, know well the efforts that we undertook from PDVSA to sustain the country during the revolutionary period. We carried out significant efforts to provide the government of Commander Chávez with 500 billion dollars in a ten-year period. If that was not the case, where do you think the resources to maintain the government social programs came from? Where did the resources for the ministries? You yourself were the minister of infrastructure and received large amounts of that money; you were governor of Miranda state and, what did you do with the funds you were given? You talk about Commander Chávez and lie. I could say what Commander Chávez said about you after you lost the governorship and were pushed aside. But I will not because I respect his trust. On that same 2014, as I promised maduro, we gave him 45 billion dollars, I handed them to fleming, malpica, and zerpa, for them to do I do not know what with such massive amount of money. That is when the economic downturn began. They already came up with the idea of corruption; they already chased and kidnapped anyone that could say something. No one believes them.
I wish Prensa Latina would give me the right to reply, it is the least I deserve after successfully presiding over the Joint Commission Cuba-Venezuela for over 10 years. Sometimes, I get the impression that the Cuban leaders are trying to bestow some sort of epic or heroic character to maduro’s government. It does not have it, fellow companions. The period of the Bolivarian Revolution the Cuban people recalls with affection and solidarity is that of Chávez. This, with maduro, is not a revolution that deserves the support of your noble people.
The country continues to stumble around, our nation is sinking, and the elites negotiate behind the backs of the people. It will be necessary to summon the opinion and participation of the people to resurface from the abyss. Such crisis can only be faced with the people, putting the ultimate interests of the homeland above any petty interest, with our Constitution, out Full Sovereignty, our Homeland Plan, with Chávez.