For Juan Guaidó, 38, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, recognized as “interim president” of the country by almost 50 nations, insists on the resumption of the dialogue that has been suspended by Nicolás Maduro since October last year to reach an agreement leading to free and democratic presidential and parliamentary elections.
“They owe us since 2018. That is why the date of 2024 is an entelechy of Maduro with which he wanted to tie us, it is not something fixed because it can be before if the pressures work”, he confesses in his office in Caracas of Voluntad Popular (VP), a party founded by Leopoldo López, currently in exile in Spain.
Guaidó lives moving from one place to another, campaigning in Venezuela and juggling to avoid the persecution to which he is subjected by Maduro. He resembles Volodimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian president who lives in hiding to evade Vladimir Putin’s attacks. But after talking with Joe Biden, he receives Clarion.
Guaidó appreciates the call from the president of the United States, Joe Biden, a few hours before landing in Los Angeles to attend as host this Wednesday at the Summit of the Americas.
Both Guaidó and Biden spoke for 17 minutes aboard the US presidential plane.
-What did you discuss with President Joe Biden besides official business?
-First we talk about the official, it is the most important thing, about Venezuela and the dictatorship, the National Assembly elected in 2015 as president in charge, strengthening the mechanism of dialogue in Mexico, the sanctions and what has been the support for emigrants Venezuelans, the defense of democracy in a very positive way. I appreciate your phone call to strengthen the democratic establishment in the region. Then we compare Ukraine with Venezuela. In Ukraine the bombs destroy but in Venezuela they destroy the infrastructure equally without bombs.
“In Ukraine the bombs destroy but in Venezuela they destroy the infrastructure equally without bombs.”
-How do you explain that in Venezuela there are two governments, yours and Maduro’s, and neither was invited to the summit?
-Here there is no government but a dictatorship. That is relativizing and trivializing evil, and there is a government in charge of a dictatorship fighting for free and fair elections to recover democracy. That relativization that Mexico makes is what harms democracy and disturbs.
-Is there any inconsistency in the US government in oxygenating Maduro while approving licenses for oil companies such as Chevron, Repsol, Eni and Total de France to operate in Venezuela, while saying that it will not lift or calibrate the sanctions?
-No, the sanctions remain, what the US has approved are letters and not licenses, the so-called “comfort letters” in English, which are not conditioned to dialogue in Mexico.
The “bubbles” of Maduro
-If the US is the owner of the sanctions and has taken certain steps or concessions to oxygenate the regime, such as allowing oil multinationals to operate in the country, what has Maduro given in return?
-What Maduro has given in return is to generate some bubbles in high-level socioeconomic zones, with casinos, bodegones, exclusive tourism, hotels and luxury life for an elite of “boligarcas or bolichicos”, supported by 5% of a population plugged inwhere 94.5% of Venezuelans live in poverty.
Juan Guaidó affirms that Maduro heads “a neoliberal dictatorship.” Photo: AP
-Maduro’s is a soft capitalist and neoliberal dictatorship…
-It is a neoliberal dictatorship that delivers the wealth of Venezuela to the mafias of Iran, Turkey, Russia and China to stay in power.
-Are the mafias taking advantage of the economic opening?
-Paradoxically, the sanctions have allowed this deviation of the economy, what they call a “dead cat” (jumps) in economic evolution. The sanctions have allowed the emergence of a bubble economy, that of mafias and tribes.
– Is that sector enough to prop up Maduro economically?
-No, in no way because the vast majority are left out of recovery. What we see in Venezuela is not only a distortion but an inequality of the economy, we have a very accentuated extreme poverty that has nothing to eat, child malnutrition, and there is a small leadership, and a layer of entrepreneurs who survive.
-Under these conditions, why is Maduro going to a dialogue if he doesn’t need to because he doesn’t care about the conditions in which Venezuelans live?
-That is a good question. In truth, Maduro does not care what Venezuelans say. Theirs is to stay in power at any cost with a clandestine economy.
-What has the pressure of sanctions been for if Maduro has not yet been removed from power?
-It is the dictatorship of Maduro, a dictatorship in a failed state.
-But does Maduro not care about being a dictator and clings to power and as long as he has no reason he will not go to dialogue with you?
I get asked that a lot. There is a small allied sector that pressures Maduro to survive.
-The pressure of the sanctions have served to go to the dialogue?
-We hope that the diplomatic pressure, the pressure for a fair and free election, the pressure for clear parliamentary elections will serve. It is the sum of all the pressures going in that direction. We are aware that Maduro is not interested in the well-being of Venezuelans.
-What is preventing the dialogue from resuming in Mexico?
-It is the retaliation of the Maduro regime. It is their mafias that sabotage the dialogue to survive.
-Does Maduro try to evade all sanctions to stay in power?
-That is what the Chavista regime intends but it is very difficult to bypass the sanctions. We are in the presence of a failed State where it is very difficult for an international company to make investments without guarantees.
-How are the opposition primary elections going for the 2024 elections?
-We are campaigning for a unitary candidate.
-Doesn’t it seem like a chimera of a unitary candidate when we have María Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles with other opinions?
-It is not a chimera because in other years, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 we have had unitary candidates without problems.