By Emmanuel Rincon*
The effort of different international news agencies to ignore the social and political complexity of the Venezuelan people, based on an ideological bias, in conjunction with a willingness to ignore the role of hunger and death and the crisis in general, has become repetitive and tedious.
The “self-proclaimed”, the “opposition leader”, the “opponent”, or dry “the Venezuelan Juan Guaidó”, are among the terms used by the BBC, AFP, Reuters, CNN, and DW (among other media outlets) to refer to interim president Juan Guaidó, who based on Articles 233, 333, and 350 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has assumed the Presidency of the Republic, in his capacity as President of the National Assembly, through an absolute absence of executive power, motivated by the lack of democratic conditions in the “elections” advanced by Nicolás Maduro and his political machinery in the middle of last year.
The reasons why more than fifty countries ignored this election have been repeated to the point of exhaustion: it is not only the manipulation and the clear favoritism of the CNE that has motivated this decision; it is the abundant evidence of political blackmail, the use of of the machinery of the state to proselytize, the elimination of parties and opposition candidates by different mechanisms, and the continued intimidation of civil society and the media by the government.
Currently, interim president Juan Guaidó is recognized by more than 60 nations, including three of the five that are part of the Permanent Security Council of the United Nations. His mandate, in addition, is endorsed by the Organization of American States, and even then there are media outlets that dare to continue calling him the “self-proclaimed” president. This is no longer stupidity, lack of context, impartiality, or professional discretion, it is just a mockery attenuated to the struggle for freedom: it is a clear biased rant that has nothing to do with the human rights urgently needed and demanded by Venezuelans.
The current ideological war has a maximum adversary: Donald Trump, president of the United States. From Washington, the president launched a campaign against the media, calling them promoters of “fake news” and declaring that they misinform the American people. The reprisals against him have been clear: they have tried to undermine or destroy any initiative by the Trump administration. It should be noted that we the Venezuelans are not for or against Trump, we are not following an ideological line, we are not in a left versus right struggle. Venezuelans only want freedom, dignified living conditions, and to consolidate a state that protects the interests of all, to reunite our families and feed them, nothing more.
Within the international media, a campaign has been launched to suggest that everything that happens in Venezuela is a crisis provoked by the United States to seize Venezuelan oil. Apparently, Venezuelans support this “because we are too ignorant and do not understand what is happening in our own country, so we need foreigners and international media to tell us.”
To put this in context, we Venezuelans have been surviving a communist government for 20 years, which has brought the existence of extreme poverty to levels never before seen in the region. We are earning a minimum wage of less than USD $6 per month (yes, not per day, but per month). All this, combined with serious corruption, torture, and murder by state forces. That’s what we are fighting about, not if Donald Trump is a good president or not.
The media have tried to make us understand that we Venezuelans do not have the capacity for analysis, that we do not know what is convenient for us, that our reality is not as complex as we think (everything is just a product of our perverted deceived minds), and once more are insistent: everything has been hatched from Washington, and we are mere lackeys of imperialism.
Did those media or “opponents” know that the United States has been Venezuela’s largest trading partner for several decades? Did they know that it is the only country that pays Venezuela’s oil at the prices agreed by OPEC? Did they know that Cuba, Russia, China, Turkey, Bolivia, Nicaragua, among other countries, receive and have received from Venezuela in recent years, mining and petroleum products at ridiculously subsidizes prices, or even for free? Gifts and commercial agreements based on ideologies is what has led to the destruction of the Venezuelan oil company, and in turn that of the country, not the malign dollars that the US government has paid for years to the Venezuelan state.
The sanctions, to which “political analysts” and some networks attribute the cause of the Venezuelan crisis, have only existed for a couple of months. The sanctions that have been carried out since 2015 have been directed exclusively to operators of the regime, in a personal capacity. They did not involve the state. And the Venezuelan crisis began long ago, more than twelve years ago, when the meat and milk began to disappear from the supermarkets, because Hugo Chávez decided that it was better to expropriate the land from “the landlords” and leave it in the hands of the state; or when he decided arbitrarily to start “regulating prices” at will, so that “people could buy”, without understanding that every company has a cost structure that must be respected for its proper functioning, or when they started printing banknotes in a desperate fashion to boost public spending for the convenience of their political and electoral interests, causing one of the most rampant hyperinflations in the history of mankind. It was there that the crisis began, with the bankruptcy and expropriation of companies, with the immense corruption that allowed the theft of billions of dollars by government associates, heralded the end of legal security for businessmen, with severe limitations on obtaining foreign currency, with the failed labor legislation that always blames the employee and allowed him to slap his employer and not work if he felt like it, incapacitating his boss to dismiss him; that was what generated the shortage and impoverishment of the Venezuelans, that was what caused the blackouts, the apathy and the exodus, not individual sanctions on government leaders.
Recently, journalist Will Grant of the BBC interviewed interim president Juan Guaidó, giving a clear example of his attempt to cover up the failed policies of the Venezuelan regime, and trying to imply that the clamor of 90% of the Venezuelans, is just a fallacy invented in Washington to intervene Venezuela. Here are some of the questions:
One: The government has opened an investigation against you for sabotage against the country’s electricity system. Were you or any of your supporters involved in this blackout?
Two: But you must admit that there is a strange coincidence here, quite suspicious: you return from a regional tour and suddenly the light goes out, days after your return. And, of course, the United States has done things like that in the past: in Guatemala, in Chile with Allende, in Cuba, in Panama. Is Washington behind this?
Three: That said, Washington’s clear goal is Nicolás Maduro’s exit from power, that’s the goal, and they’re supporting you in that effort. And nothing is going to stop them in their effort to achieve it.
To all this, Guaidó responded “it is not an attempt. I am interim president of Venezuela because that’s what the Constitution says. And the main support I have is that of the people in Venezuela.” However, that was not the end. Will Grant continued:
Four: But not yet completely. You will surely recognize that you have not been elected as president.
Five: You use the term usurp, call them usurpers. But they say exactly the same thing about you, that you claim the presidency, that you proclaimed yourself president. And if he wants to bring Maduro’s sympathizers on your side, that’s a problem, it causes a legitimacy problem, right?
Six: We have seen the problems in Venezuela during the last few days: the lack of electricity, of water. But how would military intervention help solve them? Don’t you think it would make things worse, that it would be like putting gasoline on the fire?
Seven: I assume you saw the report in the New York Times that suggests that the burning was not the fault of Maduro and his family, but the result of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails.
Eight: We see the people that support you include President Duque of Colombia, President Bolsonaro of Brazil, and obviously President Trump. What kind of president would you be if you came to Miraflores? Is it fair to judge you by those kind of friends? Would you govern like them?
That kind of friends? What does Will Grant mean by this question? Is this a matter of ideologies or realities? Is it a matter of politics or human rights? Would it be that the needs of Venezuelans are ideological? Would it be that hunger, corruption, and death are only harmful if caused by a right-wing government? Is it not enough that more than 300,000 Venezuelans have been killed by the underworld under the Chavista administration? Is it not irrefutable proof that more than three million Venezuelans have had to leave the country? Is it that all their testimonies are truncated? Is it that all our minds are damaged? Is it that we are not virtuous enough to understand the “goodness of Chavez” and they do? Is it that all our suffering has been a product of our imagination?
Apparently, we Venezuelans live in the Matrix, one created by imperialism in order to make us believe that our lives under communism are miserable. Yeah sure. Maybe we have been so foolish that we had not noticed, that, yes we live in The Matrix, they are the ones who really know what it is like to live in Venezuela, they are the ones who know what it is to be Venezuelan, now everything makes sense.
I apologize for this outburst and wasting your time with this article; clearly, my mind has been manipulated the entire time. “Homeland and socialism, or death! We will live and we will win!”
*Emmanuel Rincón is a Venezuelan lawyer and writer, and the author of five novels.