National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup gave an interview with Semana in which he talked about the opposition’s resurgence in the country’s political landscape since becoming a majority at the legislature earlier this month. Semana points out that despite the PSUV mantra “no volveran!” [They will never return to power!], it appears that the opposition has in fact returned. When asked this question, Allup answered:
It’s not that we’ve returned. It’s that we never left. These types of so-called revolutions have lots of names for things and lots of symbolism. I remember that during his first electoral campaign, Chavez talked about “frying the heads of [Accion Democratica supporters, the party to which Allup belongs] in lard”. Afterwards, I’d always joke, “either we need more lard or there are too many heads”.
Below, a selection of questions and answers from the interview, the full version of which can be found here:
Semana: What can – or will – the Venezuelan deputies do about the border with Colombia, a topic that affects both sides?
Allup: It’s no secret that the Chavez government abandoned that large stretch of land, and that he had connections with the narco-terrorist guerillas [the FARC]. That turned into a (…) highway through which drugs produced in Colombia could go out to international markets, the production and traffic of which was protected by the FARC and the ELN, which are now trying to reach an agreement with the Colombian government. I hope they do.
Semana: And for now, the border will remain closed?
Allup: The power to take that sort of measure rests with the government. If the government mismanages economic policies, mismanages farms, mismanages foreign relations, then what we’re living through in Venezuela happens.
Semana: On January 5, when the National Assembly was being sworn in, you said you would think about “an exit” within six months. What does “an exit” mean?
Allup: Let me be clear: that wasn’t just an idea that popped into the head of the President of the National Assembly during his speech upon taking his post. The opposition drafted a document on July 23, 2015 where it – among other things – promised to look for a peaceful, democratic, constitutional and electoral exit from this government within six months of winning the National Assembly.
Semana: Is Venezuela headed towards a civil war?
Allup: No! My God!
Semana: So where is Venezuela headed?
Allup: There could be social unrest here. Now, we’ll know when it happens, but not where it’s going. No one wants unrest. I think the fact that we haven’t had unrest, even though all of the conditions to cause unrest exist, is due to the fact that people are afraid of an explosion and a confrontation that would necessitate military intervention. In other words, my personal conclusion is that the collective would rather suffer through the lesser evil of scarcity and inflation than an explosion of conflict.
Semana: Who runs Venezuela?
Allup: There’s a tetrarchy: Maduro, Cabello, the Minister of Defense (whoever that may be) and another faction that has come to power recently with a diverse set of powers, [that of] Aragua state governor Tareck El Aissami.
The truth is that if someone told me that the opposition has to talk to the government, I’d say not just to be difficult, “With which faction? Which one of those is able to keep a promise? Which one can we arrive at reasonable agreements with in order to get out of this crisis?”.
Semana: Could chavismo re-invent itself?
Allup: With these one-person models, everything starts to crumble when the person dies or starts to go into decline. The chavista “Fifth Republic” has been collapsing over 17 years, which is a little bit less than half of the 40 years that the system before Chavez arrived lasted, from 1958 to 1998. This is because the old system was an institutional model and this is a one-person model.
Ministry of Defense Reigns In Active-Duty Escorts
El Nacional reports today that the Ministry of Defense has issued an order to recall every active duty military member who is currently serving as a bodyguard, escort or otherwise providing personal security to a private citizen. According to journalist Javier Iganacio Mayorca, the ministry is reserving the right to have complete control over the assignment of active duty military members to non-military duties.
The news follows the murder of National Bolivarian Police Harold Tello, a bodyguard to PSUV figure Freddy Bernal, who was killed yesterday while escorting Bernal through the city.
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