Argentinian President Mauricio Macri offered his scathing opinion on the political situation in Venezuela in an interview with Spain’s ABC. Macri criticized not only the Maduro administration, but also chavismo in general and the “Socialism of the 21st Century”, the political project Chavez created.
Below, my translation of the questions the newspaper asked on Venezuela, along with Macri’s responses:
ABC: You promised during your campaign that you would ask for the release of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. You fulfilled this promise during the 49th Heads of State Summit at MERCOSUR, where you asked for “the prompt release of political prisoners in Venezuela”. Did you expect that reaction from Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who erroneously accused the Argentinian government of double standards for “freeing those responsible for torture during the dictatorship”, and that she had already denounced the “persistent and illegitimate meddling in Venezuelan internal affairs”?
Macri: The Venezuelan government’s reaction doesn’t worry me. This is a government that has violated every human right, the same [rights] that we were working towards defending. This government has brought the Venezuelan people to famine and abandon. This is why they need a referendum. They need to hold elections as soon as possible.
ABC: Argentina was criticized for lowering its tone against the Nicolas Maduro government before the Organization of American States (OAS), since it didn’t support the application of the Democratic Charter as requested by Secretary General Luis Almagro, who argued that there had been an “alteration of the constitutional order” in Venezuela. Why did you soften your stance?
Macri: That isn’t the case. We’ve done the same thing that we’ve been doing. We looked for different ways to bring us to this result: elections as soon as possible, while at the same time always ratifying our compromise to the defense of human rights in Venezuela.
ABC: National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup spoke on what happened at the OAS by saying, “At least Cristina [Kirchner] wasn’t a hypocrite”…
Macri: At the OAS, we managed to hold a vote, and it turned out well. I’m constantly exchanging messages with Leopoldo Lopez’s wife [Lilian Tintori], and she has always thanked me for what we’re doing.
ABC: There is talk of a great political change in Latin America: Cristina Kirchner is no longer in power, Evo Morales has been losing popularity over these past six months, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador is heading down the same path. Is this the end of populism?
Macri: I think that it’s clear that populism, after years of bonanza, has shown the levels of fraud that it had generated, specially in our country. I don’t want to give my opinion about other countries. However, what has been abundantly demonstrated is the need to govern close to people, honouring words and promises, and solving problems in real time (…) that’s what people are calling for today.
ABC: Since you don’t want to talk about other countries, have you seen the idea of the “Socialism of the 21st Century” deteriorate?
Macri: Yes. There are countries that adhered to that, and Venezuela was the mirror in which they saw themselves. Luckily, we avoided the “Chavezisation” of Argentina in 2013, which was the height of the conflict, but we’ve now entered an era of change.
BCV Gives IMF Full Report for First Time in 12 Years
El Nacional reported today that the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) has filed a full report containing every detail of the Venezuelan economy before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the first time in twelve years. The news is significant because the IMF could require Venezuela to provide such a report in the event that the country asks the organization for financial assistance.
In 2004, Hugo Chavez closed the IMF office in Venezuela, and publicly stated that Venezuela would withdraw from the international organization. However, under pressure from advisers, Chavez eventually backed off from cutting all ties with the IMF.
Economist Asdrubal Oliveros believes that this most recent filing could be motivated by one of two factors. The first is that the Maduro administration is gearing up to ask the IMF for financial assistance. The second is that Venezuela is looking to tap into more of its special drawing rights (SDR), which are a kind of foreign currency reserve that is held by the IMF. Venezuela tapped into its SDR holdings at the IMF last year.
Poll: 80% Want Maduro Out in 2016
A poll conducted by the Datanalisis firm has found that 80% of Venezuelans want Maduro to leave power this year.
The same poll found that the following individuals are at least twice as popular with Venezuelans as Maduro:
- Leopoldo Lopez
- Henrique Capriles
- Henry Ramos Allup
- Henri Falcon
The president of Datanalisis, Luis Vicente Leon, spoke on the results of the survey, saying:
Chavismo has gone off Maduro’s cliff. There has been a loss of confidence in his abilities, and if there were to be an election, he would be demolished (…) Maduro suffers from a very important weakening of popular support.
Leon also said that surveys suggest that along with Maduro’s horrendous numbers, the PSUV lacks from high-profile figures with any widespread popularity.
Moreover, Leon said that Maduro’s unpopularity is causing the rest of the PSUV to consider if keeping Maduro at the helm of the party might eventually result in its destruction:
There are important groups that would like him to leave so that they could make a change, also within chavismo.
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