‘Venezuelan opposition against President Maduro lacks democratic credentials’
Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly on Tuesday issued a statement saying it is opening a hearing process against President Nicolas Maduro to investigate his so-called 'violations against democracy.'
RT: Some of the opposition party's key figures have compared the current leader of Venezuela to Satan 'for trying to impose his dictatorship on the people'. What do you make of such statements? Do you think a lot of Venezuelans share the same view?
Eva Golinger: Well, it is obviously a very extremist position to take, rather absurd. We’re looking at an opposition in Venezuela, antigovernment groups that are not one cohesive organization – they are comprised of about 30 different political parties. They do not agree on most issues. While they have agreed on their efforts to remove [Nicolas] Maduro from power, they have not yet agreed on how to do that.
In fact, just yesterday President Maduro had announced that there was a new call to dialogue, because this is not the first time that this has been happening since he won office in 2013. There have been multiple attempts by these opposition groups to violently remove him from power. Now they are trying to do it through a recall referendum, which was just suspended by the judiciary in Venezuela because of irregularities and the signature collection by the opposition – there was fraud. And now they are trying to engage in a sort of political trial or impeachment, which is not really a figure that exists exactly in Venezuela under the current constitution. So it is really just a show.
The opposition was divided over whether or not to dialogue. There are some sectors more radicalized – those who use statements referring to the President in rather absurd ways. They reject all dialogue with the President. There are other sectors of the opposition that are open to the dialogue. So the government has been trying to work more with this sort of moderate, reasonable, rational opposition to find the way out of this crisis.
But in the end President Maduro no matter how demonized he is in international media and even in the local media, private media in Venezuela, is a legitimate president. He was elected; he still maintains popular support in the country that may have declined during severe economic crisis that the country has been facing due to the drop in oil prices, but that doesn’t mean he is not a legitimate leader and a legitimately elected President. Now the country has to go through a period of time where they can figure out how to dialogue, how to move forward, work together to get out of this economic crisis, but also resolve some of these political tensions that have escalated the conflict to the extent where now the opposition is calling for foreign intervention.
RT: Has Maduro really violated the constitution, as is claimed? Or is what we are seeing just a pretense for the opposition to seize power?
EG: The opposition is making all kinds of wild allegations, and when I say opposition, I am talking about these diverse groups. Yes, they have alleged that Moduro has violated democracy, but at the same time these are groups led by individual political leaders of their parties that participated in an executed a coup d’état agent President [Hugo] Chavez in 2002 unsuccessfully, and then tried to do the same against President Maduro right after he was elected in 2013, and then again in 2014. So they have not shown democratic credentials to be calling on someone else like President Maduro, who is actually democratically elected and behaving as he should as the President, looking for ways out of this severe crisis; imposing sometimes drastic measures in the country to do so.
I think there are issues. The issue about the recall referendum – that is a constitutional right in Venezuela. It should not be in any way impeded. At the same time, if the opposition commits fraud to achieve the recall referendum, then they are not playing by the democratic rules either. So that is what we’re looking at now: both sides are sort of playing around within the framework of the constitution regarding this recall referendum or other efforts to ouster Maduro, but the opposition does not have the democracy flag on their side.
RT: In any case, is he failing as leader? Poverty and corruption are widespread. Is this, in some ways, a consequence of his failures?
EG: He’s certainly confronted a lot of problems and crisis during his short mandate, because it has only been about three and a half years at this stage. And of course there has been mismanagement of the economy; there have been poor decisions made; there has been a lot of nepotism; a lot of corruption – those are all valid claims and allegations - some of which are being investigated and looked into by Venezuela’s internal public prosecutors.
Also some of that has also been aired internationally – there have been several trials brought against members or ex-members of the Venezuelan government, or those associated with it – that are based on charges of corruption, allegations of drug-trafficking, some of which has been proven through certain evidence, and some of which has been fabricated in order to sort of continue this discrediting and delegitimizing of President Maduro – demonizing his government and his figure.
But his popularity numbers have certainly dropped dramatically. Again, there are massive food shortages; there is the highest inflation in the region currently; there are economic decisions that have not in any way been positive for the country over the past couple of years that in fact have increased the financial decline. So whether or not he is a failure, that is for the Venezuelan people to decide.
But he is also coming at the very difficult moment, after the death of President Hugo Chaves, probably the most popular President in Venezuela ever. And then right on the bridge of this massive drop of oil prices, of which Venezuela is 100 per cent dependent on their oil income. I think there are a lot of other factors playing into President Maduro’s popularity. But certainly it is for the Venezuelan people to decide.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.