'Venezuelan crisis won't be resolved by violence, killing & regime change'
The Venezuelan government's plans to set up a constituent assembly, which will rewrite the country's Constitution, have been met with widespread condemnation.
The opposition held a symbolic vote on Sunday, in which over seven million people rejected the move. The government didn't recognize the poll.
The opponents are worried, as the severe economic crisis in the country has seen months of violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the government, with over 100 people killed since April.
RT spoke with lawyer Christian Mancera, who is in favor of the protests, and Eva Golinger, who is against and suggests Venezuelans should wait for another election.
RT: Christian, why does Maduro want to rewrite the Constitution? Why is there so much opposition to the plan?
Christian Mancera: I think everybody in the Venezuelan community who is opposed to this plan, thinks and clearly understands his intention is to undermine the Constitution and to undermine the will of the people. There is no need to write a new Constitution, and the purpose of his idea is to suppress the current parliament and to silence their voices. If the intent is to create a new Constitution that will benefit everybody and include every single sector of society in Venezuela, then so be it. But this is not the plan for Maduro. Maduro plans to constitute his own way of government and to suppress the people even more, beyond the fact that he has already killed 93 people, and 1,500 people have been injured. So this is not a game of being a good president, this is a game of being a dictator, and that is his intent.
RT: Why it was so important for people to take to the streets in the thousands?
CM: It is very important because people wanted to demonstrate to the whole world how important their country is. They are concerned that their country is going the wrong way; that it is not a democracy anymore. The only way to generate that is being able to have a voice, to let every nation that has supported Nicolas Maduro and its regime, and everybody who supports him, that they are willing to go beyond the line, beyond whatever it takes to bring their country back to democracy, because it is clear that at this point that is not what is going on in Venezuela. So the reason why they were in the streets yesterday was to protest against the regime and to let everybody know that they’re there, that there are more than seven million people that want the government out, and that was the purpose of their protest yesterday.
'Resort to violence won't work'
RT: Eva, what is your position on this? People are understandably angry about the situation in their country.
Eva Golinger: I would like to correct an erroneous statement made by [Mr. Mancera], who said Maduro has killed 90 plus people – that is completely inaccurate and false, first of all. It wasn’t Maduro directly. I understand the context would be security forces, but the facts show that a significant portion of those who have been killed in the anti-government protests have been by the protesters themselves. Some have even been self-inflicted injuries, because they have been using lethal weapons, such as Molotov cocktails and home-made guns, and even bombs. I am not justifying either end – just that it is more important these days than ever to get your facts straight, especially when talking about an issue that is so polemic and controversial and very passionate on both sides.
Now, I would say that we’d have to back up a little because Maduro was elected when Hugo Chavez passed away in 2013. He won by an incredibly slim margin of under two points, and after that protest started against his government. So his government started off in a bad way. Then there was a severe economic crisis heavily mismanaged by the Maduro government that increased the crisis, even more, skyrocketing inflation, food shortages. At the same time, there has been sabotage on the part of private enterprises, hoarding products, and aiding in just the overall economic deterioration in the country.
At the same time, the government has responded – there were times when Maduro tried to reach out to the opposition for dialogue; there was a brief moment of dialogue, it was rejected pretty much by both sides, and then things escalated again into protest. The more violent the protests have become, the more radicalized the government has become. So the opposition last year tried to hold a recall referendum on President Maduro, which is permitted by the Constitution… It was stifled by the country’s electoral body. They alleged the opposition didn’t meet the requirements. The opposition saw it as an undermining of their constitutional right. Then the elections that were supposed to be held in December for governors and mayors were delayed without justification. So this all led to the current crisis… There are millions of people who supported Chavez who are not happy with the current government, and I happen to be one of them, but the solution is not regime change. I’m not happy with the government in this country (United States) with Donald Trump, but the solution is not regime change. We prepare for the electoral process, that’s what we do in a democracy. Yes, we are tired, yes we don’t like it. But the solution is not violence in the streets, killing each other and regime change.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.