Nicolas Maduro it still has de facto power in Venezuela. That is so, despite the Operation Freedom leadered by Juan Guaidó, as president of the National Assembly and “president in charge” of the country recognized by dozens of countries of the international community … among them, Spain. However, the arrival of the PSOE to the Government, in mid-2018, already meant a shift in the position of our country. The predecessor of Arancha González Laya is the then foreign minister, Josep Borrell, and today High Representative of the EU.
Borrell has convened this Thursday the so-called Contact Group to report on its “progress” in relation to the legislative elections called by the regime and rejected by the democratic opposition.
Leopoldo López Gil, MEP and father of the Venezuelan opposition leader who has lived for more than a year protected in the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, protected by him, has written a letter to Borrell: he rejects that the EU can accept those elections if there are one ” minimum democratic conditions “. And above all, he cries out to the Executive of Pedro Sanchez: “Spain’s position is key in this … you cannot be halfway with democracy, or yes or no.” At the end of the interview, the politician’s voice breaks, he can’t take it anymore.
What are your expectations for the Contact Group meeting this Thursday?
More than expectations, I have a lot of apprehension. Mr. Borrell has been very insistent that elections can be held, as he has said, “with a minimum of guarantees.” If he has proposed to postpone them, it has not been because the conditions are not met, but with the excuse that the times are not enough. I don’t like that, because they seem to be worth it … I must clarify that neither I nor any of the Venezuelan democratic opposition are against democratic elections. Yes, we are against elections that are not verifiable or transparent … that is, not really democratic.
For this reason, I have sent a letter to Mr. Borrell asking him to take into account the observations of the National Assembly of Venezuela, asking that they not take part in those elections. I am against the EU getting involved in this, because approaching the regime implies legitimizing a process that is not legitimate.
What has changed in the position of the EU?
Only that they released some prisoners who were not such, but some kidnapped by the Nicolás Maduro regime. Of the 110 released, 50 were political prisoners and another 60 people were linked in some way to the issue. But they forget that there are another 300 more still behind bars, and at least 200 soldiers imprisoned for political or ideological reasons. That carrot was to move the tail of the opposition. But it is not acceptable. More so when many of those released said that the dictatorship imposed on them as a condition to get them out of their cells to participate in the elections.
The democratic opposition has refused to do so. Among other things, because the regime has imposed a leadership on many parties that is neither the natural nor the legitimate one. They are eating their acronyms and their symbols. How is anyone going to participate in an election when your party has been usurped? Those with good principles will not. Others who receive perks may do so.
Why have Borrell and, with him, Spain changed their position?
This is something incomprehensible to me. But it is a very personal position of High Representative Borrell, which I believe is due to an influence from his friend and colleague José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. He has inherited his negotiations and has wanted to keep them.
Do you also attribute it to the entry of Podemos into the Government?
I have no clue to say no … but not to be sure either.
Would the dispatch of a group of EU observers suffice to certify that these elections are free and democratic?
I don’t know what the job of the observation mission would be like. I have been on two missions like that sent by the European Parliament. In the last one, I was head of mission in Peru. There we were 100 people employed for a month. Obviously, the doors were opened to us in all the institutions. There was an absolute predisposition for our criteria to be based on truthfulness. I don’t think that will happen in Venezuela.
The first thing is that if you send a mission of observers, you are already giving legitimacy that suffrage. And there isn’t! If you are invited to a crime, you will not participate because you already know that it is illegal.
Minister González Laya said the other day that Spain will support the elections “if there is a space, however small it may be” for the legislative elections called by the regime to be held in freedom. What can you refer to?
That is what we do not know. Precisely. that’s my criticism. Henrique Capriles speaks of a crack … For me, in Venezuela there is a saying: women cannot be half pregnant. Well, the same, elections cannot be half illegal, half democratic or half transparent. Either they are or they are not. There are no “minimum conditions”. They have to be “the” conditions.
Speaking of the former candidate Capriles, is it enough for him to accept the possibility of running for good for those elections to be guaranteed?
I don’t think that is enough. He does not constitute or represent the opposition. When he was a candidate, he did represent the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD). But now it has no backing. Not even his own party, Primero Justicia, supports him on that. He is a lone ranger who goes around looking for a presence that does not correspond to him.
If you could meet with the Government of Spain and High Representative Borrell, what would you ask them?
I would ask them if they can accept a half dictatorship … You can’t. Political representatives have to act with clear criteria. Either you are honest or you are dishonest; Either you are brave or you are cowardly; either you are a democrat or you are a tyrant.
Has Spanish political support for the democratic cause in Venezuela fallen? Immersed in our own crisis …
Yes. But not only in Spain. The crisis of the pandemic is terrible in health, economically and tremendous in humanitarian terms. The focus of our interests has changed for all of us. It is too rough a river, and not all of us will make it to the other side of the Rubicon alive.
The richest neighborhoods in Madrid have been filled with your compatriots … Do you think that the perception of the very serious crisis in your country is changing in ours?
I don’t think so, because when I talk about Venezuela, the first thing people say is “what a pity of a country.” And all of our compatriots that make us come to tears.