First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Relations, Dmitry Novikov, on the events in the Bolivarian Republic and the role of the United States.
Since January 23, a coup attempt has been taking place in Venezuela, which, however, has not been crowned with success. The head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaydo, declared himself president of the republic in defiance of the legitimately elected head of Nicolas Maduro. Thousands of demonstrations marched all over Venezuela, the case was brought even to the clashes of the so-called opposition with law enforcement agencies and the army. The latter, by the way, sided with Maduro, refusing to recognize Guaido as the new president.
About what is happening today in the Bolivarian Republic, how an attempted coup dwells on the general trend of the US struggle with the left governments of Latin America and whether Nicolas Maduro will hold the presidency in an interview with Daily Storm political analyst with the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Relations , deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Dmitry Novikov.
– Dmitry Georgievich, tell us, what is your assessment of the developing events?
– The topic is big and important. It is good that this time she received a serious resonance in the Russian Federation and was in the focus of social and political attention. Until today, I have repeatedly come across the fact that important events, important processes that take place on a large and significant continent, such as Latin America, were not interesting for the Russian media. There was no proper discussion at the expert, political science level.
What is happening in Venezuela is very important. This has become a kind of indicator for all political forces inside Russia. I am closely watching our liberal media, the blogosphere. And how do they cover the events in Latin America? And everything is exactly the same as in the case of the propaganda of their Russophobic and anti-Soviet ideas. In the Venezuelan theme, they take an absolutely pro-American position.
– What do you have in mind?
– The fact is that there is an obvious attempt at a coup d’état, which primarily involves the liberal Venezuelan forces, who do not particularly conceal their pro-Washington orientation. The way events are rapidly evolving emphasizes that all this is a well-planned and coordinated action.
Guaydo declares himself the president of Venezuela, contrary to all applicable laws and despite the fact that the National Assembly itself has essentially lost its legitimacy, although at the time it was quite legitimately elected. Legislature, which should be a model in the legal field, dropped out of it. Today there is no possibility to consider this body legitimate. And this is confirmed by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the country.
– If I understand correctly, the coup attempt in Venezuela fits into the general outline of US policy in Latin America in recent decades.
– Yes, this policy has always been quite active, and it cannot be said that the Monroe Doctrine has ever been completely written off to the archive. But today we see its obvious renaissance, when the United States is trying to re-establish Latin America under its complete control. This is a reaction to the left turn, which we observed at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries.
We saw how, following Cuba, a large number of countries on this continent were received by left governments. In absolutely democratic ways, in many countries socialists came to the leadership. For the USA, this was bad news, since it refuted the thesis that the collapse of the Soviet Union automatically means the collapse of the left project, the collapse of the socialist idea. And this was fundamentally important in ideological disputes, in disputes about the fate of the world in the 21st century.
Many of these governments have been able to stay in power for quite a while. This applies to Nicaragua, where the Sandinists, having lost power at some stage, then returned to leading the country through elections. This applies to Venezuela and Bolivia, where the president is the socialist Evo Morales. In this series today and El Salvador, where the US is trying to influence the outcome of the next presidential election. Of particular concern in Washington at the time was the fact that in such key countries of the region as Argentina under Christine Kirchner (2007-2015) or Brazil under Lula da Silva (2003-2011), leftist governments were in power.
– Which, by the way, with the direct participation of the United States, were eventually replaced by right-wing and even far-right and, above all, pro-American.
– It is clear that Washington could not tolerate such a situation and could not leave these countries alone. A systematic policy was carried out in order to provide a breakthrough in this regard. And the results were achieved.
When Trump took office as president, it became apparent that the general contours of American foreign policy would be linked to the most serious confrontation in the international arena. And it will be determined in the 21st century by competition with the People’s Republic of China, which is confidently developing and, in a number of indicators, has become the first economy of the planet. It became obvious that the rivalry with Russia, which ceased, as in the 1990s, to lag behind the North American foreign policy, continued, declared its own interests in the international arena.
In this situation, it was strategically important for the United States how to prepare for the decisive battles of the current century and “restore order” in their own backyard.
– How they always perceived Latin America.
– Exactly. Therefore, the policy in this direction has been significantly activated. And we cannot say that it was in vain for the White House. We see that there was a change of power in Argentina. In Brazil, the far-right politician has come to power today, whom many in Latin America rate even more harshly, calling him a fascist.
But this does not mean that the trend of “correction” is 100% stable. For example, López Obrador, who repeatedly advanced in the presidential election from the left bloc in Mexico and lost them due to rigged voting results, was able to conduct a successful election campaign and last year became president of his country. And therefore, on the “Venezuelan dossier”, Mexico today takes a fundamentally different position than Brazil.
Despite the efforts of the United States, which yielded certain results, they did not succeed in realizing their course in relation to a number of Latin American countries. That is why, shortly before the end of last year, Bolton, who is Trump’s foreign policy adviser, announced the “triumvirate of tyranny”.
– Beautiful and impressive sounds, by the way. US love to invent such catchy names.
– Yes, yes, before this was the so-called axis of evil, which included Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the strongholds of tyranny – Belarus, Cuba, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and others, and so on. They love the bright terms that brand their opponents.
To date, a kind of declaration of war against a group of countries in Latin America has just become a new wording – “the triumvirate of tyranny”. Bolton attributed to him Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. It is clear that this does not exhaust the circle of left-wing governments on the continent – there is Evo Morales in Bolivia, and the same El Salvador, but the three of states in respect of which the priority system of measures for their economic, financial, political blockade will be implemented.
Maduro’s entry into the presidency — and I was able to be at his inauguration in Caracas on January 10 — was used to activate the opposition, once again stating the US position that they do not recognize Maduro as the legitimate president. And this is despite the fact that the past elections have provided him with quite confident support – almost 70% of the votes from those who came to the polls. By the way, here it is worth considering the possibilities of the Venezuelan opposition, albeit fragmented, but having an impact on certain sectors of society. Its capabilities do not allow to write off the result of Maduro on any falsifications. It was confident support.
On January 10, I personally saw tens of thousands of people who took to the streets of Caracas to greet the inauguration ceremony of Nicolas Maduro, who took office for a second presidential term.
Recalling our liberal public, I can say that it is obviously in a hurry when it says that the days of Maduro are numbered, and irreversible changes have occurred in Venezuela. In fact, it is too early to write off Maduro. His support inside the country is quite stable. It is provided by the broad masses of Venezuelan workers and, very importantly, the extensive structure of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and its allied organizations.
It is very important that the Chavists in their time came to the conclusion that it was necessary to create their own party. I want to remind you that in the early years of Chávez’s presidency, he managed without it and believed, obviously, that his popularity is a sufficient factor to lead the country. Of course, the Communist Party of Venezuela supported him, but Hugo Chavez did not create his own party for a long time. Then he realized that this was an erroneous position. Today, the Venezuelan United State Party is a very effective tool to support the current government.
“What about supporting the army?” For Latin America, in my opinion, this is a very important tool for the sustainability of power.
– Indeed it is, and it is no secret to anyone. The support of the newly elected President Maduro by the Venezuelan armed forces was clearly demonstrated already on January 10, during the inauguration ceremony of the President. Her first part was held in the Supreme Court. It was attended by foreign delegations, the first persons of Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, status official delegations of Iran, Turkey, the Russian Federation, Mexico and other countries. Here was all the army leadership, representatives of the governor’s corps, mayors of cities, political and public figures.
After the inauguration ceremony, the participants moved to the Military Academy of Caracas, where the Venezuelan armed forces took the oath of allegiance to the president. Let me remind you that today’s Minister of Defense of the Republic is among the five most popular politicians in the country. His support for chavista is obvious, and this is an important factor for stabilizing the situation.
– Will Maduro keep the situation under control?
– It is not necessary for individual leaders to wishful thinking and announce the end of Nicolas Maduro as the head of state. I hope that he has enough political will to prove it with his actions.
Let’s look at a specific example. I have already said that Bolton, in addition to Venezuela, took Cuba and Nicaragua to the “triumvirate of tyranny”. Last year, with the direct, frank, cynical participation of the US Embassy in Nicaragua, a similar attempt was made to carry out a coup d’état in this country. Various NGOs, the non-governmental sector, financing from abroad and overt gangs were involved. The situation was swayed by different methods, starting from April 2018 and up to July. But the Sandinista leadership led by Daniel Ortega had the will to overcome all this.
After the inauguration of Maduro, I participated in the forum of peace and solidarity. There was a detailed conversation with Ortega himself and with the vice-president of the country Rosario Murillo, as well as with the minister of foreign affairs, with the chairman of parliament and key figures from the government. They feel confident, the situation has stabilized. Yes, they recognize that the consequences of that attempt at a color revolution that was undertaken in Nicaragua will be overcome for a long time, a serious blow was struck at the economy, the country was paralyzed for several months, but now, step by step, they straightened the situation, normal life returned to Managua, the dynamics of economic indicators is extremely positive.
– Is it possible for Russia to take part in resolving the situation in Venezuela? For example, it could influence the leadership of the republic so that simultaneous early elections of the president and parliament of the country were held there.
– I have a very negative attitude to such proposals. The idea is quite harmful. And it is even more strange when so-called friends of Venezuela, including in our country, talk about it.
The implementation of such a plan would mean that Russia is ready under the specious pretext of agreeing to swaying the internal political situation in the Bolivarian Republic. Extraordinary presidential elections are definitely not needed. There are normal legal mechanisms, there is a constitution in accordance with which it is necessary to act. Yes, parliamentary elections will be required, as the National Assembly has lost its legitimacy, but there is no point in talking about presidential elections. They have already taken place in May of last year. By the way, if someone has questions, why the inauguration was only in January, then the Venezuelan legislation is so arranged. The constitutional norm states that a new president takes office at the beginning of the year following the election year.
Ahead of Nicolas Maduro at least five years of legal presidential term. It is necessary to use them effectively in the interests of citizens. It is necessary to cool all the hotheads who are trying to question this question.
As for the National Assembly, early elections are possible there, but not in a hurry. Much better when elections are held in conditions of political and economic stability. In order to ensure it after the intervention of the United States in the internal political life of Venezuela, it is necessary to begin to go through this period, and after it – to decide on the parliamentary elections.
We in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation advocate an active policy on Venezuela for many reasons. First, there are such simple, but important concepts as justice and solidarity. Secondly, there are international norms that must be respected. Attempts by the United States to dictate to Venezuelans how to behave themselves are going beyond all international norms and generally accepted rules.
– What about geopolitical interests, which, unfortunately, many people like to forget?
– Venezuela is not just a self-sufficient goal in Washington’s politics, but also a means of creating a certain situation in the international arena. The fight against Venezuela is the fight against China, which is actively investing in the Venezuelan economy, especially in the oil sector, which is extremely important for this country. The same applies to Russia, we have invested less in them than China, but $ 17 billion is a lot of money.
If the US organizes these games against the Venezuelan people, including for the struggle against China and Russia, then this is the direct reason for Moscow to conduct a reverse course and support the Venezuelans by all possible means.
– What, for example?
– In no case do not abandon the existing economic projects, although such cries today from the liberals are heard. There are references to the fact that in the conditions of the Venezuelan instability, we should not maintain economic agreements with the Maduro government. This is a fundamentally wrong question. If there are ideas related to the intensification of economic interaction, then we should support these ideas.
Military strategic cooperation should be continued, contracts related to the supply of arms should be implemented. Moreover, in my opinion, if, for some contracts, Venezuela asks to postpone payments, then this must be done, since this corresponds to our national interests.
In the same way, full diplomatic and political support should be provided in the international arena, in the UN and other organizations. It is also necessary to support those countries in the Latin American continent that act simultaneously both as our allies and as allies of Venezuela. States like Cuba and Nicaragua are not just our partners. These are our friends, and it is very dear.
– Well, the last question – what about the economic crisis in Venezuela? About this you have not said a word …
– It should be well understood that economic problems really exist. But, first, such problems have happened in different countries, at different times and, including, in the United States of America itself. The Great Depression of 1929-1939 was a terrible crisis with its victims.
As for the crisis in Venezuela, it therefore exists because these problems in the country are largely inspired by the economic blockade that Washington consistently implements and strengthens from year to year. This was already in the time of Obama, and this intensified with the arrival of Trump in the White House. Against the background of the global downward trend in oil prices, the measures taken by the United States have seriously affected the situation inside Venezuela. For her, the oil industry is a key strategic asset in its economy. Oil revenues have declined, and its production has decreased. All this has seriously affected the replenishment of the budget.
Yes, there are economic problems. Yes, there is a migration. Different numbers are called – from one to five million people who left Venezuela over the past three years. But I want this figure to be properly understood.
At the beginning of this century, there was a period when, with the arrival of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela sent its oil industry serious revenues not to enrich the oligarchs, but to solve social problems. And they are effectively addressed. Entire quarters of new houses were built, where the poor moved. Were implemented and social programs related to education and health.
Thousands of Cuban doctors came to Venezuela and helped Chávez to develop the country’s health care. But it is known that Cuba has one of the highest levels of medicine in the world. The same goes for the education system. The fight against unemployment, the support of the peasants and other measures were successfully implemented thanks to Chavez. Ros standard of living. In this situation, 5.7 million Colombian citizens moved to live in Venezuela. Many of them received Venezuelan citizenship.
Today, when the situation has changed and the crisis has done its job, many of them return to Colombia, using their family ties. This is actively used in their propaganda by opponents of Maduro, arguing that Venezuelans are actively leaving their country. If you look at the situation in detail, it is often the case of Colombians who are returning home. All this is complex and must be borne in mind in order to realistically assess the situation in Venezuela. I am sure that the Maduro government is able to cope with the problems that have arisen.