[News] Interview with Venezuelan Vice-president Nicolas Maduro

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 22 14:21:21 EST 2013


  In Depth EFE Interview with Venezuelan Vice-president Nicolas Maduro

Jan 22nd 2013, by José Luis Paniagua - EFE

http://venezuelanalysis.com/print/7635

/Journalist of the EFE Agency, José Luis Paniagua interviews the 
Executive Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 
Nicolás Maduro/

/Residence La Vignette, Caracas, Thursday, January 17, 2013/

*EFE journalist Jose Luis Paniagua*

Thank you very much, first of all, for taking time out from your busy 
schedule to meet us today, I'll quickly ask the question everyone does 
every day and that is, how is the President? What are the latest 
developments in the health of President Chavez?

*Executive Vice President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro*

Well, I am very grateful for this interview with Reuters. The President 
is in a process of prolonged post-operative recovery. As have we 
continually informed people, the operation was quite complex, difficult, 
and high risk. It resulted in internal bleeding that was fortunately 
controlled, but that produced a situation, shall we say, more difficult 
and complex than had been anticipated before the operation. We've seen 
him, I've seen him several times, recently on January 14, as part of the 
political team went to visit: Diosdado Cabello, Cilia Flores, Rafael 
Ramirez. Adan Chavez is also part of the team and the older brother of 
President Chavez; Jorge Arreaza, a government minister who is also part 
of the Chavez family, the husband of the eldest daughter. We went to 
visit. We stayed with him for a while. We talked, We updated him on 
various issues within the country. In general terms we saw him very 
calm, at peace, very aware of all the post-operative phases consequences 
of the operation and the impact it had on his respiratory system. We can 
tell the whole international community and all people of good faith who 
are interested in the health of President Chavez that he has the best 
medical equipment, people at the highest level in all specialties, a 
multi-disciplinary team, but also that their expertise is applied to him 
with great care and love. That really is a distinctive aspect of the 
treatment  - loving and scientific -  that our president receives.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Has he recovered from the respiratory complications?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, these are medical details that we have been reporting. The 
infection has been controlled and the doctors are now attending to 
respiratory complications that arose from the operation and from 
infections that were very serious.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

In the days following surgery, during the last days of December, you 
reported on the status of the President in a somewhat sombre tone. It 
seemed that these were particularly difficult moments. Is that so?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Yes, we have advised our public continually and truthfully. There were 
difficult situations that we lived through during the final days of the 
year. We visited him. We talked with him, but there were complications, 
respiratory deficiencies and infection that required complete rest and 
very intense treatment and great discipline by President Chavez. 
Fortunately there were positive results. He always demanded that we keep 
the people well informed in a manner that is objective, calm, and yes 
also respectful to him as patient. All patients according to universal 
medical ethics have a right to privacy and, well, Chavez is not an 
exception. He is a human being with the right to privacy and rights as a 
patient including respect for the rights of his immediate family. We 
have sought a balance point that allows us to tell the truth to our 
people with great serenity, with the peace of mind, but also reveal the 
hardest truths that have to be said at the time. We will continue to do 
this as the medical condition of President Chavez.evolves.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

You have defended the way the government has provided information 
regarding the President's health. You've issued 29 statements, if I 
recall correctly, updating on President Chavez's situation, but some 
people still think that technical details are missing, that more 
explicit medial information is required. Why not opt to divulge excerpts 
of medical reports while also, somehow, safeguarding the dignity and 
privacy of President Chavez while his medical condition evolved?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, you know that President Chavez is one of the world leaders of the 
revolution, a global social revolution, a socialist revolution that 
seeks a new era, and not only in our country and in Latin American. It 
is pursuing a world without empires and the president has confronted 
world powers including the transnational media companies. He has told 
them off directly. In our country, the revolution has rescued our 
natural resources. Oil is now at the service of the Venezuelan people. 
He has faced the powers that be in the world and confronted, as the 
world knows, the main power that exists in our world, U.S. imperialism.

I say this because President Chavez is not any citizen, or an athlete, 
or a famous artist or a president of a government elsewhere in the 
world, which we respect, who could manage this by divulging medical 
reports. The management of the medical information has taken into 
account the role of President Chavez. We have had to face a really 
miserable media war over the life and health of the President. We've 
faced the most abject, morbid journalism. You cannot even call it 
tabloid journalism. This is journalism full of evil that has been 
propagated worldwide, particularly in Spain. In the newspaper ABC, for 
example, that everyone who in Spain knows to be a newspaper of the 
Franco era. It still defends the heinous crimes of Franco, a despicable 
dictatorship repudiated by the Spanish people and by the world. ABC has 
acted as an attack center around the topic of the president's health and 
right wing media around the world have propagated those attacks on 
television, radio and print.

Recently we had delegations from 27 countries here in Venezuela, on 
January 10, and all countries, all in different languages, English, 
French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, other brothers in Latin America and 
the Caribbean told us the same thing - that in the print media of all 
these 27 countries they see the articles of garbage outlets like ABC or 
El Pais. For example, in the newspaper El Pais, in Spain, 56% of the 
articles are written in Miami. Amazing, a newspaper that is published in 
Spain talks about President Chavez and Venezuela and its articles are 
written from the city that is the inheritance of the vilest counter 
revolutionary worms.

We have made what we consider the right choice. We've incorporated the 
political and human defense of President Chavez and his family with the 
medical information. That was really needed to step up against such evil 
aimed at a world leader who has constantly grown in stature. In fact, in 
this stage as in other difficult times, President Chavez has grown in 
the sympathy and the love that many feel towards him. Well beyond the 
left, well beyond the progressive movements in the world, there are many 
worthy people of other ideologies, right and center-right, who respect 
/Comandante/ Chávez. and our news reports go out to all and convey the 
absolute truth.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Well, to your point, the type of reports that have emerged from 
different places suggest that the Venezuelan government could not deal 
with, or has not found a way to deal with, conflicting unconfirmed 
reports distributed through social networking sites, or on the internet 
generally. Is there something that you've re-evaluated, or thought 
"maybe I could have done better job" in terms of communication about the 
President?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Deal with, for example, the ABC newspaper in Spain? How does one deal 
with fascists? They make things up. They live off malevolence, off bad 
intentions. They live in their own world. It is up to the Spanish 
public, the readers of the press, the mass media consumers in the entire 
world to figure out where you find truth and where you find lies. I 
think the big losers, from an ethical point of view, are the liars, not 
the public nor the truth which we have always conveyed.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

How long do you estimate that the president will be convalescing in 
Cuba? Is there some kind of date expected?

*Nicolas Maduro*

At this time it would not be possible to establish because his recovery 
process is stable. He has overcome various post-operative problems. The 
medical treatment at this time is focused on overcoming the ravages of 
respiratory deficiencies. Maybe in the next few days, after meeting with 
the medical team as part of our ongoing collaboration, it may be 
possible to answer with more clarity about the president's prognosis for 
the coming weeks and when he may be ready to return to Caracas.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

¿... Within weeks, not months ...?

*Nicolas Maduro*

It would be speculation to go into that. We hope to be weeks away from a 
great happiness, and as we strongly believe in God and know that our 
prayers are heard, hopefully that is what will happen.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

What if, for whatever reason, the president is unable to resume the 
leadership of the state? I do not know if this is a possibility. He 
mentioned it himself before leaving for Cuba. What would happen in that 
scenario?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, President Chavez in this regard has been very clear. In his speech 
of December 8 he mentioned various scenarios that at this time are being 
evaluated and re-evaluated. On December 8, he said he was ready to 
undergo an operation that clearly was high risk. With that courage, 
serenity, tranquility he met with his political team and laid out 
different scenarios. He had already thought of different ways to deal 
with any situation that might arise, even the worst. He laid it on the 
table what could happen during the operation. Thanks to God and the 
physical strength of President Chavez that scenario did not take place - 
the scenario in which he did not survive the operation. It would have 
been a huge blow to our country, our people, for all of us, very 
painful. Fortunately we are in the post-operative scenario and 
evaluating him. The constitution is very clear. First, in the situation 
that the president at some point thinks he is unable to continue, the 
constitution establishes the mechanisms and time periods for the 
political and institutional life of the country to maintain stability 
and for elections to be held. As it says in our constitution, in 30 days 
our people would decide at the polls. Now as for political rhythms of 
political strength in Venezuela, as you well know, today the 
revolutionary forces have acquired enough strength, sufficient capacity, 
to deal with any scenarios that could occur. Presently, here as I sit in 
this chair, the situation which we are in is that President Chavez is 
the President of Venezuela, and has started the 2013-2019 term and will 
remain President of our country. I've merely been reviewing scenarios 
that you have raised, that President Chavez has raised and, well, 
they're in the public debate.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

And he is giving instructions from Cuba. On Tuesday it was announced 
that former Vice President Elias Juan was appointed Foreign Affairs 
Minister by instruction of President Chavez. I have to ask you about the 
famous signature on the decree, if it was signed personally by President 
Chávez or if it was done electronically.

*Nicolas Maduro*

[Laughs] Look, you can see that the Venezuelan right is so clumsy. Right 
now they are divided into four groups fighting against each other and 
competing to see who is bolder. They have now led themselves to a dead 
end street, as always, by saying that the new foreign minister, Elias 
Juan, was not appointed by President Chavez, despite the document 
bearing his signature. The only ones who have forged a letter and a 
signature in Venezuela's recent history were this very opposition. They 
forged a letter from President Chavez saying he had resigned between 
April 11-13, 2002, and they forged his signature. Now the forgers 
question an appointment that, with all seriousness and solemnity, was 
made by the Bolivarian government and by the person who actually can 
make the appointment, the head of state. He is the one who runs foreign 
policy and he appointed a truly illustrious Minister, Elias Jaua, to one 
of the most powerful positions, Elias Jaua is one of the most beloved 
members of President Chavez's political team. The opposition has led 
themselves into a dead end street and they will crash. And when the day 
of the crash comes they will not apologize, nor will they 
self-criticize. They will continue, as always, going from one defeat to 
another. Unfortunately, that is the Venezuelan right that we have.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

But the signature on the decree, was it signed by hand by President 
Chavez or was it done electronically?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, I think that's a debate without any real substance. President 
Chavez has given an order and signed a decree and the decree has gone 
through as hundreds have gone through during the year. In any case, they 
want to debate something that is of no importance to the country's 
political life. It does not bring anything positive. President Chavez, 
as head of state, gave an order to appoint Elias Jaua. The decree was 
signed. The decree was published. It is as simple as that, as it always 
has been. If you want to review the thousands of decrees that have been 
signed since 1999, it doesn't add anything of substance to a discussion 
of Venezuelan democracy, or the political situation we are living 
through. It is a perverse whim of the decadent right wing in Venezuela.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

On January 8, the Supreme Court ruled on the situation that had arisen 
because of the inability of the President to attend the swearing in 
ceremony for his new mandate. There was a dispute about the correct 
constitutional process. The Supreme Court ruled that the President could 
take the oath later once he recovers and that the previous government 
could, for administrative continuity principle, continue in office, but 
the opposition argued that it should be the President of the National 
Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, who should become head of state. Why not 
Diosdado Cabello?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Because the constitution is very clear. First, in Venezuela, as with all 
issues, they were discussed freely and democratically. In fact, this 
debate even extended beyond our borders. There appeared a 
constitutionalist [laughter] from elsewhere in the world to tell us what 
was in Venezuela's constitution. Our constitution is very clear. It is 
also very simple. Our constitution was made in 1999 by a constituent 
assembly which involved thousands of Venezuelans and its editorial style 
is far removed from elite legalese that one typically sees in law, 
particularly public law and constitutional law. It was written in clear 
language for regular people. Anyone who wants to see the Venezuelan 
Constitution, approved by the Venezuelan people in a referendum, can go 
to Article 231 and 235 for those who want to deepen their understanding 
of the issue. There it is all very clear. First, the President is out of 
the country with the permission of the National Assembly, requested and 
then granted by the National Assembly unanimously, i.e. all 
parliamentarians in Venezuela, both the revolutionary bloc and the 
opposition voted in favor of that permission. Second, reiterating what 
the Supreme Court ruled, in the event that unforeseen circumstances did 
not allow the President to be sworn in, it could happen on another date 
before the Supreme Court. The President is a President in office, 
re-elected, ratified several times. There was and is administrative 
continuity. The only circumstance in which comrade Diosdado Cabello, 
president of the National Assembly, would take over as head of state is 
in the case of an absolute absence as stipulated in Article 233. For 
those who want to read, 233. if an absolute absence is declared before 
the inauguration, Diosdado Cabello would take over and elections would 
be held in 30 days. So the opposition in its different variants, because 
some said it was an absolute absence while others said that it was a 
temporary absence, others that there was no absence, others that things 
could continue, the different versions that the Venezuelan right 
asserted were discussed and the Supreme Court made its decision. Like 
anywhere in the world, the Supreme Court's ruling is gospel. The dispute 
about the interpretation of the constitution was settled and our country 
has done what it had to do correctly. There is a functioning government, 
The President is out of the country constitutionally and we are working 
with the Vice President, the ministers, to maintain the country on a 
correct and constructive path.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

It is nevertheless hard to explain, Mr. Vice President, why if President 
Chavez was unable to attend the swearing in ceremony, and unable to 
submit the report the other day before the National Assembly, a 
temporary absence has not yet been declared. If not a permanent absence, 
a temporary absence is also well established in the constitution, why 
has a temporary absence not been declared?

*Nicolas Maduro*

First, because the circumstances do not exist for a temporary absence. 
There is a government in office working. Over the course of history, the 
accumulation of experience has led us to create an institution like the 
vice presidency, which is an institution to support the presidency, 
coordinate the cabinet. That allows us, as we have for almost 18 months 
during the presidents constitutionally approved leaves from the country, 
to continue through the Vice President and the government team 
implementing his orders, governing the country with the country's head 
of state. In Venezuela, as you know, legitimacy for running the republic 
rests with Hugo Chavez. We just are his collaborators. In 
acknowledgement of that political reality, the immense power of 
leadership, moral power, ethical power, political influence, decision 
making ability, contained in the leadership of Comandante Chávez, in 
recognition of this reality, we have chosen this approach that has been 
successful, very successful. The president is in charge and his team 
supports him. You should also know that the president created new 
positions for better coordination. We have a Vice -president for 
financial economics, a Vice-president for the productive economy, a vice 
president of policy, a vice president of social policy, and a vice 
president for territorial policy and an executive Vice-president, All 
vice presidents formed a council, so we have a system of government that 
has proven successful for situations like the ones we are living.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

In these circumstances, to follow up on my question, as Vice-president 
what things can you do and not do? How far does your power extend at 
this moment?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, the list is long, [laughs] for an interview like this.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

[Laughs]. Evidently your power does not extend to the appointment of 
ministers.

*Nicolas Maduro*

No, not here.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

And if there was some kind of reason at any given time to substitute a 
minister, the president would have to do it?

*Nicolas Maduro*

It is a power vested in the president, of course. The president has the 
authority to add, remove, or replace ministers; the conduct of foreign 
policy; the delegation of certain administrative matters, tax exemptions 
if necessary; the management of some resources, say, national funds to 
finance work at the level of states, regions. But he keeps driving the 
state. There are a set of functions that are managed from the vice 
presidency if they are constitutional and they are getting done - the 
coordinating function. The key function is the coordination of good 
governance of the vice president for their respective areas, ministers 
and, well, the direct contact with power popular. In Venezuela we have 
the democratic concept of popular power and our direct contact with it 
is meant to deliver it power: economic or social power, political power. 
The country continues to operate within the course proposed by the 
president and approved by the nation - the Socialist Plan of 2013-2019.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

You have traveled, and other vice presidents have traveled regularly 
during these last weeks to Cuba. I imagine they have taken work with 
them on those occasions and have met with the Cuban government, with 
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and with President Raul Castro. Is it 
possible to say something about what was said in those meetings?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, the first thing to mention is the extreme devotion of Fidel Castro 
to the care of Chavez, to the care of the Chavez family. He is in direct 
contact with the doctors. Almost daily /Comandante/ Fidel Castro is in 
the hospital, near the doctors, close to the family, attending to and 
greeting President Chavez. We have to be thankful for that as human 
beings. He has given us courage, strength, sharing conversations with us 
- his long experience in history. He is undefeated against the most 
powerful imperialist aggressor that has ever existed -- US imperialism. 
He has acquired a truly privileged knowledge of the history of Latin 
America, of what has happened because he has lived it for 60 years in 
the struggle for the independence of Latin America. They are talks of 
great human value and that impart tremendous historical learning - and 
with President Raul Castro as well. We have implemented, as you know, a 
number of plans for cooperation on health, on education, sports, 
cultural matters, economic matters. We have economic projects that 
President Chavez has called /"//empresas morochas//"/ i.e. a set of 
joint ventures. In other words, Cuba and Venezuela have, within the 
framework of ALBA, a very dynamic and multidimensional relationship. We 
take advantage during our visits to see President Chavez to also address 
these issues - to discuss and perfect them. We never stop, not for a 
second, profoundly thanking the Cuban people, their doctors, and Fidel 
and Raul for the deeply humanitarian attention they've provided our 
president.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

When you hear these accusations that Havana runs Venezuela, Nicolás 
Maduro, as someone who is close to the Cuban government, what do you 
feel at that moment?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, that's their campaign. It is up to them to lie. It is up to us to 
work and tell the truth, plain and simple. They have their lies, we have 
inherited the glories of the Liberator Simon Bolivar, of his apostle 
José Martí. Cuban independence cost so much because the nineteenth 
century was ravaged by the presence of the most powerful army that left 
Spain. More than 300 000 Spanish troops tried to keep Cuba as their 
jewel in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico as well, but especially Cuba, 
which has always been a point of great strategic importance to empires 
and remains so. Independence cost Cuba wars throughout the nineteenth 
century, including the war that independence fighters initiated in1895 
but that was then frustrated by the U.S. military intervention and the 
imposition of the Plat Amendment. That was the beginning of the 
neo-colonialism in Cuba which ended with the victory of the bearded ones 
on January a, 1959. Cuba acquired its independence at immense cost and 
if you find anything in Fidel Castro it is that heritage of 
anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism. It is the same with our country. 
How dearly cost the independence that the liberators won us. Nobody made 
a present of independence for us in the nineteenth century, no one. It 
cost 20 years of war here in Venezuela and our armies came from across 
the Americas to fight for independence. We are two peoples who have the 
same anti-colonialist tradition, the same pride when we find ourselves 
as brothers. This is one thing the right can never understand. We say 
dig into the ground to defend independence. The right says drops to your 
knees on the ground when you see a gringo. There is a big difference 
between saying drop to your knees before the US Empire and saying dig 
into the ground to defend independence - worlds apart, different ideas, 
and different values. So, yes, the comments of the right are offensive, 
but, their offenses aside, we work with dignity and our brotherhood 
between Cuba and Venezuela is ratified daily -- in ALBA, and among all 
our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Let me return to the constitutional issue. The OAS Secretary General 
José Miguel Insulza has said that he fully respected the view taken by 
Venezuelan institutions. I do not know if it deserves some sort of 
response but I will not neglect to ask what happened yesterday -- the 
comments made by the Panamanian Ambassador, the retraction made by the 
Panamanian government, and the Canadian government proposed sending an 
OAS commission to Venezuela.

*Nicolas Maduro*

Starting with the latter, the proposal of the Government of Canada is a 
miserable proposal that has no relevance to the independent democratic 
life of our country. Unfortunately the far-right is governing that 
country and has taken positions that have been isolating Canada from the 
international community and disgusted progressive governments around the 
world. We reject - as our ambassador has - that position of Canada, the 
Government of Canada that is, because the Canadian people have all our 
love and our fond memories always. As for the debate that occurred in 
the OAS, well, our Ambassador Roy Chaderton was very clear -- we 
congratulated him privately and now publicly - because he spoke the 
truth with dignity and intelligence in response to a disproportionate 
aggression by a person who has been disowned by his government. We 
thanked the President of Panama, its foreign minister, who disowned the 
position very quickly, and spoke privately with our foreign minister, 
Elias Jaua. The president of Panama yesterday offered his apologies and 
said that he would do so publicly. So thank you very much to the 
government of Panama, our brothers with whom we will continue to 
cooperate in projects related to trade and energy.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

By the way, how is the exit of Venezuela from the Inter-American Human 
Rights Commission coming along?

*Nicolas Maduro*

It is coming along. A year has to pass before we totally are out of that 
system. During the early months of that period Venezuela has been 
appointed - by the vote of 154 countries -- to the UN's Human Rights 
Council which is where we should be. That is the system that currently 
must be strengthened, that has demonstrated capacity to renew itself, to 
change when challenged. The Inter-American System of Human Rights has 
not. It has been is kidnapped by an elite beholden to the worst 
interests of the ruling elite of the United States- totally kidnapped 
and subordinated. Every day they violate the Convention on Human Rights. 
Thank God we are each further away from that system and trying to build 
a new system of human rights in Latin American.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

So there is no turning back on that decision by Venezuela?

*Nicolas Maduro*

No, it's the correct decision that we should celebrate as often as we can.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Days earlier you accused elements of the opposition of looking for a 
death, of seeking instability in Venezuela and even said that before the 
Federal Council of Government. What information does the Venezuelan 
government have to base that kind of accusation on, to raise that kind 
of scenario?

*Nicolas Maduro*

What we said on January 10 in front of thousands of compatriots who came 
to the swearing in of the people on Urdaneta avenue, here in Caracas - 
an extraordinary ceremony attended by 27 of our close allies on the 
continent -- is that we had information that small groups within the 
extreme right would perpetrate violent attacks on property that would be 
magnified by the private media both nationally and internationally in an 
effort to create destabilization and international alarm over Venezuela. 
On January 11, a day later, in the afternoon, the first violent event 
took place. A small group (that has been identified) destroyed offices 
of a foundation to serve children who have problems: orphaned girls, 
children who have AIDS, children who merit special protection. They 
destroyed the offices in an act of vandalism that has been repudiated by 
the entire country. It was the first attack. Action was taken quickly 
and performed well by the security forces and measures have been taken 
in other cities that prevented attacks from spreading.

Measures in other states have also given us the time to prevent these 
actions of small violent groups of the extreme right. So these groups, 
and there are others who are working on scenarios of destabilization, 
were reported about responsibly. We will continue to denounce them. Some 
of these pseudo-right leaders are going really crazy in Venezuela, and 
competing with each other because they do not accept the leadership of 
their former candidate presidential. They believe their former 
presidential candidate is a person who, as we say in Venezuela, is weak, 
weak in his message, in leadership, and they not recognize him and so 
they've gone crazy. This group surrounding the former presidential 
candidate has not had the courage to condemn the violent groups. 
Hopefully they will. It is never too late to do things that foster peace 
in the republic. I hope they do, but the divisions within the opposition 
that encourage these extreme right-wing groups that have always existed. 
They were responsible for the terrorist attacks that were against the 
consulate of Spain in 2003 (in 2004, sorry) and also against consulate 
of Colombia. These are terrorist groups like the ones Colombian 
paramilitaries brought to Venezuela to attack the palace presidential 
and the President. Now these groups are riled up again. We are going to 
ensure peace in the country and that law and order is maintained. If 
these groups break the law, they will be arrested.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

You commented about former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. You 
greeted him the other day.

*Nicolas Maduro*

Yes.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Did you get to chat with him, say something about a specific topic?

*Nicolas Maduro*

No, the government of President Chavez, through the Vice presidency 
convenes the Federal Council of Government, which is an instance where 
the entire government participates: all ministers, all governors, a 
group of mayors and designated spokespeople of popular power. That 
session of the Council of Federal Government, which is constitutional, 
is convened to review a range of issues and officially convened 
functioning governments. In this 2013-2019 term they came, the three 
opposition governors. You know that of 23 governors who were elected on 
December 16, the revolution won 20 and the opposition was left with 
three governorates: the state of Amazonas, Lara and Miranda. The three 
governors came and we greeted them, of course. The most newsworthy was 
the picture where we greet former presidential candidate for the 
opposition, the governor of Miranda. He was there for the entire 
session, participated in the decision making process there, was included 
in some working committees. That is how democratic life has to be. One 
recognizes the instructions, the Constitution, the laws and work. That 
is one of the reasons why the extreme right tries to blackmail him and 
the other governors who came to the session.  The far right wants to 
delegitimize the government of President Chavez and they plan a violent 
insurrection to overthrow the government. These are the lunacies of an 
extreme right that lives within the opposition and sometimes imposes its 
speech, political line and everything.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Vice President, the opposition had called for a march on January 23 and 
the government decided the same day to convene another march. Does it 
not generate a risk of some kind of confrontation? Is it not a risk to 
march on the same day?

*Nicolas Maduro*

No, January 23 is an emblematic date in the contemporary history of 
Venezuela and if you check you, we all have always, on January 23, done 
activities that involve a mass mobilization of the people, as has the 
opposition. It is an opportunity for the opposition to express itself, 
as it always has, with marches, with public events with all guarantees. 
They are welcome to get out to the street, and we are also welcome. Let 
us make that day a great mobilization that will culminate in the street 
named "January 23", which is one of the emblematic streets in the city 
of Caracas. We do what we must do, reclaim the civic-military spirit 
that overthrew the last dictatorship that existed in Venezuela and focus 
on where we were. We say that the spirit of Colonel Hugo Trejo and the 
journalist Fabricio Ojeda, the military and civilian leaders of that 
civil-military uprising that toppled the dictatorship is alive and is 
part of the spirit with which President Chavez - as Commander on 4 
February '94 - took up arms against the International Monetary Fund. It 
is part of the spirit of the Bolivarian revolution. We have a right to 
do that. The opposition also claims that date. Welcome. We have all 
guarantees to mobilize and demonstrate in our country.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

I do wish to ask for statements that you made recently made about slight 
warming of relations we have seen with the U.S. government. Do you 
foresee an improved relationship that eventually could produce a return 
of the ambassadors to the respective countries?

*Nicolas Maduro*

Well, President Chavez gave us precise orders which he has now given to 
his new Foreign Minister, our dear comrade Elias Jaua, (also vice 
president of the political area), that we are always ready to have a 
relationship based on respect and equality among states with the United 
States. We have always said that sooner or later the ruling elite of the 
United States - the elite that runs the military industrial elite media 
apparatus that is the power true in the United States and over its 
various governments, now the Obama administration- must learn to 
recognize the new independence that exists in Latin America and the 
Caribbean. It must give way to a new relationship of respect. Latin 
America and the Caribbean is no longer the backyard of the United 
States. Latin America has taken its own path in economic matters, 
political matters, in reclaiming the glories of our independence, 
culturally, educationally. We have an identity which has enabled a step 
in the founding of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, the 
Community of Latin American and Caribbean, CELAC, ALBA, Petrocaribe. 
There is another reality and within that new reality we are always 
willing to have good relations with the governments of the United 
States  - at any time, but always on the basis of absolute respect, 
non-intervention in the internal affairs of our country. We have also 
said that sooner or later humanity wil see - in the decades to come -- 
the final decline of imperial hegemonic power has been exercised by the 
elites of the United States in the last 150 years. The world to come has 
to be a multipolar world, multipolar, multicenter, without imperial 
hegemony - a world of peace and respect international law, respect for 
the right to economic and social development and for the lives of the 
peoples of the South. Respect for the right to independence, to 
democracy, to life. This has to be the world, for that world we are 
struggling and President Chavez has made great contributions as a 
driving intellectual force towards this world that is being born.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Let me finish by asking about relations with Spain. How are relations 
with the government of Mariano Rajoy?

*Nicolas Maduro*

They are respectful relations, good relations. Our ambassadors in Madrid 
and the Spanish ambassador in Venezuela have close relationships with 
the government, our government. We hope that these features of our 
relations persist. Spain is facing a very difficult time from an 
economic point of view. We wish the best to the Spanish people, the best 
from our hearts. Spain is in our history by many circumstances and we 
have a great love for the history of Spain, life in Spain, to the 
struggle of the Spanish and have a great respect for the Spanish 
culture, the identity of Spain. We hope that relations with companies 
that have such important life here...Spain has large oil investments 
here that guarantee of energy for the next 100 years. As President 
Chavez said, here is the energy security of Spain, here on Venezuelan 
soil, in oil, gas. We hope that this is remains so and that new 
investment comes. Telefónica is here. There are major companies. May 
they continue to come and continue to work together on a basis of 
respect and for the welfare of both countries and both continents. Latin 
America and the Caribbean have taken a distinct path after getting rid 
of the neoliberal formulas of the IMF and World Bank. We cast them off 
because they led us to misery, hunger, need, backwardness. Europe has 
its own way. Spain and Europe have their way. We respect the way of 
Europe and give a big shout out of respect to the Spanish people.

*Jose Luis Paniagua*

Thank you Vice-president.

*Nicolas Maduro*

Thank you.

/Translation by Joe Emersberger/

-- 
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