[News] President of Venezuela: A Call for Peace
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 2 10:54:42 EDT 2014
Venezuela: A Call for Peace
By NICOLÁS MADUROAPRIL 1, 2014
CARACAS, Venezuela --- THE recent protests in Venezuela
have made international headlines. Much of the foreign media coverage
has distorted the reality of my country and the facts surrounding the
Venezuelans are proud of our democracy. We have built a participatory
democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both
power and resources are equitably distributed among our people.
According to the United Nations
Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality
It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced
enormously --- to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank's data
<http://datos.bancomundial.org/pais/venezuela>, from 49 percent in 1998;
in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty
to 6 percent from 21 percent.
We have created flagship universal health care and education programs,
free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large
part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil.
While our social policies have improved citizens' lives over all, the
government has also confronted serious economic challenges in the past
16 months, including inflation and shortages of basic goods. We continue
to find solutions through measures like our new market-based foreign
which is designed to reduce the black market exchange rate. And we are
monitoring businesses to ensure they are not gouging consumers or
hoarding products. Venezuela has also struggled with a high crime rate.
We are addressing
this by building a new national police force, strengthening
community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system.
Since 1998, the movement founded by Hugo Chávez
has won more than a dozen presidential, parliamentary and local
elections through an electoral process that former American President
Jimmy Carter has called
"the best in the world." Recently, the United Socialist Party received
an overwhelming mandate in mayoral elections in December 2013, winning
255 out of 337 municipalities.
Popular participation in politics in Venezuela has increased
dramatically over the past decade. As a former union organizer, I
believe profoundly in the right to association and in the civic duty to
ensure that justice prevails by voicing legitimate concerns through
peaceful assembly and protest.
The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current
protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The
antigovernment protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier
of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that
have benefited the vast majority of the people.
Antigovernment protesters have physically attacked and damaged health
care clinics, burned down a university in Táchira State and thrown
Molotov cocktails and rocks at buses. They have also targeted other
public institutions by throwing rocks and torches at the offices of the
Supreme Court, the public telephone company CANTV and the attorney
general's office. These violent actions
have caused many millions of dollars' worth of damage. This is why the
protests have received no support in poor and working-class neighborhoods.
The protesters have a single goal: the unconstitutional ouster of the
democratically elected government. Antigovernment leaders made this
clear when they started the campaign in January, vowing to create chaos
in the streets. Those with legitimate criticisms of economic conditions
or the crime rate are being exploited by protest leaders with a violent,
In two months, a reported 36 people have been killed. The protesters
are, we believe, directly responsible
for about half of the fatalities. Six members of the National Guard have
been shot and killed; other citizens have been murdered while attempting
to remove obstacles placed by protesters to block transit.
A very small number of security forces personnel have also been accused
of engaging in violence, as a result of which several people have died.
These are highly regrettable events, and the Venezuelan government has
responded by arresting those suspected. We have created a Human Rights
Council to investigate all incidents related to these protests. Each
victim deserves justice, and every perpetrator --- whether a supporter
or an opponent of the government --- will be held accountable for his or
In the United States, the protesters have been described as "peaceful,"
while the Venezuelan government is said to be violently repressing them.
According to this narrative, the American government is siding with the
people of Venezuela; in reality, it is on the side of the 1 percent who
wish to drag our country back to when the 99 percent were shut out of
political life and only the few --- including American companies ---
benefited from Venezuela's oil.
Let's not forget that some of those who supported ousting Venezuela's
democratically elected government in 2002 are leading
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10365> the protests today. Those
involved in the 2002 coup immediately disbanded the Supreme Court and
the legislature, and scrapped the Constitution. Those who incite
violence and attempt similar unconstitutional actions today must face
the justice system.
The American government supported
the 2002 coup and recognized
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzSnH4_p0PY> the coup government
despite its anti-democratic behavior. Today, the Obama administration
spends at least $5 million
<http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/208290.pdf> annually to
support opposition movements in Venezuela. A bill calling for an
additional $15 million for these anti-government organizations is now
in Congress. Congress is also deciding whether to impose sanctions on
Venezuela. I hope that the American people, knowing the truth, will
decide that Venezuela and its people do not deserve such punishment, and
will call upon their representatives not to enact sanctions.
Now is a time for dialogue and diplomacy. Within Venezuela, we have
extended a hand to the opposition. And we have accepted the Union of
South American Nations' recommendations to engage in mediated talks with
the opposition. My government has also reached out to President Obama,
expressing our desire to again exchange ambassadors. We hope his
administration will respond in kind.
Venezuela needs peace and dialogue to move forward. We welcome anyone
who sincerely wants to help us reach these goals.
Nicolás Maduro is the president of Venezuela.
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