Ambassador Leiff Escalona is not a happy lady and it’s all thanks to Venezuela’s current political climate. While she hopes this Sunday’s election will pave the way to peace, still she reflects with sadness on the recent violence that over the last several months has dominated world headlines – opposition-led uprisings that have left close to 100 people dead and several others injured. Recent news reports out of Venezuela hold the opposition responsible for the demise of 23 people, all set on fire while still alive.
Despite it all, Escalona and others patriotic to their land remain optimistic. For weeks campaigns have been underway in Venezuela, ahead of the elections for the National Constituent Assembly, part of the process to stabilize relations. But the ambassador is disappointed with the coverage of events in her country by international media. It is time for truth to prevail, she says.
“The opposition participated twice in our dialogue process,” the ambassador said this week, referring to the interventions supported by the Union of South American Nations (UNISUR) and by the Vatican.
“In December last year they withdrew from both. Their first demand was that the President resign, which left little room to establish any dialogue. They started this year with a lot of violence. If you search on Google, all the news is negative: total destruction; Venezuela is a disaster; violence everywhere. Never do any of these reports mention the President was elected. Never that the opposition parties now are responsible for the violence. They are receiving a lot of financing from the United States directly and, of course, that part of the information is also not in the media.”
Elaborating on what she described as the manipulation at play in the country’s political affairs, Escalona highlighted the repeated interference in internal affairs of Venezuela by organizations including the OAS (Venezuela has withdrawn its membership) and the United States Department of State, which she said intended to position the opinion matrix toward a strong dictatorship in Venezuela relating to public powers and freedoms.
Just this month, the ambassador said, the CIA admitted working closely with Colombia and Mexico to overthrow Venezuela’s President Nicolás Madura. Director Mike Pompeo stated that he was optimistic about the removal of the Venezuelan President from power, and instilling a government of transition in that country. His remarks came during a forum on regional security held in Aspen, Colorado. News websites including The Independent have since published reports underscoring America’s “long and bloody history of meddling in Latin America’s affairs.”
“The real leaders of the opposition in Venezuela is the United States of America,” Escalona said. “We don’t have leaders of opposition in Venezuela . . . they don’t have the real reason; it is not democratic, it’s all unconstitutional. All their decisions, when you check the activity or whatever they decide, it is totally out of the constitution.
“I think we have the great opportunity to transform the state, but I am sure they [the opposition] received a lot of money, and they have to pay back with violent acts. We have to reduce that. Our national police, our national armed forces, have to stop this kind of violence and for this reason we need the new proposal to maintain the peace, and guarantee justice in Venezuela.”
With the fight for liberties by Venezuelan heroes such as military and political leader Simón Bolívar, and former President Hugo Chavez not far from the minds of most Venezuelans and, even more deeply rooted, the coup d’état of 2002 which resulted in then President Hugo Chavez being kidnapped and eventually returned, Escalona believes it is time for due process to be allowed to take its course.
“It is just the radical opposition groups trying to interrupt this magnificent process,” she said, “because for us it is magnificent. I have to highlight that we don’t have the perfect constitution. When we had the coup d’état in 2002, this constitution was approved in 1999. At that moment, we didn’t have the possibility to stop one act like this. We have to incorporate in our constitution the protection for our state, for our formal estate, for our formal government and institutions. I think we will have to work a lot in that regard.”
Despite what is going on in her country at this time, during her interview with the STAR this week the Venezuelan ambassador spoke with confidence that things were about to improve. “We are a strong people,” she said.
The Venezuelan government is committed to ensuring the safety of voters in Sunday’s election and reportedly has taken special measures, including the deployment of officers in the various voting centres. Sunday’s election will be covered live and in English on Latin American news stations such as Telesur. The country will go to the polls again in 2018, at which time Nicolás Madura will be retained or replaced!