Venezue­lan Am­bas­sador: ‘We Are A Strong Peo­ple!’

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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

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!

Venezue­lan Am­bas­sador Leiff Escalona is hop­ing that Sun­day's elec­tion will pave the way to peace in her coun­try.

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