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As dreadful for the whole world, the year 2020 has been relatively benevolent to Venezuela. Of course, the blockades and attacks from abroad have not ceased, and at times have even intensified. But the Bolivarian Revolution, which has reached its 22nd year, is already entrenched in these battles. The remarkable thing is that here, contrary to what has happened in almost all of Latin America and in particular in the neighboring countries (Colombia, Brazil), the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control. Few infections, low mortality. While the economy, for its part, in very difficult circumstances, is experiencing a spectacular upturn. With an unprecedented increase in agricultural production and commercial activities. In addition, the new legislation is favoring a significant influx of foreign investment. These new airs, after several years of difficulties, have been politically translated by a resounding victory of Chavism, last December 6, in the legislative elections.
Attacked with such inclemency for years, President Nicolas Maduro enjoys this sweet moment when, in addition, two of his main adversaries successively bite the dust. On the domestic scene: the extremist opposition led by Juan Guaidó, defeated on December 6 and democratically expelled from the National Assembly. On the foreign scene: the leader of the international conspiracy, Donald Trump, electorally knocked out in the United States on November 3 and ousted from the game on January 20.
To talk about these issues, in the beautiful gardens of La Casona -which was once the official residence of the presidents of Venezuela and today is a cultural center open to the public-, we talked with Nicolás Maduro.
Mr. President, allow me first to thank you for the kindness of giving us this interview. It has become a tradition for us to meet every first of January to assess the past year and also for you to tell us how you see the prospects for the coming year.
This interview will be conducted around nine questions: three on domestic policy; three on economics; and three on international policy.
I would like to start with domestic policy. The year 2020, which has just ended, will be engraved in history as “the year of the Covid-19 pandemic” with a terrifying balance on a planetary scale, in terms of both infections and victims…. In this frightening panorama, the figures presented by Venezuela are very encouraging, very positive, and are among the best in the world? How do you explain these good results in spite of the blockades and unilateral coercive measures imposed against your country by the US and European authorities? Is there perhaps a “Venezuelan model” of struggle against the Covid?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, first I thank you for this opportunity, this window that you open for us to communicate with many honest people in the world, in Europe, in the United States, in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in Africa … These interviews are already part of a tradition to be published on January 1st and to start the new year 2021. In fact, we have made a great effort to treat the coronavirus. I could tell you that a Venezuelan model does exist. I humbly say so, because in Venezuela there is a free and quality public health system built in revolution. And because, in spite of the persecution and criminal sanctions that prevent us from buying medical equipment in the world; and that prevent us from acquiring, in a natural manner, the medicines that the country needs, we have managed to maintain, increase, and perfect the public health system founded by Commander Chávez. The “Misión Barrio Adentro” was the first step to build our primary system of family medicine with more than 14,000 ambulatory, with the family doctor, etc. All this with the support of Fidel Castro, of Cuba and, for the last sixteen years, of thousands of Cuban doctors and health care personnel… In the meantime, we have also trained thousands of doctors, nurses…
When, last March, Venezuela began to face the Covid, I remember articles from the Miami Herald, from the newspapers El País and ABC of Spain, from the New York Times, etc. which ‘predicted’, as always with Venezuela, the ‘collapse’ of Venezuelan society, the ‘collapse’ of our health system, they gave truly terrifying, tragic figures…
That psychological warfare has its effects… Because one reads those numbers and says: “My God, what’s going to happen?” In March, when it was known that it was a pandemic, well, we activated all the mechanisms of preventive medicine… We mobilized some 16,000 medical brigades – which are still active… – to go and pick up the cases with the PCR tests, the rapid tests, to go house to house, in the neighborhoods, in the communities…
We decided to provide comprehensive treatment to all patients of Covid… To all of them! And achieve their hospitalization in the public health system… And a small percentage in the private clinics, the private system with which we have established a perfect coordination, to give them treatment and hospitalization to 100 percent of the cases… Today, I can tell you that 95 percent of the cases of Covid that we have had -a hundred and a half thousand cases of contagion- in Venezuela, have been detected in time, have had hospital medical treatment and have had all their medicines.
We identified a group of the best national and world-wide medicines, and effectively we gave guaranteed integral treatment to all the patients: to the asymptomatic ones, to the lightly infected ones, to the moderately infected ones and, as it is natural, to the serious infected ones in its different modalities.
In addition, Venezuelan science has managed to create two medications: one called DR10, and the other that I call the “José Gregorio Hernández miracle drops,” which are two therapies that allow the coronavirus to be attacked and neutralized 100 percent. This is our small contribution…
These two medicines, are being certified by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and by the World Health Organization (WHO)… And very soon, the country will enter the phase of mass production, for national consumption, of these two medicines, which are truly encouraging.
When we speak of the “Venezuelan model”, we must also mention a formula that we created after the long voluntary quarantines during the months of March, April, May, June and July… Because, then, we were rehearsing a method, which is our method, which we call “7 + 7”: seven days of deep radical quarantine, always voluntary; and seven days of flexibilization. This has allowed us to combine indispensable protection with economic activity… The necessary economic recovery combined with the strict, voluntary quarantine to cut the cycles of contagion. This is how we have been building our method.
Where do we get it from, Ramonet? From the study of experiences in the world. From the study of positive experiences, as there have been in China, in Vietnam, in Cuba, in Nicaragua, in New Zealand, at a certain stage in South Korea… From these experiences and from the study of harmful experiences such as the United States, Brazil, Colombia, which have filled these sister countries with coronaviruses, disease and death. So we have achieved a balance between the necessary quarantine, the necessary care, the necessary discipline, with flexibility.
IR : It must also be said that Venezuela was the first country in the Americas, in the entire continent, to take quarantine measures? If I remember correctly, the WHO declared the pandemic on March 11, and here, the quarantine was decreed on March 13… That is, long before any other country in the region.
Nicolás Maduro: Yes, and we had great success with very few cases during the first three months. Then a phenomenon occurred: the massive return of thousands of Venezuelan migrants from Colombia, Ecuador, Perú… Fleeing the coronavirus, the violence, the “coronahunger”… Some came walking from Ecuador, from Peru, from Cali, from Medellin, from Bogota to the border.
We have received more than 270,000 Venezuelans, almost 250,000 of them from Colombia… A ‘wave’ that arrived in June, July… The border is very porous, very long too. And a large part of these migrants arrived by illegal means, through the “secondary trails”… That’s why we talk about “trailism”… Many of them came from Colombia, from Ecuador, from Peru and arrived directly to their communities… This led to an increase in the number of cases of Covid. Currently that is controlled. Today, I can say that, despite the fact that we made a total flexibilization in the month of December 2020 – necessary for the family, for the economy – we have a good level of control…
And now we have signed an agreement with Russia to buy 10 million doses of Sputnik-V vaccine. We are completing phase 3 studies of this Sputnik-V vaccine, which are very favorable. And we are going to start the vaccination phase. But you can’t deceive people: the vaccines are going to help, but they are only going to protect for six months to two years… It’s not forever… People must know that. Many people who are getting vaccinated right now in the world, are vaccinated with the expectation that it is the definitive end of all danger of getting Covid…. No, it’s an experiment. Mass vaccination is an experiment that will be evaluated…
IR: Mr. President, throughout the past year, attacks and sabotage – particularly against the electrical industry and the oil industry – directed and financed from abroad against the Bolivarian Revolution also continued. In that sense, the defeat of the armed incursion called ‘Operation Gedeon’, in May 2020, proved, once again, the soundness of the civil-military union. What are the keys to this union that seems to resist any test? What new armed threats do you fear against Venezuela and against yourself?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, we work a lot… First of all, we work with the word, with the example, with actions of permanent government. We work on the ideological, the political, the values in the whole society… Venezuela has shown, in this year 2020, again, the great strength of its new institutions, of the constitutional values. And it has proved a great strength of the conscience of the ‘civic-military-police union’ as I call it. Venezuela is subject to the attacks of a permanent war. No one should be left in any doubt that the US empire, as an empire, decided to reconquer, to recolonize Venezuela, to destroy our revolution, to destroy our institutions. During these four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, we have known an extremist version of the imperial policy against Venezuela. A total extremism… Trump authorized several times -that is going to be known in due course, Ramonet- my assassination. Trump liked blood, death… He had Soleimani and others killed. And on several occasions he authorized plans, coordinated with [President] Iván Duque of Colombia, to murder me. Those plans are still in effect today. We, from time to time, are discovering elements, and taking measures for the protection, not only of my life, of the life of my family, of the life of the high political-military command, of the life of the leadership of the country, of the life of the institutions.
We have recently dismantled a plan that was conceived in Riohacha, on Colombia’s Atlantic coast. There, on December 21, 2020, a meeting took place led by three Colombian intelligence officials closely linked to [former Colombian President] Álvaro Uribe Vélez, sent by Iván Duque to organize a plan to attack our Guri hydroelectric plant, to attack our refineries, to try to destroy, by means of an explosion, the seat of the National Assembly… That plan was called “Boycott of the National Assembly”.
We are dismantling it now, with evidence in our hands, with testimonies from the people who participated in that meeting in Riohacha. The Colombian government has kept silent, because we discovered the secret plan they had for these days of December and January. We are subjected to a permanent attack, to a permanent threat…But the key is consciousness. Undoubtedly, if we were asked: what is the key for the Bolivarian Revolution to continue standing? The answer is: truth; committed words; permanent action; having the political initiative? And the supreme conscience of the people, the high conscience of our Bolivarian National Armed Force.
This year a law was passed – the Constitutional Law that rules the Bolivarian National Armed Force – and in that law the doctrinal elements with which the Venezuelan soldier operates were expressed . Anti-imperialism, Bolivarianism, Latin Americanism were embodied … The Armed Force declared itself an anti-oligarchic Armed Force.
There are principles, key elements: work the conscience, work the values with the truth… This is a fundamental key to the civil-military-police union that supports, in permanent combat, our revolution.
IR: Mr. President, the legislative elections of December 6 gave a new and resounding victory to Chavismo and its allies. On January 5th, the mandate of the previous Assembly, dominated by the opposition, will end. And Chavism will retake control of the National Assembly. However, a part of the opposition refused to participate in these elections and does not recognize the results. What initiatives do you have to take to convince this opposition to participate in a new dialogue table to advance towards the definitive pacification of political life?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, indeed, an important part of the opposition has adopted the extremist vision imposed from Washington in this Trump era… But the Trump era is ending, and we are going to see how that part of the opposition reacts now. We have always held dialogues and negotiations with all the opposition, including the opposition that has excluded itself from the democratic political system of the country. We have even talked to them, inviting them to take their spaces. The Venezuelan opposition has followers, militants; it has voters. And well, they have the right to occupy their political spaces.
I hope that, with the installment of the new National Assembly next January 5 for the period 2021-2025… That is five years, from January 5, 2021 to January 5, 2026, is the constitutional mandate, and here the constitutional mandates are for five years for the Legislative Power, not a day more, not a day less. I hope that this National Assembly that is being installed will call for a great, inclusive, broad, very broad dialogue … I offer myself to participate as one more in that dialogue, sitting in a chair as one more; I take off my President’s epaulets and I sit there to contribute to the meeting and reconciliation of Venezuelans. And hopefully there will be good results from that dialogue called by the National Assembly. And that it becomes a political epicenter of dialogue, of reunion, of reconciliation.
Let’s hope that all the opposition participates in the 2021 elections for governors that we have and that are very important? They are constitutionally mandated… There are 23 local governments in the country.
The last time, Ramonet, that we fought against all the opposition united against the Bolivarian forces, was in an election of governors, on October 15, 2017. And out of 23 local governments, we won 19. We got 54 percent of the national vote. A tremendous victory. That was the last time we could measure ourselves. What’s more, I can add, we want to measure ourselves with all the opposition in all the states of the country, as they wish, in taekwondo, in boxing… as they wish, but in elections, in elections… Hopefully. Then, in 2022 comes the election of mayors in 335 municipalities, very important for the local government. And in 2022, I have to recall that on January 10, 2022, I will celebrate three years as President…
IR: There is a possibility for a recall…
Nicolás Maduro: Yes, there is the right to a recall referendum. If someone from the opposition wanted to collect the signatures, and if they collected them, complying with the constitutional and legal requirements, we, in 2022, would have a recall referendum, we would go and measure ourselves as well. And then, in 2024, whether it rains, thunders or flashes, there will be presidential elections in Venezuela.So we have a big electoral agenda, a political agenda, and beyond the electoral agenda, beyond the political agenda there is a recovery economic agenda, there is a social agenda, there is a moral agenda to fight corruption. I would like to talk about all these issues with all the opposition, and to be able to achieve consensus.
Now I honestly tell you Ramonet, you are a French-Spanish citizen, you know Europe very well. Much of the blame for the opposition’s extremism, for the opposition’s exclusion from the country’s political life, for the abandonment of its natural spaces and its voters, lies with the European Union and the governments of Europe. Not only Donald Trump, because the one who has followed Donald Trump has been the European Union, supporting all the policies of barbarism, of right-wing extremism, all the unwise, unpresentable policies… The only place in the world where the European Union supports those policies is in Venezuela. We will have to see why. A good part of the fact that the Venezuelan right wing, the opposition, enters into a policy of good sense, of participation, of dialogue, has to do with that European Union that influences so much in the minds of those political leaders of that sector of the opposition. Let us hope that the European Union will talk to them about dialogue and help them to reflect and rectify.
IR: We are going to talk about the economy now, I wanted to ask you the following: your government has decided, over the last year, to allow a partial dollarization of the economy, or rather the trade. Could you make an assessment of this dollarization? Why was this measure taken? What benefits has it brought? What inconveniences? Until when is it going to be maintained? And another question some analysts are posing: Revolution and dollarization, is there no contradiction?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, first, Venezuela is subject to a very particular situation. We are being pursued by all sources of funding. I could tell you, Ramonet, that practically the U.S. empire has prohibited the use of the dollar currency by the Venezuelan State… For you to see… I will cut your question short by telling you this great truth: Venezuela does not have the right to sell oil to the world and collect it in dollars. Venezuela does not have the right, as a State, to manage accounts to pay for medicines, food in the world… It does not have the right.
We have our ways of moving resources, but they all have to be atypical ways, parallel to the dollar world. All this shows how the dollar, how the US banking system is used to try to impose an economic model, a political model, a change of regime on Venezuela. That is the real truth.
We are in the midst of an economy of resistance, an economy of war. We have gone from 56 billion dollars of income in 2013, to less than 500 million dollars of oil income this year 2020. Let everyone draw their own conclusions. And in spite of that we have maintained the social welfare state as dictated by our Constitution. Here, free, quality public education for our people has been maintained in full. Here we have maintained and increased free, quality public health care. Here we have maintained the right to housing… We have a world record of housing construction and delivery… I have just delivered 3,400,000 houses… We build 1,095 social housing units per day… A record, a real world record. And here employment levels have been maintained.
What has collapsed? The national income and the income of the workers. The workers’ income has been harmed as a result of the destruction of 99 percent of the national income in foreign currency.
And in the midst of all this, what has happened? A previously surreptitious economy has emerged, now open and public, where the dollar is managed, especially at the commercial level. I have some numbers that, for the first time, I am going to give you officially. At the level of trade, and at the level of some activities, the dollar has served as an escape valve for income, for trade and for the satisfaction of needs of important sectors of Venezuelan life… It has been an escape valve
But I can give you data from this year 2020, you see? All the commercial activity is collected in these numbers. In 2020, I can tell you, particularly in the last two months of November and December, commercial activity in the country increased five times compared to last year. Quintupled in bolivars and in dollars.
Now, I can tell you that, in dollars -these data are fresh-, the relative importance of expenses made by households, according to the payment method used, I can tell you that 77.3 percent of commercial transactions in the country, in 2020, were made in Bolivars by digital payment methods. So you can still see the weight of the national currency, and we are going to recover it. Only 18.6 percent was made in cash in convertible currencies, mainly dollars… You can see here, for example, in the month of June, July the payments in foreign currency rose to more than twenty percent, but already the annual result is 18.6 percent of cash payment in dollars, in many activities of commercial centers, including street commerce, informal commerce… And 3.4 percent in physical bolivars, which you know they have a war on us against our physical currency. We are going, this year 2021, towards a deeper, more expanding digital economy… I have set the goal: 100 percent digital economy, that everyone has their payment methods in debit card, credit card…
IR: The physical money disappears, then, to some extent….
Nicolas Maduro: Disappears. For Venezuela it is a great advantage. We are even going to create some payment formats in digital currency, with a foreign currency savings account in the Venezuelan Bank. Savings accounts and current accounts in foreign currency are being authorized, and people will be able to pay at the price of the currency in Bolivars in the general market in the country. This means that the dollar is an escape valve. You cannot say that Venezuela is, like Ecuador for example, a dollarized economy. It does not depend on the U.S. Treasury Department like Panama. No. Venezuela has its currency, the Bolivar, and we are going to defend it in 2021 by improving the income. We have to improve the quality of the Venezuelan currency. We have to continue decreasing inflation, which is still very high, although we have been gradually controlling it? But it is difficult, due to the whole situation of national income… So we can’t talk about a dollarization of the whole economy. That’s why the question: Is there a contradiction between dollarization and revolution? The answer is, as far as we can see: no. There is rather complementarity.
IR: Mr. President, Venezuela has been a victim of a spectacular theft of its assets abroad. You have been robbed, in particular, the Citgo company in the United States, and also the gold reserves stored in London. What initiatives has your government taken to recover these assets? What is the situation at present? What hopes do you have of recovering them?
Nicolás Maduro: We always have hope, because we have the legal reason, we have the national, republican reason. These are the Republic’s assets. The gold in London belongs to the Republic, managed by the Central Bank of Venezuela. The frozen bank accounts in Portugal, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, France, the United States, are bank accounts of almost 30 billion dollars that if activated and restored would constitute an immediate injection of recovery and economic revival of Venezuela, only with the restoration of that money.
Citgo, a company with eight thousand gas stations in the United States, has been stolen from us… It’s frozen, stolen by the Trump clan, stolen from us by the Trump clan, they’ve had their eye on it since Donald Trump became president with his business group to steal Citgo from us… With the complicity of these sneaky bandits, thieves, from the Venezuelan extreme right, headed by Juan Guaidó… They stole Citgo. There is hope for its restoration.
We have had difficulties in the defense of Venezuela and its interests because we have even been restrained to pay international law firms. Because, I insist, they blocked and stole our accounts.
But, well, in Venezuela we always find a way to get good law firms, to get brave, knowledgeable, capable lawyers? And to defend our interests a new National Assembly is coming now… And the National Assembly, which was the epicenter of the plundering, of the dispossession, of the robbery of Venezuela, is leaving… This is going to change the situation a lot because a new National Assembly with full legislative powers is coming and I believe that this is going to help us advance in the goal of recovering what belongs to the Republic. It does not belong to Maduro, it does not belong to a group, it is the patrimony of the Republic, it is money and patrimony of all Venezuelans, of all Venezuelan women.
IR: Mr. President, in the current difficult national and international economic situation, marked by the consequences, as you point out, of both the blockade and the pandemic, what would be the main issues to be resolved in order to boost your country’s economic growth? To what extent can the recent vote on an “anti-blockade” law contribute to this?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, we are trained in difficulties. The Liberator called himself the “man of difficulties”. And we call our people the “people of difficulties”. We have already been pointing out and directing a recovery plan that has had as its axis, this week, the Anti-Blockade Law.
The Anti-Blockade Law plays the role of a great matrix axis in the process of recovering national income. And with the recovery of national income we must go recovering the factors and balances of the macroeconomy. To recover the income of the workers, and to maintain a process of recovery of the national internal market.
I can give you an important piece of information about how, in the year 2020, we have advanced in the process of installing an alternative economy, a post-rentist economy, a productive economy… We have increased food production by 400,000 tons, for example, and we have surpassed the levels of shortage of products and food that existed three, four or five years ago. With national production.
I would like to congratulate the businessmen and producers, the agro-industry… We are now making the plan for the CLAP 2021… Today I approved the plan for the CLAP 2021, which means the monthly food market for 7 million households…
To be understood: the CLAPs are the Local Supply and Production Committees that constitute a fundamental instrument in the food market. That we certainly need to improve, to increase… We will be talking about this in January, the Ministry of Food, the Executive Vice President… I have already approved the lines of work for the national production of all the CLAPs, of all the food supplied to the 7 million national households. Before, we imported 60 or 70 percent of that food… So, from 2021 onwards, with the Anti-Blockade Law, we are going to be recovering national income, regaining macroeconomic balance, containing inflation even more next year and resuming real economic growth, of the real economy.
The year 2021 marks the beginning of a new progressive, sustained, true growth, I tell you, of the real economy, of the productive economy. Not of the economy of papers, of speculation, of lies, of fakes, no, it is the growth of the economy that produces grains, milk, meat, corn, arepas, clothing, oil, gold, etc. Of the real economy.
I think that all this cruelty that has been inflicted on Venezuela has left us with great lessons, and we have got on the track of developing our own, true economy, which is going to be very strong, very powerful, you will see, and on top of that we are giving an example to the world. We can be banned from the dollar, we can be banned from financing and refinancing in the Western banking system, we can be persecuted and our accounts taken away, but we have not been stopped and will never be stopped. And what emerges here is going to give an example to the world that another world is possible, that it is enough with the dollar blackmail and the financial system of the International Monetary Fund… In Venezuela we are demonstrating, in resistance, in a very tough resistance, that another world is possible. We are going to move forward, you are going to see it.
IR: Mr. President, let’s talk now about international politics and let’s start by talking about Latin America. Something is changing in Latin America. The progressive governments of Mexico and Argentina have been joined by the recent victory of the MAS in Bolivia, the success of the plebiscite in Chile, the defeat of Bolsonaro in the municipal elections in Brazil, the popular revolt in Peru, the protests in Guatemala and Colombia, the reasonable prospects for victory of the candidate Araúz in the upcoming presidential elections in Ecuador, and the resounding victory of chavism in the legislative elections of December 6 in Venezuela? All this creates a very different atmosphere from that which existed recently when some spoke of an “end to the progressive cycle”… How do you see the geopolitical situation in Latin America for this 2021 that is beginning?
Nicolás Maduro: Well, I can say that the radical popular movements of struggle, the so-called progressive movements, the movements of the left, the revolutionary movements are a reality in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are the alternative of our peoples, each one with its own profile, its characteristic, its discourse, its leadership… One cannot, for example, compare the leadership of the popular movements in Colombia with that of Ecuador, or Venezuela, or Brazil… Each one has its profile, its texture, its aesthetics, its speech, its courage, its opportunities but, without a doubt, from Mexico to La Patagonia and all over the Caribbean there is a powerful popular movement, radical, rebellious. There is a powerful progressive movement and a powerful leftist movement. There is a powerful revolutionary leadership.
At the forefront is ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. The victory in Bolivia was a great victory of ALBA and, well, a great alliance for peace, social development, the life of our peoples is being recomposed. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Caribbean with our Caribbean leaders, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, are undoubtedly in the vanguard. The great deep, true alliance that has been maintained in the face of threats, in all circumstances.
ALBA has always been on its feet. The ALBA rose as a result and product of the first wave led by Chávez in this era, the first wave, which led to the historic meeting of Chávez and Fidel, which led to the return to power of Sandinismo, which led to the victory of Evo, of Correa, which led to the victory of Kirchner . Well, from that first wave the ALBA emerged and there it is firm, strong… And now, without a doubt, I see a second wave coming. The second wave of progressive, popular, nationalist, Latin Americanist governments…
There is a second wave coming that is in full development, why is this second wave coming? because neoliberal capitalism is exhausted… Neoliberal capitalism generates poverty, exclusion, repression… There we see Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, all the Pacific wing: repression, misery, unemployment… Colombia this year had more than 90 massacres… More than 250 FARC ex-combatants murdered… And what does the media say, what does the world say… They keep quiet… Then the repressive, anti-popular, excluding and misery generating model, neo-liberal capitalism has no answer for the peoples… It is a very deep exhaustion, and the natural thing is that new leaderships will emerge that will surprise not only Latin America and the Caribbean but also the world.
We are moving into a second wave, I do not say this simply out of optimism, out of faith – which I have, I am an optimistic man, of faith, of faith in the peoples, of faith in the struggle, faith in the history of our countries – I say this as a result of direct observation of reality and with the data that you, even, have contributed in your question.
IR: Mr. President, in recent years, while the hostility towards Venezuela on the part of Washington and many European capitals has increased, your government has strengthened ties with several powers such as China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, India and others that have defended Venezuela’s sovereignty. Could you tell us what are the prospects for cooperation and development projects with these powers?
Nicolás Maduro: We are open to the world. Without a doubt, our relations are special with the Russian Federation, with the People’s Republic of China, with the Islamic Republic of Iran, with Cuba… They are also special with India, everyone knows my great identity with India, with its spirituality, with its people… And with many other countries. With Turkey, with my brother President Erdogan… And with Africa, with many countries in the world we have great and excellent relations.
We want these relationships to be consolidated; we will continue to work. Thanks to the Anti-Blockade Act, spectacular progress has already been achieved in new alliances in various fields of investment in the economy… I cannot say much, that is the characteristic of the Anti-blockade Law, to do without saying, and to say when it has already been done. That is the principle: to do, to do, to advance without saying anything, to avoid the imperialist war, to neutralize it, and to say later, when everything is already accomplished and done, when I have the achievement here in hand. Now, in this same line of the Anti-Blockade Law, I also invite investors from Latin America, from Mexico, from Panama, our brother investors from Colombia, from Brazil, from Argentina, from all Latin America and the Caribbean, from the United States: Come, here there is a world to invest with special conditions… If anyone has harmed investors of all kinds, the debt holders of the United States, if anyone has harmed them it is Donald Trump and his stubborn and extremist policy against Venezuela.
Because American investors have the doors open here to invest in oil, gas, petrochemicals, telecommunications, tourism, finance, anything they want. Trump has done a great deal of damage to debt holders… And I can also tell you, for the first time, that we, the debt holders, by commitment of the Republic, paid them in the period 2014-17 more than 76 billion dollars. And with Commander Chávez, in the 2010-2013 period, we paid up to 56 billion dollars… Do the math, as a friend of mine says, do the math: 76 thousand plus 56 thousand are 132 thousand million dollars that we paid from 2010 to 2017 until Trump arrived…
Those were the profits of the financial investors… Debt holders lost everything when they froze our accounts, when they attacked our oil revenues… I have reiterated to all debt holders, to all U.S. investors, our willingness to negotiate and renegotiate, and to honor all of our commitments from now on. Reaching agreements… We have the best relations… They know that we pay well, that we are reliable, trustworthy people for financial and economic activity, they know it, and they know that Trump has done a great deal of damage to their investments, they know it perfectly.
There are investors, Ramonet, who even represent groups, unions of American pensioners, social groups in the United States that bought, for reliability, Venezuelan debt bonds and now, look, they were broken by Trump, destroyed by Trump. Another world is possible even in this respect.
So I send a message, I take advantage of your question to send a message to all the investors of the world: we are ready, prepared, we have the Anti-Blockade Law, there is the new National Assembly that is going to develop a set of laws to facilitate all that is investment in the Venezuelan economic activity, Venezuela is open to the world for investment.
IR: Mr. President, precisely the recent electoral defeat of Donald Trump in the United States and the imminent arrival of the new Democratic Administration of President Joe Biden constitute a particular moment of change in international political life. What do you expect from this new American Administration? What welcoming message do you send to Joe Biden?
Nicolás Maduro: On this subject I am compelled to be cautious… It does not mean that I do not have a clear thought, I do, about the changes in the United States, about the resounding defeat of Donald Trump. Trump is leaving… We will see if with Trump’s departure his harmful and extremist policies against Venezuela will also cease… We will see… There is a lot of lobbying. I was informed yesterday about this thief and murderer named Leopoldo López: he is hiring, in Washington, two lobbying companies close to the Democratic Party to begin to lobby in favor of right-wing Venezuelan extremism before the new Biden government. You know that U.S. policy moves on the basis of lobbying. It is even legal… Now they are hiring new lobbyists linked to Biden, linked to the new Secretary of State [Anthony Blinken] appointed by Biden, so, well, let’s hope that January 20 comes, that President Joe Biden is sworn in and we follow our course.
I have always said: let’s hope that with Trump’s departure his extremist and cruel policies against Venezuela will go away, let’s hope, and let’s reestablish the dialogue with Biden and the United States based on a constructive agenda. Hopefully, hopefully. In the meantime let us wait, in the hands of God always we, depending on our own efforts . I always say to the Venezuelan people, to the people of the world: let’s not depend on anyone, let’s always depend on our own effort, let’s depend on our own thought, on our own word, the rest is profit, as our people say. May it be for the good, the change in the United States, for humanity, and may it be for the good of Venezuela as well. This is what I wish.
IR: Thank you very much Mr. President, we have reached the end of this interview, it only remains for me to wish a happy new year to you, your family and, certainly, to Venezuela and all its population.
Nicolás Maduro: Well, thank you very much for this opportunity. Before the flood of lies, of manipulations, of attacks that there are in the world press… I see all the time, in the press and on television in Madrid, attacks and attacks… Madrid has become the epicenter of the ultra-right wing attack against Venezuela, one reads the “New York Times”, the “Miami Herald”, the Colombian press and the world in general: merciless, incessant, inclement attacks… But well, here is our truth and for our truth we give our lives; and with our truth we go on the roads to the future.
The year 2021, will be the bicentennial of the Battle of Carabobo, will be an iconic year. It was set by Comandante Chávez himself: “In 2021, 200 years after Carabobo, Chávez said, we must arrive free, independent and sovereign. And so we arrive: free, independent, sovereign in resistance, but also in victory. Happy New Year.
IR: Thank you President, we meet on January 1, 2022.
Nicolás Maduro: Ready, approved.