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Yvan Gil: Constituant Assembly to Resolve the Crisis in Venezuela

Translated Saturday 10 June 2017, by David Murphy

In the last two months in Caracas, the Venezuelan opposition organises demonstrations almost daily. The clashes have left up to 60 dead. We interview the Vice-Minister for Europe, Yvan Gil, who is on a European tour, and pose questions concerning Venezuela.

President Maduro reads a document on the details of his project for a Constituant Assembly, 24 May 2017, in Caracas.

C. Barria/Reuters

How do you explain the crisis that has hit Venezuela?

It is the result of a confrontation between 2 model countries. On one side, there is the "robber" model operated by the United States, interested in Venezuelan oil. There is always a beneficiary class in this sort of politics. A very powerful class that controls the means of production, communication and finance. On the other side, we find an emerging and popular class that supports the demand for sovereignty over oil resources, a demand with its origins in the Chavez Movement.

Since the death of President Hugo Chavez, who exercised a very powerful leadership, this confrontation has taken on a more violent form. The powerful class had initiated a process of economic sabotage, financial blockades and violence in the street. They have not succeeded in defeating us, even if they had a circumstantial success for the Right in the legislative elections in 2015. It’s to resolve this crisis that President Nicolas Maduro convened a Constituant Assembly. We raise the question of State transformation in order to advance.

The Right has said that it are no longer rebellious. Has it become democratic?

The Right has never recognised Nicolas Maduro’s victory in 2013, despite the fact that we recognized the opposition’s victory in the National Assembly. Since then, they have been trying to remove the president, even though this does not fall under their jurisdiction. They have called upon the armed forces to organise a coup d’état. They have demanded an anticipated general election, even though this is not provided for in the Constitution.

In most states, the government is responsable before Parliament. How do you envisage such change in the context of the Constituant Assembly?

In Venezuela, the government answers to the President. Even if the opposition were to block all the functions of the State, the President does not have the power to dissolve the National Assembly. On the other hand, he convenes a Constituant Assembly for the citizens to resolve the conflicts between powers. This is the choice made by Nicolas Maduro. As during the fundamental changes to the law in 1999, the Constituant Assembly will carry on its parliamentary work in parallel to the existing public powers, which will continue to function.

The new Constitution will be submitted to a referendum?

It has not yet been defined as to whether this Assembly will choose to draw up a new Constitution. In the past, when there have been changes to the Constitution, there has been a referendum. If the Assembly proposes a change to the Constitution, there will be a referendum.

You speak of two classes. There isn’ t a majority within the members of the dominant class. So how did the Right obtain more than 50% of the legislative vote in 2015?

By an economic war of sabotage and financial blockades. Public services and distribution were affected, causing discontent with our supporters, who didn’t vote for the Right, but ended up abstaining.

Isn’t the problem for Venezuela that it hasn’t been able to get out of it’s dependance on income from petrol?

This isn’t a new question. It’s lasted for over 100 years. The Constitution of 1999 was a success concerning the redistribution of income but it was difficult to develop a new economic model. Yet President Chavez did a lot to diversify the economy, via investment in agriculture and industry. Up until now, the priority has been to resolve the question of the impoverished millions of Venezuelans inherited from the 4th Republic. President Maduro wants a post-oil model that relies less on petrol and looks into new sources of riches. He intends to implement Chavez’ plan for our land, which traces a route out of this dependance on oil revenues, but this route has been blocked by economic sabotage.

You are on a European tour. What do the governments make of the repression you face in your country?

Most of the European governments adopt a position aligned with the media and the imperial powers. We’ve explained to them that we have no interest in aligning our policies to that of the United States. In certain countries, the Venezuelan community has considerable economic power. They have succeeded at generating false information. In others, Venezuela is instrumentalized in order to attack forces on the Left. We are dealing with a well-organized war laboratory, which produces images, and isolated statements through the media. President Chavez used to say that he was fighting a Bogota-Miami-Madrid axis. Columbia, the United States and Spain are the economic centres that have a strong interest in Venezuela and practice the manipulation of information 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

In your opinion, does the Bolivian revolution have a future?

This is a period in which we are on the offensive. As we were taught by Commander Chavez, as in 1998, we are conducting an electoral battle, a battle of ideas. We put forward our propositions for State Reform. What does the opposition propose on this subject? For our part, we want to have a constitutional debate to descend, to take place in the lower classes, amongst the trade unionists, in the factories and the fields. We call for debates, discussions, criticism, to advance the reform of the State.


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