"Maduro is a fascist in his own right"
"Nicolás lacks what is needed for governance. He is the candidate of Raúl (Castro, the Cuban leader); I am the candidate of Venezuelans"
- You claim to be ready for being Venezuela's President. Why did you think it over? It was even thought that you weighed the possibility of not running for president.
- Never. Not only as regards the presidency, but also the fight. I considered the violations of the Constitution. For instance, the judgment (of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, TSJ), under which (Venezuela's acting President Nicolás) Maduro may be both the president and the candidate (for the ruling United Sociality Party of Venezuela, PSUV).
- Do you mean that you never ruled out the possibility of not being a presidential candidate?
- It is not a question of being or not a candidate. I appreciate the support of all the opposition coalition's political parties, but this goes beyond the candidacy. It is a question of principles, of fight and how to bring it forward to the country. This was what I pondered.
- Anyhow, was not your duty with that chunk of the country that voted you (in the past election for Venezuelan president)?
- I think so. It is truth, though, that we have all the odds stacked against us. Let me explain it to you. Imagine a soccer game. We are the Vinotinto (Venezuela's soccer team) and will face another team. However, our fans are not allowed to be on the grandstand. The referee favors the opposite team. You are losing at the outset. Only two minutes remain. What can you do?
- You have two choices: play or not play.
- I resolved to play. Let's score goals and cash in on the only advantage we have. Despite some media outlets have censored themselves and some journalists fear to do their work, the world is watching us. (...) Nicolás (Maduro) thinks he can lie at leisure, but lies are defeated with truth. Now, the electoral ambit is just a part of the fight.
- Never mind losing.
- I cannot say that; otherwise, I will discourage people and players will refuse to go out to the ground. There is a certain, clear and real chance of winning. This is in the election field, because the supreme goal is unifying Venezuela, changing Venezuelans' lives. And for such purpose, I propose four things: having cash in your pockets; being able to find foodstuffs and buying them, and sleeping in calm.
- You offered the same in the past election campaign. Did not you?
- No. This is a different game. I must be much clearer as to the target. I must give a better explanation to those who did not vote me.
- Therefore, the opponent was not the problem, but...
- I was a sum of things. I am ready to rectify whatever needed to be rectified. Some additional things are consistent with the fight. Right now, I will meet eyeball to eyeball with Nicolás. But Nicolás, come on... Nicolás is...
- A rather limited man?
- No. This would demean him as a person. Nicolás lacks what is needed to rule this country. Ask military officers or those who are close to him. Nicolás answers to many factors. There is much influence of the Castro brothers, particularly Raúl. He is Raúl's candidate. I am Venezuelans' candidate. Where do you think Nicolás takes all that melodramatic material from, to the point of sobbing in front of cameras? He has a Cuban advisor on dramatic arts. Nicolás forms part of the environment eager to rule, and that the (late) president (Hugo Chávez) used to criticize as incompetent and incapable.
- Why are you much more aggressive and upfront?
- I cannot remain calm if I see bare-faced lies.
- Did not Chávez lie?
- Regardless of the perceived manipulation, there was some sincerity.
- Was Chávez an upright man?
- I think he vehemently advocated many things.
- What about Maduro?
- He is a lousy imitation of Chávez.
- Would you to consider same-sex marriage?
- This is a pending debate, because nobody may be excluded in a society.
- So, other similar cases must be pondered.
- Such debates should be open to the society. Provided, always, in the context of priorities. First thing is ensuring everybody's life. In a country where 21,000 people are killed in a year, immediate action must be taken. Otherwise, discussing such issues makes no sense. That is impossible in a scared, fearful society. Now, I think like a progressive leader.
- Do you mean that Maduro is the right-wing one?
- He is a fascist in his own right. Pay attention to him and you will find that the contents of his speeches are of a fascist nature, as that of many of those who are in the government.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
As late as Tuesday, February 25, there was some visible response from Gabriela Ramírez's office. Representatives of the Office of the Ombudswoman would visit independent human rights watch groups to find what happened in connection with repression of protests. That day, they visited NGO Provea. The next day, they met with the attorneys of NGO Venezuelan Criminal Forum. They pursued specific data because -they argued- no claims of human rights violations of demonstrators had been filed with the Office of the Ombudswoman.