"One of our goals for the December 8 election is to replace the gov't"

"We are facing a despotic, deceitful, and corrupt government and witnessing how our Republic vanishes"

Saturday October 19, 2013  12:00 AM
María Corina Machado does not like to beat around the bush and claims that the "country is desperately crying out for a change." In her opinion, opposition leaders must focus their strategy on following a trail that starts with the belief that massive participation will take place on December 8 to defeat the government and immediately give way to conditions for an "immediate exit," within the scope of Constitutional law, through either a Constituent Assembly or resignation by Nicolas Maduro.
- Have you picked up on warning signals, on the government's behalf, that may lead to the possibility of suspending the elections?
- With the December 8 closing in, we all know that suspending the vote or scheming up an outright fraud should not be excluded from the options of the National Electoral Council (CNE). Therefore, those possibilities cannot be discarded because defeat at the ballots would the most costly scenario for the regime.
- What do you make of the fact that Maduro steered free from electoral issues during his long speech?
- It seems odd because, for them, it is a life-or-death matter. Many debate whether it would be convenient or not to turn the process into a referendum; I think it is a futile discussion because whoever wins will try to interpret it that way. The major issues ailing the country are shortages, inflation, an ongoing energy crisis, and collapsing health services. But are mayors in charge of addressing those issues? Obviously not, but because their roots trace back to the national government, that is where the solution must stem from.
- Nevertheless, the implied message of the opposition is that on December 8 political change will take place, transcending the outcome of municipal elections. The problem is that no one is pausing to explain how.
- That is the key aspect of our current political leaders. As a society, we must understand the scope of the historic challenge that lies ahead. We are facing a despotic, deceitful, and corrupt government and witnessing how our Republic vanishes.
- Can that be solved through elections?
- A decomposition process, intentionally spurred on, has been spawning in recent times. It so happens, however, that at the same time the deepest civic values have emerged in response to attempts to subdue us spiritually and morally. In this context, December 8 must represent not only a change in local authorities but also the start of a trail leading to a change in regime and the development of a different country.
- What ground needs to be covered on that trail, taking into account that change has to be democratic and that this government has been in office for only six months?
- We are all aware of this government's degree of illegitimacy as a result of electoral fraud, as well as the way in which it has exercised its power. In addition, its links to the worst mafias and organized-crime networks must be taken into account. We know that drug trafficking has seeped through our institutions, and many people in high places of public authority have been involved.
- Would this situation justify an action not established in the Constitution?
- The Constitution does establish ways to do so, but you asked me about the possible trail, and I believe that it is comprised of four stages. The first one is fundamental, and it is the need to understand the scope of the risk and the responsibility upon us. This implies understanding that Venezuela is desperately crying out for a deep, immediate, peaceful, and constitutional change.
- You spoke of the trail toward change.
- The second stage, obviously, is victory on December 8, and that requires massive participation and defense of votes, as well as strong, clear and more organized mobilization, during and after the elections, a lesson we learned last April 14. The third stage is immediate substitution of the government. The Constitution establishes the means to do so: either resignation or a Constituent Assembly, which must be activated by the people.
- Parallel to that trail you paint as a way out, a process to concentrate power is under way. Maduro recently spoke of the need for the country to prepare itself psychologically for what he labeled as a giant Maoist-inspired leap. If both factors come together at the time of the elections, what could happen?
- The official sector knows well what it has done. It is aware of the degree of deterioration throughout the country, to the extent that liquid reserves sit below USD 800 million dollars, a figure that can show up in any of the accounts held by these people. They also know of civic commotion taking place, the events in Sidor, CVG and Cariaco, in terms of communities that cannot be subdued even if tanks are shoved in front of them. They ultimately face a dilemma: either they take drastic corrective measures in their policies or they rage on in a path of brutal repression. The former is encumbered by a serious issue: it goes against their values.
- Values or lack thereof?
- Those are the values they stand up for: absolute control of power, preeminence of the State over individuals and annihilation of any aspiration to make progress. We have thus been divided at all levels: spiritually, religiously, racially, generationally, and ideologically. Then, they have generated fear and attempt to extend it to every home in the country. Finally, demoralization in its two facets is let loose: despair on one side and the feeling that we live in a degraded society like the one Maduro depicted in his speech before the National Assembly: "Corruption invaded us, and we are all up to our neck in this filth." They want us to lose moral authority, which is our sole true strength. Therefore, behind the Enabling Law, hides the intention of applying brutal repression because the government will never stand corrected; its problems will accentuate, and they will have not choice but to criminalize protests.
- What values do you stand for?
- The ones we share with the vast majority, even those that sympathize with the official sector: effort, hard work, honesty, solidarity, justice, and loyalty amongst Venezuelans. These are the reasons why we strive forward, and that is what we can rely on at this stage.

Translated by Félix Rojas Alva