Venezuelan Ambassador to the EU : “We will not accept an external agenda”

Submitted by tortilla on Vie, 08/02/2019 – 10:16 —

The building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Interview with Claudia Salerno, Venezuelan Ambassador to the EU: “We will not accept an external agenda”.

The eyes of the world are once again on Venezuela. After being appointed president of the National Assembly on January 23 opposition leader Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself the “temporary president” of the Venezuelan government. The United States and a group of European and Latin American countries immediately expressed their support, basing his legitimacy on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The issue is that Guaidó says President Nicolas Maduro is a “usurper who has abandoned his post,” while the Supreme Court of Justice has already declared any decision by the National Assembly “null and void.” In this context of great urgency and international pressure on her country, Ms. Claudia Salerno, Venezuelan Ambassador to the European Union, has granted us an exclusive interview. Hers is a voice of dignity breaking through the media’s all-out assault on Venezuela.
Alex Anfruns: The governments of 19 European Union (EU) countries gave Venezuela an ultimatum this past Monday, February 4: either call for presidential elections within eight days, or they will recognize Juan Guaidó as temporary president of Venezuela. What is your reaction to that statement?
Claudia Salerno : Our president Nicolás Maduro and our Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza have given a clear answer. Venezuela is a sovereign country, with its own system of laws and a Constitution in force, adopted in 1999, which clearly establishes the mechanisms for calling elections. There is absolutely nothing in the national Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that establishes elections at the behest of European countries. We have been independent for more than two hundred years, we do not take instructions from Europe. It is scandalous that Europe should stoop to this illegal recognition. In practice this means nothing more than supporting the person designated by the United States to carry out a coup d’état in Venezuela. That [intent] has been clearly stated by the US government through all its spokespersons—from President Donald Trump to his Secretary of [State]—that armed options are on the table in order to bring about regime change. So the EU’s call for elections is nothing more than parroting Donald Trump.

There is absolutely nothing in the national Constitution to justify an individual, not even the President of the National Assembly (a post that Juan Guaidó holds for one year) raising his hand in a plaza to proclaim himself interim president. Such a mechanism does not even exist in our national Constitution. At any rate, if we were actually without a President of the Republic, which is not the case now, the Constitution would require the holding of elections within a period not to exceed thirty days. Not calling for elections, but holding them. And this is not the case; this interim person is being proposed to have a permanent presence. So clearly, those EU countries that have recognized him are violating international law, because according to international law, relations are between States, not between States and governments. By acting in this way, these countries are succumbing to a blatant, vulgar, and legally questionable coup attempt; they are simply going along with the US policy of interference. It is nothing more than a coup d’état for regime change. We in Venezuela are going to use our government, our authorities, and our army to reject this foreign agenda—an attempt to openly truncate and violate out national Constitution.
Alex Anfruns: Juan Guaidó was an unknown until very recently in Europe—and perhaps even in Venezuela. He uses Article 233 of the Constitution to justify his self-proclaimed Presidency. That interpretation by the Venezuelan opposition is spreading abroad. Is it correct that the Constitution has such a provision to demand a change of government?
Claudia Salerno : No, it is absolutely wrong and false. Article 233 regulates absolute vacancies in the office of President of the Republic. None of those circumstances have occurred. The President has not died, resigned, or been removed by decree of the Supreme Court of Justice; the Court has not declared him to be permanently physically unfit, nor has he left office. So none of these situations has occurred. But even if any of them had, the Article is clear that if an absolute vacancy occurs before inauguration, that is, before January 10, the Presidency would be assumed by the President of the National Assembly. But that situation did not occur either, because Mr. Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself President on January 23. That is to say, long after the inauguration of President Nicolás Maduro. The second possibility would have been if the vacancy had occurred after the inauguration. The person who would have assumed the office of President in charge—and not “interim President” because such a figure does not exist—would have been the Vice-President or Executive Vice-President. In this case it is Ms. Delcy Rodríguez. No other situation is possible. Under the article of the Constitution that the EU, and Mr. Guaidó himself, are now using to argue that Mr. Guaidó is President, the person who would assume the office of “President in Charge”—which is not the same as being President—if there were an absolute vacancy, is Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez. There is no other interpretation.

Now the EU is trying to give its own interpretation of the Constitution to suit its purposes. On the one hand, the EU says that there was an absolute vacancy in the office of President prior to the inauguration because it does not recognize the elections of 20 May 2018. The question everyone is asking is: if this absolute vacancy occurred when the elections took place, why did you wait so long to declare there was a vacancy? The National Assembly had more than six months to debate the issue. Why did it wait until January 23 to say there was no president? That shows that an agenda had been laid out for a perfectly structured coup d’état.

The second question that needs to be asked is: Why does the EU say that Mr Guaidó can call elections within 30 days, 90 days, or a year? That is to say, when the conditions are met for those elections to please the EU… But what does the EU think? Do you think that any country in the world or group of countries could say to another “it seems to me that your Constitution means this…”? They only care about a few elements of Article 233 which they use as a justification. But it is clear that this article does not establish any basis for Guaidó to be doing what he is doing. That is why we must not disguise it. It is a coup d’état. They may cite an article of the Constitution to justify the coup, but if we analyze it, it is clear that there is no room for the interpretation that they are using in the National Assembly.

Their betrayal of our homeland is so flagrant that yesterday they endorsed a law which would allow Guaidó’s term to be extended for 30 days every 30 days. It is renewable every month… A level of audacity you wouldn’t even see in an apartment lease agreement! They are settling in while they break the law to carry out a parliamentary coup. By the way, our system is presidential, not parliamentary, and it clearly establishes a separation of powers. Mr Guaidó now says that he holds the office of President of the Republic—the Executive Branch—at the same time he is President of the Legislative Branch. That is not possible under the Venezuelan Constitution, so the coup d’état could not be more blatant. (read more)

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