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Exiled Venezuelan Journalists Seek to Reverse the Irreversible

By: Anneke Ball - @annekeball - Jul 15, 2014, 3:01 pm

EspañolVenezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution faces one of the toughest periods in its 15-year history. Doubts are also growing regarding whether its leader, Nicolás Maduro, will remain in power.

With this backdrop, El Nuevo Herald and the Association of Venezuelan Journalists Abroad (APEVEXhosted the forum, “Venezuela 2015: The More Likely Scenarios.” It went ahead on Friday in Miami, and approximately 100 participants discussed the economic, social, and political crisis in Venezuela that could potentially bring down Maduro’s regime. 

The panel included four distinguished analysts and high-profile representatives from Venezuela’s political opposition: Carlos Vecchio, national coordinator of the Venezuelan Popular Will Party (VP); Horacio Medina, representative of the Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD); Beatrice Rangel, former chief of staff of Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez; and Diego Arria, former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations.

According to Vecchio, the crisis in Venezuela has been most accentuated by human rights abuses and attacks on the very foundations of democracy: “The majority of the Venezuelan people believe the one who is in power does not know how to handle Venezuela’s problems,” said Vecchio. Now in exile, he affirmed the desperate need for a solution, that people need to “look for an exit to the crisis that Venezuela is currently going through.”

“In my opinion, we are facing an ‘irreversible’ [how Tibisay Lucena of the National Electoral Council would like to call it] political transition in Venezuela,” he added.

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Carlos Vecchio. (@MiamiDiario)

On February 12, Vecchio and opposition leaders María Corina Machado, Leopoldo López, and Antonio Ledezma led a series of peaceful protests known as “La Salida” against Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime.

“We are facing a crisis in Venezuela and the questions we asked ourselves were: What should we do? Should we remain quiet? Or should we let our voices be heard? As political leaders we had the moral duty to let the people’s will be heard,” said Vecchio.

On the other hand, former Petróleos de Venezuela (PDSVA) executive Horacio Medina said “Venezuela is going through the most devastating political crisis in our history … There is no democracy in Venezuela. what we have instead, is an authoritarian, militaristic government, with a very strong authoritarian conviction of power,” said Medina.

He added, “the regime still stands because we have yet to come up with a proper strategy.” He suggested the creation of a national union or alliance, “where we can discuss potential strategies and different alternatives to find our way back to democracy.”

Former Ambassador Diego Arria expressed support for the recent protests in Venezuela: “If there are no peaceful protests in Venezuela — to show the regime and the rest of the world that the majority of Venezuelans do not want the country to be handed over to the Cubans, disagree with the destruction of the economy, and with the climate of insecurity — then there will be no other alternatives”.

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Diego Arria (right) with one of the forum’s participant. (@Rafaelpineyro)

Arria also mentioned the importance of the international community’s support throughout the sought-after transition back to democracy for Venezuela. However, he felt compelled to criticize the international organizations’ lack of interest.

Arria mentioned that he supports the pending bill in the United States Senate that would freeze assets and ban visas for Venezuelan officials who are accused of human rights abuses.

The bill was approved by the US House in May, but it is yet to be approved by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party-dominated Senate.

Beatrice Rangel, one of the other panelists, affirmed the importance of the international community when she said “we need the international community to act as guardians [of democracy] in Venezuela, as all the institutions in Venezuela have been taken [by the regime] and cannot function properly.”

The Opposition’s Role in the 2015 Parliamentary Elections

“If we must, then we will participate in the elections,” proposed MUD representative Horacio Medina. However, Diego Arria criticized the possibility of presenting candidates for next year’s election: “Did the last elections help us in any way? No!” Arria reiterated that in the 2010 parliamentary elections the opposition received the majority of the votes with a 50.36 percentage. But changes to electoral rules gave the government 60 percent of the proportional seats.

“When we vote, we are being the government’s accomplices with our participation,” Arria asserted. He explained that Nicolás Maduro’s regime needs elections to appear as a “democratic” country to the international community.

The organizers did invite the Maduro administration to send a representative to the forum. However, due to “agenda conflicts” they declined the invitation.


2015 Venezuela Forum on video: the most likely scenarios.
Anneke Ball Anneke Ball

Anneke Ball is a Venezuelan student intern reporting from Washington D.C. She majors in journalism and mass communications with a focus in international economics. Follow @annekeball.