While in Caracas, Venezuela participating in the #TodosSomosVenezuela 2018 international solidarity conference, Fire This Time sat down with two of the 537 newly elected members of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, which is now tasked with improving and broadening the Venezuela Constitution and strengthening the Bolivarian revolutionary process. We discussed the necessity of the National Constituent Assembly, the #TodosSomosVenezuela conference and the importance of international solidarity with the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Below are some excerpts from the interviews.
Rafael Argotty – Representative of Pensioners, Capital Region
FTT: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Please introduce yourself and let us know why you chose to run to be a member of the National Constituent Assembly.
Rafael Argotty: I'm Rafael Argotty. I am a civil engineer in hydraulics, I am vice president of the commission of older adults and seniors at the National Constituent Assembly.
Participating in the National Constituent Assembly is my duty as a Venezuelan, to confront the situation of violence that started in 2017 in our country. It was a violence we had never known before. In our country, we Venezuelans are people of peace, we are friendly people. We always resolve our contradictions with a stew, a soup, a beer, a drink.
We have observed that in addition to the economic siege, there was a media siege and an internal process of sabotage that had created a level of violence that we had never seen in Venezuela. The right-wing violent opposition burned more than 29 Venezuelans alive, for the simple reason that they looked Chavista, for the colour of their skin. It is a level of racism that we had never before experienced in our country. In the end, it was almost four months of daily violence instigated by the right-wing opposition.
This opposition has always qualified the Bolivarian government as a dictatorial government, while Venezuela is a country where we Venezuelans decide. We have had 24 elections in the 18 years of the Bolivarian revolution. There is nothing that our country does without consultation of the people, freely. How can they then qualify the Venezuelan government as a dictatorial government?
This violence did not allow us to exercise the right to work, the right to education, the right to free movement. Much of the violence in the street is created by foreigners hired to come to foment violence in our country.
The National Constituent Assembly was in principle called for peace. That was what President Maduro said, first would be peace, then next would come restoring the rights of youth, the rights of women, of the elderly and pensioners, worker’s rights. This National Constituent Assembly not only has the political representation of the 330 municipalities of the country, a political territorial representative for each municipality of the country, it also has 178 delegates from different sectors of the Venezuelan society, women's groups, pensioner and senior’s groups, workers organizations, student groups, indigenous groups, peasant organizations. It is a general representation of the Venezuelan population.
On July 30, 2017 more than 9 million Venezuelans went to the polls to elect the National Constituent Assembly. Now we have the peace that Venezuelans wanted. Us Venezuelans are good people, we respect the ideas of each other and our differences, but we must resolve our political differences with the vote, elections, not violence.
Now the National Constituent Assembly is going to grow our rights and our duties as Venezuelans. The new constitution will have a chapter for young people, a chapter for people with disabilities, there will be a chapter for pensioners, there will be a chapter for women, because it is a feminist revolution, there will be a chapter for the peasants.
FTT: Thank you for your time.
Basew Asfur – Representative of the Puerto Cabello Municipality, Carabobo State
FTT: Thank you for welcoming us to Venezuela and for the interview. Following this successful conference, it is our job as solidarity activists to do more actions in solidarity with Venezuela and against economic sanctions and threats from the U.S. government and its allies around the world. In your perspective, what is our most important work as people living outside of Venezuela?
Basew Asfur: Well, to start off, what is important is your participation in the #TodosSomosVenezuela international solidarity conference and the lifting of your voices in defence of Venezuela as social movements. As our president Nicolás Maduro said, we want the alliance and the support of the peoples of the world, not governments. You are going to take back to your respective countries, the reality of the situation that you saw here in Venezuela: that here there is no dictatorship, that there is a participatory democracy, that the Venezuelan people continue to defend their revolution. You saw with your own eyes how the economic war is, and you have witnessed how hard they have attacked our economy.
We want you to take what you saw here and the experiences you had here back to your countries. Let your experience in Venezuela be seen and heard, not only by demonstrations in the street, but also using social media. Give speeches about your experiences, inviting others to come visit Venezuela and see for themselves our Revolution and our participatory democracy. In every aspect that you can collaborate with Venezuela, we welcome you. Know that here in Venezuela you have friends and allies.
We the Venezuelan people thank you for your support. Here in Venezuela you have an ally, a brother. The people of Venezuela will always be in the struggle to support you, you can count on Venezuela as we count on your support. ¡Chávez Vive!
FTT: Thank you for your time.
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