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    An interview with Merli Vanegas, Consul General of Venezuela in Vancouver

    Interview by Thomas Davies

    Fire This Time (FTT): In the second year since the passing of Chavez, what do you think the legacy of Chavez is for revolutionaries in Venezuela and around the world?

    Today we can say that the legacy of our Eternal Comandante is beating in the hearts of the Venezuelan people, in those sectors that were historically excluded and doomed to poverty, but whose millions of lives have been dignified by the social policies of the Bolivarian revolution. Comandante Chávez not only honoured his pledge to our people by meeting long disregarded basic needs such as health, education and free housing, among others, but he also contributed to materialize the People’s Power mandated in the first Constitution in history to be ever voted on by all Venezuelans. Along with paying the social debt, raising awareness on the key role of the People’s Power is one of the huge contributions Chávez passed on to his people.

    Comandante Chávez’s greatness is not in question, not just for Venezuela but also for the oppressed peoples of the world to which he brought hope through his vision of integration and unity, along with his anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist thinking. As a result, he contributed to the creation of new regional organizations such as ALBA, MERCOSUR, CELAC, UNASUR and PETROCARIBE, meant to help eradicate inequalities and poverty thanks to new integration mechanisms based on respect and cooperation between peoples.

    FTT: How do you think the relationship between the US and Venezuela has developed since the death of Chávez?

    Our government has always been respectful of the right to self-determination, every nation’s sovereignty and all due international treaties and agreements. However, we have seen that the government of the United States has taken unilateral actions against Venezuelan officials, and President Maduro has denounced how this government meddles in our internal affairs. That is why, on behalf of his people and the Bolivarian Government, and proud of our history, President Nicolás Maduro has demanded once again that the government of the United States respect Venezuela’s Independence and Sovereignty. Finally, it is important to emphasize measures announced by the Venezuelan Government regarding the enforcement of visa requirements to US citizens travelling to Venezuela, refusal of visa rights for US politicians such as George Bush, among others, and the reduction of the US Embassy’s staff in Venezuela.

    FTT: What do you think about the state of revolutionary development in Venezuela today?

    Since Comandante Chávez passed away, the Bolivarian Revolution has been permanently under attack through media, economic and political war tactics by fascist sectors in the Venezuelan opposition. They react to their inability to attain power through elections by resorting to violent agendas, including staple product hoarding and shortages induced by private economic sectors. Such forces are supported by the corporate media, which blows these events out of proportion in order to cause discomfort and distress in the people, expecting that they hold the government accountable. On February 12th, a new coup d’état against President Nicolás Maduro’s administration was thwarted. It involved a group of retired officers of Venezuela´s Aviation Force, some political opposition leaders and the collaboration of the US Embassy in Venezuela. The plan consisted of an airstrike on a number of public and state-run facilities, intending to create chaos and pave the way for a provisional government. However, all of this has served to strengthen the Revolutionary Bolivarian Government supported by the majority of Venezuelans, and thus faithfully follow Comandante Chávez’s command during his last speech: Unity, Fight, Battle and Victory.

    FTT: What message do you have for the progressive community in solidarity and in defence of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela?

    Our message to the progressive community is one of solidarity with the struggle of the peoples to attain justice, peace and put an end to inequalities. We hope to stay united and firm in the battle against imperialism and colonialism. The Revolutionary Venezuelan Government welcomes all the expressions of support and solidarity we have received from the social movements around the world, rejecting both the systematic aggressions staged by the fascist Venezuelan opposition and the imperialist interference in our nation.

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