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'Elements of democracy have disappeared' - former Venezuelan Interior Minister

'Elements of democracy have disappeared' - former Venezuelan Interior Minister
By Euronews
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Euronews has spoken to Venezuelan jurist, politician and writer Asdrúbal Aguiar for his insights into the situation in his country. Aguiar was Venezuela’s Interior Minister in 1998-1999.

Mario Alfaro, euronews: “You’ve sent a letter to the Organization of American States, condemning the events of Feruary 12 – when a youth and student rally ended with three people dead and more than 60 wounded. First of all, can you describe the situation now in Venezuela and Caracas in particular?”

Asdrúbal Aguiar: “What we have is a deplorable situation because 10 people have been killed, two dozen wounded – and also, a truly important number, of almost 100 people who’ve been mistreated – even tortured. The government is avoiding its responsibilities in this area and instead it’s inviting the people to celebrate the carnival.”

euronews: “What was the spark that ignited the flame?”

Asdrúbal Aguiar: “Within that context, which is stifling for any democracy, the situation has worsened. When the government took office in 1999, President Chavez often said that this was a peaceful revolution, but with arms. Maduro has been repeating this in recent days.”

euronews: “The anniversary of Chavez’s death is coming up. What is your evaluation of the government of his successor, Maduro?”

Asdrúbal Aguiar: “Nicolas Maduro should not be in the office of the presidency – and I say this on a strictly legal basis, according to the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution. But the Constitutional Chamber of our Supreme Court – that is fully aligned with the revolution and is controlled by judges loyal to the ruling party – interpreted the Constitution to fulfill the mandate of Hugo Chavez and they simply brought to power Nicolas Maduro as planned.

“Since then what’s become clear is that over a period of 15 years 1.5 trillion dollars has been wasted – the entire private production sector has been destroyed through confiscation and expropriation. Now that Venezuela lives mainly off imports there aren’t enough dollars available to meet national needs.

“Worst of all – over these years, despite the oil boom, the number of homicides increased from 4,500 in 1998, when I was Interior Minister – a very serious figure – to 23,000 homicides in 2013.”

euronews: “You have requested an urgent meeting of the Organization of American States. Given the apparent division of opinion in the region, what do you expect from this meeting?”

Asdrúbal Aguiar: “Among the governments in the region there’s been a very real weakening of democracy. The latest events show that in Venezuela the essential elements of democracy have disappeared. But I’m optimistic because the circumstances are so clear now and the regime can’t hide it.”

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