Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza assures us that his country will win its “marathon” against the mainly American sanctions intended to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power, in an interview with AFP.
If the minister hopes for a normalization of relations with the United States and Europe, he promises that his country “learns to live, exceed, thwart, circumvent the sanctions”, even if “they do a lot of damage”.
Mr. Arreaza recalls a conversation with Eliott Abrams, the American envoy for Venezuela, who told him that after failing to quickly remove Mr. Maduro from power, the United States would put “maximum pressure” on the long haul. term.
“He said to me: ‘You are going to be deprived of gasoline, electricity, food until the people can’t take it anymore and hunt you.” I replied: “You thought it was a sprint. over 100 m, it was not. Now you are talking about a marathon. We will see who are the best! Venezuelans are the best independence marathoners and President Maduro will escape the peloton! ” “
Venezuela and its oil company PDVSA are subject to international economic sanctions, in particular from the United States, which considers Maduro’s re-election in 2018 fraudulent.
The minister stresses that many Venezuelan assets abroad are frozen and that his country, which exported most of its oil to the United States, must now find other customers, some of whom must remain hidden so as not to be sanctioned by USA.
“The shortfall can represent 200 billion and still I am far from the account… They (Americans) pursue our boats. We have to use irregular tactics, to wage a guerrilla war on the sea to get our oil to the right buyers, ”he says.
“We had to do things we couldn’t imagine,” says Arreaza, then qualifying: “But it’s the buyers who do it”.
The minister assures us that without the sanctions, Venezuela would have already bought the vaccines it needs. The country, which is facing a second murderous wave, is currently negotiating hard to release frozen funds abroad and pay for vaccines.
On the diplomatic front, while part of the international community continues to support the opponent Juan Guaido, self-proclaimed interim president in January 2019, Mr. Arreaza says he is certain that the United States and Europe will eventually recognize Mr. Maduro: “When a country in Europe wants to talk about Venezuela and its people, they call me. (Guaido’s presidency) is a fiction. In Venezuela, there is a state and there is no doubt about who governs. They (Europe and the United States) can still continue in the absurd but the absurd has limits and this limit is approaching ”.
Enumerating the American presidents from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump, Mr. Arreaza accuses the United States of having always wanted to “get their hands on Venezuelan wealth” and hardly seems optimistic despite the election of Joe Biden, considered more moderate than Mr. Trump.
“They (Biden’s USA) opted to maintain this irrational position (…) There was no contact or positive response to the outstretched hand of the president (Maduro) but we note less aggressiveness », Recognizes the minister.
It opens the door to normalization with Europe, which it nevertheless accuses of following behind the Americans. “We hope that they stand out from the United States (…) We have opened up avenues for dialogue. We hope for normalization but if they disrespect us we will respond, ”warns the minister, less than two months after the expulsion of the EU ambassador.
Mr. Arreaza also addressed the fighting against irregular armed groups on the border with Colombia which have killed 17 people since March 21 (8 soldiers, 9 members of the groups). Bluntly, the minister accuses Bogota, with whom diplomatic relations are broken.
“There is a new generation of groups, and their main characteristic is their link with drug trafficking (…) They are trying to protect routes from drug trafficking. Behind, there is the government of Colombia. The Colombian economy feeds on 13 billion dollars of money laundering and drugs ”, accuses Mr. Arreaza.
“If only there was a serious government! », Adds the Minister. “The last time I was able to speak with a Colombian minister in office was in August 2018 before the departure of President (Juan Manuel) Santos. There is no contact between the presidents (Maduro and Ivan Duque), between the ministers, between the armed forces … it is international nonsense ”.
“Colombia is the most inconvenient neighbor in the world”, he said, “if we do not speak with the adversary, we will never be able to resolve major conflicts”.