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External pressure, protests and army will "restore" democracy in Venezuela

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  • Wed, 09/19/2018 - 23:51
David Smolansky
  • EFE

Former Venezuelan Mayor David Smolansky, who leads a working group in the Organization of American States (OAS), believes that "the restoration of democracy" in Venezuela requires international pressure, demonstrations and armed forces that support legality.

In an interview with Efe, Smolansky stressed that those would be "the three boards" for the ouster of Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and for "recovering freedom."

Smolansky said that the international community should increase the economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro's government, while the demonstrations continue within the country, and expressed his wish that the Armed Forces obey the 1990 Constitution, which states that they are " at the exclusive service of the Nation".

"If the middle and lower ranks of the national armed forces assume an institutional position and obey the laws and the Venezuelan Constitution, which is very clear when stating that the national armed forces are there to guarantee the security and defense of the nation, then I I am convinced that Maduro's days in power will be numbered," said Smolansky.

The politician, of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, said that Maduro remains in power because there is "a tiny military elite that protects him with weapons", but assured that there is great discontent among the middle and lower ranks that "reach their home and find the refrigerator empty because of food shortage".

Smolansky said that there have been five military and police movements against Maduro in the last year and that of the 300 "political prisoners" in the country, 170 are soldiers.

Concerning a coup d'état, Smolansky said: "In Venezuela there is a coup d'état every day, 24 hours a day; in Venezuela there is a coup d'etat seven days a week. Regime's senior officials act permanently outside the law."

He also gave as an example the ruling National Constituent Assembly (ANC), created in 2017 only with Chavista members and that was regarded as a coup by the opposition, while its legitimacy was not recognized by the United States, the European Union (EU) and a dozen Latin American countries.

"What is being proposed," he said, "is an institutional position of the national Armed Forces, which I am sure is going to be respected by the international community."

The politician believes that this "institutional movement has to go with the guarantee that the Rule of Law will be recovered, that in Venezuela there will be free and transparent elections", so that Venezuelans can elect a civilian leader as president and power can be alternated.

Smolansky was mayor of the Caracas municipality of El Hatillo from December 2013 until September 2017, when he fled to Brazil after being sentenced to 15 years in prison and politically disqualified for allowing barricades to be installed in his locality.

On September 5, the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, announced that Smolansky would lead a working group on Venezuelan migration that will have two objectives: to prepare a report on the migration of Venezuelans and raise funds.

That report, explained Smolansky, will seek to count the number of immigrants and refugees in each receiving nation, such as Brazil and Colombia, as well as investigate their situation, especially if they have the opportunity to work and if they can access education and health care.

Smolansky also considered the need to create a multilateral fund that could be coordinated by a body such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which would allow funding from different governments, non-governmental groups and international organizations.

He also wants the working group to collaborate with local institutions in campaigns against xenophobia.

"The working group has a friendly hand and strong arm policy," said Smolansky, who asked to focus on the fact that "the only solution for the migration and refugee crisis is that Maduro leaves power and restore freedom and democracy".

Beatriz Pascual Macías

EFE

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