Three key figures of the Venezuelan opposition – Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado, and Antonio Ledezma – all of whom have to varying degrees been connected to the radical sector of Venezuela's opposition, happened to sign and distribute the following communique on February 11, a mere day before the coup plot that President Nicolas Maduro denounced was to take place.
To what extent did these three individuals know of the coup plot? We do not know yet, but the fact that they came out with a statement a mere day beforehand, for a “National Accord for the Transition” of the Maduro “regime,” suggests that they must have known about the plot. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello did name Antonio Ledezma as one of the individuals who was supposed to sign a statement in support of the coup.
Most of what the communique has to say includes the usual opposition platitudes, about the disaster that the Bolivarian government has been for the Venezuelan people, about the need to “reestablish” freedom of speech, to release “political” prisoners, etc. However, the communique that these three spread is interesting not only for its timing, but also for its only concrete points, which involve the management of the economy. Here they propose to essentially return Venezuela's oil industry to the supposedly “meritocratic” management of the pre-Chavez era and to insert Venezuela (“again”) into international financial circuits. The fact that under this meritocratic management system the oil industry essentially gave away Venezuela's oil with a 1 percent royalty in some cases and that these international financial circuits were responsible for a massive decline in per capita incomes during the 1980s and 1990s is completely forgotten.
Comunique – A Call on Venezuelans for a National Accord for the Transtion
The people of Venezuela are experiencing one of the most difficult circumstances of their history, to which it has been led by a regime that in the last sixteen years applied a failed model and that has practiced with impunity anti-democracy; an inefficient and corrupt regime that stole, gave away and squandered considerable public resources, with which it could have launched the welfare and progress of all, instead of generating the ruin that we suffer today.
In effect, the disaster we live in is the result of a project of an unscrupulous elite of no more than a hundred people who took over the State in order to make it totalitarian, and which has relied on violent groups and corrupt military leaders to control the society through repression that degraded the institutions and violated every sphere of society to the point of devastating the economy and severely damaging the foundations of peace.
The instability and tensions resulting from the crisis and the insistence of the regime to "deepen" the model that it created, can lead, in the short run, to a humanitarian crisis and has discredited the government to an extreme degree. It is clear that the regime will not solve the crisis and that the Maduro government has entered a terminal phase.
Our call: Construct an agreement to lead to a transition in peace
It is the duty of every democrat to help resolve the current crisis, to defend freedom, to prevent that the inevitable collapse of the regime overflows the channels of peace and constitutionality and to make the transition, that is, that the transition from the superseded system to a new hopeful one, occurs hand in hand with the majority of Venezuelans and takes us without moving backwards to recover the spirit and democratic order.
Assuming this commitment, we issue a call, without political distinctions and transcending differences, so that we move with the urgency of the case towards a National Accord for the Transition, in which the Unity of all citizens of Venezuela is represented, through the vision of workers, youth, entrepreneurs, academics, politicians, church members and the Armed Forces, in short, of all domestic sectors.
Agreements and commitments of the National Accord will give solidity to the decisions that should be adopted to overcome the crisis in all areas; to harmonize the country socially and to ensure political stability in its passage through a process that will experience risks, shocks and threats of various kinds.
To this end, we propose a program of three agendas for concrete action, which has been fueled by the contributions that various groups of brave Venezuelans have made in recent times. As an instrument of the National Accord, we invite you to accompany and enrich the program with the perspectives of all sectors, which will provide as a guide for overcoming the crisis and beginning the reconstruction of the country.
1. A political-institutional agenda to restore the trampled freedoms, sovereignty, social peace and the rule of law:
- Reestablish the full validity of democratic institutions and human rights, release political prisoners, facilitate the immediate return of exiles and request that the judicial system opens processes so that may be room for the punishment of serious crimes committed by governmental power;
- Return the effective exercise of freedom of expression and for citizens to learn about state management and to completely reverse the violations and abuses committed in these areas;
- Rescue the autonomy of the public bodies, to designate their representatives by constitutional means and to rehabilitate the political pluralism and national sovereignty of the Venezuelan State;
- Restore full decentralization, exercise of regional and local authorities and genuine public participation as established by the Constitution and laws;
- Prepare and conduct free and absolutely transparent presidential elections;
- Ensure the loyalty and attachment of the National Armed Forces to the Constitution and its separation from foreign interference and partisan political activity; and
- Open a political depolarization process and national reconciliation, to convene and actively involve the whole society in rebuilding the foundations for peace.
2. An agenda to address the social crisis and ensure efficient attention to the most vulnerable sectors:
- Reestablish in the very short term a normal supply of food and other essential goods of household consumption and the supply of spare parts that prevent the operation of supply chains;
- Correct failures of basic public services throughout the country, with special priority in electricity, water, sanitation, cooking gas and public transport;
- Ensure that health needs of all the people of Venezuela are covered, attending to the flaws and distortions in the management of public health and hospital systems; resolve the current shortage of medicines, medical supplies and equipment and supply deficits of health personnel at various levels; and
- Confront as a priority of state public safety emergency, dismantling criminal networks that proliferated thanks to impunity and the complicity of the current regime and comprehensively address the problem in its facets of prevention, policing, and the administration of justice so as to eliminate impunity and to enhance the effectiveness of the prison system.
3. An economic agenda focused on stabilizing the economy, restoring family income and generating confidence in the country:
- Recover the operational capacity and significantly increase production of the oil industry, review legal frameworks and agreements harmful to it and appoint a new PDVSA board, that is honest and capable, to ensure its efficient operation in service of the country;
- Insert Venezuela once again into international financial circuits and acquire from these the financial support needed to overcome short-term difficulties;
- Decelerate the current inflationary process, assuming an exchange rate policy that will promote domestic production and, in general, correct macroeconomic imbalances caused by years of excesses and corruption; restore the autonomy of the BCV [Central Bank]; enforce an efficient and transparent system for the coordination of public finances and appoint new authorities of economic entities of the State, based on norms and criteria of capability and merit;
- Make arrangements for fair compensation for damage that might arise from arbitrary expropriation; review the current status of all non-oil companies that ended up in state hands by the voracity of the regime and decide the forms of ownership and management that they should take to ensure their productive recovery.
- Remove the tangle of controls that stifle the economy and rebuild the legal and economic bases that are necessary to attract productive investment to ensure stable growth in the future.
Venezuela will be what Venezuelans make of her through the change of direction that we ourselves decide. This path will be secured by consensus and commitments to the National Accord for the Transition.
María Corina Machado
Caracas, February 11, 2015
The original communique in Spanish: http://www.ventevenezuela.org/comunicado/