Interview With Maxmilien Sanchez Arvelaiz, Venezuelan Ambassador-Designate to the U.S.
Dan Kovalik. February 18, 2015
Dan: I was just reading that, even with the economic problems in
MA: Yes definitely, we want to keep and maintain our social programs, and that is our priority, to take care of Venezuelan families. We already have some progress to show and we want to maintain that. . . . [W]hat's going on in
Dan: And there has been a real decline in poverty and extreme poverty in
MA: Yes, definitely. Remember when Chavez was elected in 1999, at that time . . . the poverty rate at that time stood around 42-45% and I think right now it has been reduced to 25%. And extreme poverty rate that fell [from 23.4%] to 7% and I think it was last year when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization recognized Venezuela as the leader in Latin America for the eradication of hunger. I think in 2014 again you have this Gini coefficient . . . [t]hat shows again that inequality fell even more in 2014. So, we are moving in the right direction. . . . See, World Bank figures.
Dan: I have recently been reading comparisons between
MA: Definitely, you know that wonderful documentary done by Patricio Guzman, The Battle of Chile? Maybe at that time it was in black and white, and now it is in color. But if you see some of the images, some of the sequences on that documentary and you look to Caracas now, you could find some similarities . . . for example, what President Maduro just denounced - the sabotage; the same recipe with the same ingredient. So, right now, they are trying to promote a coup on our economy. For the last two years, we have been facing hording, contraband and many forms of fraud in order to destabilize the distribution of food and obviously create the sensation of chaos and then you have all these pictures of people in long queues waiting to go the market. Again, the same trick. . . . I hope that we will not be able to make a "Battle of Venezuela," or, if yes, the result in the end would be better.
Dan: Can you talk about the
Dan: I wonder if you could comment on Noam Chomsky's statement that Chavez led the historic liberation of
M.A.: I understand what Chomsky was saying, but I think that Chavez did not think of himself as a leader of the movement, but rather as a part of a cultural struggle to bring progress and provide for the basic necessities of the Venezuelan, and to some extent, all of the Latin American people. Now, it was true that when Chavez was elected in 1999, we were maybe the only ones in the region, with the clear exception of
Dan: When you refer to the Civil Rights Movement, it reminds me that when I was in
MA: Yes, we are talking about people who were disenfranchised citizens, second-class citizens and they have now become a real part of society. Again, when we are talking about the Civil Rights movement in the 60's it was quite violent actually here the reaction against this movement. Yes, you know, so you can understand how you could have sectors of Venezuelan society who might react in a certain violent manner against this process of inclusion. . . .