What business did Lukashenka run with Chavez and now continues with Maduro?
David Smolyansky is one of the youngest leaders of the Venezuelan opposition. Being 31 year-old he is Mayor of the municipality of El Hatillo in Caracas and is a member of the Board of the People's Will Party.
David was able to win local elections in 2013, when Hugo Chavez passed away and a window of opportunities was open for a while. However, one dictator was replaced with another one and the fight for freedom continues in Venezuela.
The other day David Smolyansky visited Poland to take part in conference "Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy".
Charter97.org asked him a few questions.
- David, we anxiously keep track of developments in Venezuela and confrontation between the opposition and the authorities. What is going on in the country now?
-According to the latest polls, 70-80% of the population rejects the power of Maduro. People want changes. Maduro clearly realizes how weak he is and therefore use force to control the country: he relies on the army, police, secret services, the Supreme Court.
Now we observe social, political and economic collapse in the country. There are more than 100 political prisoners, many people are in exile and emigration. The crime rate, perhaps, is the highest in the world. Over the past 18 years 300 thousands of Venezuelans have been killed. People starve to death, the inflation rate is four-digit.
- How could coming to power of Maduro become possible after the death of Hugo Chavez? They are like twins in the policy line.
- Maduro is quick at using the army and special services to retain power. His allies like Vladimir Putin, Bashar Al-Assad and Lukashenka helped him to do it.
- How is it possible for a democratic opposition to come to power then?
-We are working on it. A year ago we won elections. Now the majority of deputies in the Parliament are from the opposition. It means that the Parliament represents the people of Venezuela. We have launched impeachment proceedings.. The pocket Supreme Court has already ruled out such option, but the Parliament has legitimacy and I am sure that we will reach a peaceful transition of power.
-In one interview you called Venezuela a very dangerous narco-oil and militaristic state. What kind of business do Venezuelan authorities have with Belarus?
-Yes, both under Chavez and now under Maduro Venezuela is a narco-oil and militaristic state that poses a serious threat to the entire world. This is a specific feature of our country now. A relatively legitimate oil business and illegal drug trafficking raise huge funds.
Corruption has reached unprecedented level, and today it continues to flourish. Let's imagine, when oil cost more than 100 dollars per barrel, according to some reports, more than 150 billion dollars turned to be in pockets of bureaucrats!
The justice system does not exist, impunity flourishes, and people are poor and completely naked to the state machine.
With regard to Belarus, I know that the most active business (an official one), which is conducted by the Belarusian authorities in Venezuela is construction of housing in many states.
- Does only construction bound two mafia-style regimes?
-I know that Lukashenka actively cooperated with Hugo Chavez on strengthening of the repressive apparatus and the creation of propaganda public media in Venezuela. Your dictator gave a piece of advice.
-Does it mean that Lukashenka helped Chavez to build dictatorship in Venezuela?
-Sure, he was his ally in that process.
-We know that your family comes from Ukraine. Do you fallow the situation in Ukraine and the region?
- Yes, sure. It is coincidental that in 2014 after the opposition demonstration my party leader Leopold López was arrested and it coincided with unrest in Kyiv. I was really concerned about the situation in my country and followed developments in Ukraine with a sinking heart.
My ancestors emigrated from Ukraine in 1920s under Stalin. They moved to Cuba and then left for Venezuela. Today in Venezuela I belong to a new generation, we want to live in a free democratic country, and we fight for it. I do not want to emigrate. I believe we can win using non-violent methods.
-What are your personal plans? You are one of the youngest politicians in Venezuela.
-I belong to People's Will Party. I intend to pursue work in a local administration - the place I've been chosen to by the people. Political plans? We've been stolen the referendum that could have deprived Maduro of power. The fight is still on and we hope for the victory.