"Maduro's government has made the poor poorer"
The former governor of Lara and former presidential candidate, Henri Falcón, spoke with LPO regarding the regional elections in November and the critical situation faced by Venezuela.

Venezuela is getting prepared for another electoral process that causes division and generates strong tensions. The debate in the spectrum opposed to the government of Nicolás Maduro lies in the transparency of the electoral process and whether to participate or return to the idea of increasing abstention and emptying the results of legitimacy.

The reality indicates that the path of abstention has not been positive for the opposition nor was it able to remove Maduro from the Miraflores Palace.

Henri Falcón, president of Venezuela's Progressive Advanced Party, is running during the regional elections in November for Governor of Lara again - a position he held between 2008 and 2017.

Falcón was linked to 'Chavismo' in the beginning and was elected governor of Lara by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He then walked away and founded his own party with which he has won his second term as governor.

Maduro opens dialogue with opposition and wants the US and Europe as election observers

Within his opposition role, he was always a defender of the electoral route and was criticized by the so-called G4 that brings together the country's traditional parties for having presented himself as a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, that was not recognized by the international community and ended with the experiment of Juan Guaidó in 2019.

Falcon analyzed the difficult situation faced by his country in a dialogue with LPO, questioned the "adventure of Guaidó" and called for opposition unity to recover governorships and mayoralties and reach the presidential elections of 2024 with chances to compete. "How can it be that the opposition groups talk with the government but we cannot talk with each other?" he said.

As a defender of dialogue and negotiation as political tools to solve issues, he welcomes the fact that a new round of talks can begin in Mexico, but clarifies that the crisis "is an issue that we must resolve as Venezuelans."

The situation in Venezuela has long been very delicate. How is an electoral process carried out under these conditions?

We are involved in a very severe crisis, with great social, political and economic imbalances. Political interaction in some cases is very active in seeking solutions, and in other cases it seems that complications are sought and agendas are built that are not fruitful for the country.

Within the framework of all this, we are facing a huge opportunity ahead of us in view of the next regional and local elections that will be held in November. There are conversations among different opposition groups with the government and, as you know, the opposition in Venezuela is very diverse and plural, there is no exclusive opposition. Those who think that the opposition is represented by 3 or 4 parties are wrong, although in practice the story is very different.

All these political expressions have talks with the government, but what no one can understand is the fact that we all talk with the government and we do not talk with each other. It is suicidal in the face of the electoral process because it is about recovering lost spaces, wining governorships and mayoralties and that is perfectly possible if we interpret the moment.

From this interpretation, we must build a real and sincere unit under that same diversity that allows us to develop the representation that allows us to face future electoral processes under better conditions.

Henri Falcon at the campaign launch of his new candidacy in Lara.

What is the main difference of the opposition?

They are in a subordinate position. You may have differences but the most important purpose is to change the government, to generate a change in the country, to be able to address reforms regarding economic matters and transform the lives of the population, offering better social conditions.

Venezuela is experiencing a very serious situation, first because of the incompetence of the government, and second because of the imposing of sanctions, which is a perverse and criminal policy of some governments around the world. That does not solve the problems in Venezuela, but it exacerbates them. Some people, from the comfort of their foreign countries, impose one of the greatest issues we have with the sector in Washington, Colombia or Spain, requiring economic sanctions and causing supply issues with fuel, gasoline, diesel, electricity, water, medicines, and food, in addition to hyperinflationary problems generated by the government itself with its ineptitude to govern.

What no one can understand is the fact that we all talk with the government and we do not talk with each other. It is suicidal in the face of the electoral process

We do not believe that sanctions generate all of Venezuela's issues, which are generated by the government, but the sanctions deepen it. We do not understand the policy of sanctions that affect the most vulnerable citizens, and we cannot agree with those who propose a foreign intervention in the country, which is unpatriotic, and it is at odds with the values of sovereignty, history and principles of the country.

In addition, I cannot understand those who propose that the Armed Forces try to solve what politics cannot resolve, requesting a coup d'état. All coups are bad, whether left or right. No one can agree with that, politics means valuing differences, debates, dialogues, negotiations and agreements. That is our position; we have advocated for a peaceful, negotiated and constitutional solution.

Does dialogue with the government create division?

All the versions of the Venezuelan opposition have had contact with the government. There have been negotiations. We are part of the National Dialogue Table and we developed a good portion of this new National Electoral Council, the new National Assembly and conditions for an electoral process.

That is important in order to start pursuing solutions for the issues effecting Venezuelans, such as hyperinflation and the dilution of wages.

We do not believe that sanctions generate all of Venezuela's issues, which are generated by the government, but the sanctions deepen it.

Citizens demand solutions from parties, not fantasies, illusions or more issues. This is a reality that we must overcome in politics: negotiation and voting.

Are there expectations with a possible roundtable in Mexico?

All roundtables and negotiations are positive. I was lucky enough to participate in the first session that took place in Caracas, then there was another in Venezuela, and later there was Santo Domingo and Oslo. Sadly, they all failed.

We said at the time that once these roundtables were in place, we should enhance the dialogue to focus on Venezuela, but the international community, whom we are thankful for the talks, must understand that this is an issue that we Venezuelans must resolve on our own. We welcome discussion, we welcome cooperation, but not intervention or interference.

I see this new initiative in Mexico as very positive and I believe that the radical extremist opposition, which had previously denied dialogue and was limited exclusively to the cessation of usurpation through military intervention, today understands that the element of politics is negotiation and it represents a positive background. Those who deny dialogue, deny politics.

What can be different about this roundtable compared with the others that failed?

I would like to see a more dynamic activity so that we can create a more effective dialogue, with partial agreements and not all or nothing, where political, economic and social diversity can be expressed so that it is not limited to the parties. The representation of the people of Venezuela is not limited to a group of parties; we are much more plural and diverse than that and all groups must take part in the negotiations.

But beyond the parties, if the priority issue is the economy, all sectors should be represented, including the productive, business-industrial, academia, workers and the Church.

Do you think that these three years of Juan Guaidó's leadership have hurt the opposition?

I could talk about the damage that was done to Venezuela. It represented almost 3 years of adventures, of a meaningless route, which is an absolute truth. In politics we all err and we can make mistakes, the important thing is to reflect and ratify immediately.

Now is the time to redefine the strategy, to change the narrative and expand to explore the differences and build unity to face the electoral challenges ahead. It is not the same if you have 4 governorships or 11 of 23; 30 mayors or 140 out of 300. That can be done with a different narrative to mobilize the election and overcome the population's distrust. We need to take back our vote as the only tool that the Constitution gives us to settle our differences.

What has been observed in the economy is a kind of dollarization. Is there any orthodox turn projected in the management of the economic?

We have been warning since 2018, when I took over the responsibility of facing the presidential candidacy, that there was a growing process of dollarization that was beginning to be felt, even in the informal sectors of the economy.

I could talk about the damage that was done to Venezuela. It represented almost 3 years of adventure, of a meaningless route, that is an absolute truth.

We said that in order to address the changes in the economy, we had to dollarize without disrupting coexistence with the Bolivar. This could be done through constitutional and legal reforms necessary to give weight and value to the Bolivar and to be able to establish commitments with both foreign and local currency.

Today the reality is what we proposed back then. Now everything is in fact dollarized except wages. This generates a very important gap because there are those who render services in dollars and those who do not, who depend on government subsidies that are accompanied by pressure, persecution, as well as social control and party selection.

The debate over Venezuela generates ideological divisions. It seems that criticizing the government means being an "agent of the empire." Can you be progressive or center-left and oppose Maduro?

Maduro's government has made the poor poorer. We must analyze political behavior, not only from the façade or theory, but in practice. A true progressive government serves the most vulnerable sectors to achieve equality. It needs to be effective. That dictates the reality of the government.

The Progressive Advanced Party has 17 years of management experience. I was mayor and governor. We achieved important transformations and generated space for participation. It is possible to think of a modern state without neglecting the social and egalitarian aspect.

I was a constituent in 1999 and this government did not interpret what was embodied by the Constitutional text. It represented populism and political patronage, which has nothing to do with progressivism.

Is there any 'Chavismo' left in Maduro?

'Chavismo' is a reality on the streets, and we cannot ignore. It has been one of the mistakes of the extreme opposition. 'Chavismo' brings forth great confusions and disappointments. Underestimating it is a mistake, and there is a lot to pursue and we should open the doors for that new progressive Venezuela that we want. We embrace the center-left and move away from the extremes.

When 'Chavismo' left, we set up the Progressive Front for Change and we grouped those of us who came from the left with a clear message: not all of the left wing is in the government and not all the right is in the opposition. As progressives, we are an opposition with a position; we believe in the development of peaceful and democratic politics of voting and negotiation. We do not ignore the government. It is an inefficient government, but it is the government.

The rest has been the product of many internal and external factors, which hide the truth about what Venezuela really represents. I refer to the Venezuela of resources and potential to become the epicenter for strategic development in the region and the world. 

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