By Marion V. Ali
The information and images coming out of Venezuela on the US media suggests that hunger is one of the the main reasons for unrest in the country.
But this week Ambassador Yoel del Valle Perez Marcano declared in Belize that these reports are part of a plot to destabilize Venezuela and to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late President Hugo Chavez.
During a media breakfast with re-porters on Wed -nesday, the ambas-sador chargedthat the plan to destabilize Venezuela is the brain-child of Venezuela’s opposition party, sup-ported by the United States government.
“They have done this through a sus-tained campaign over several years that has included political and economic at-tacks against the government of Ven-ezuela, and more recently, violence in the streets.
“First they were saying that Chavez was the problem! Comandante Chavez has died, and now they are saying that President Maduro is the problem. They are the ones creating the problem!
“The latest [event] was the coup attempt of February 12th…Chief of the Popular Party, Leopold Lopez caused terrorist ac-tions on the main streets of the country, which resulted in the deaths of 43 Venezuelans, with 1800 people injured and many cases of damaged property. Those like Lopez are now detained, facing tribunal,” Ambassador Perez said.
The ambassador gave an assurance that those arrested will be tried with full protection of their human rights. But if the judgement goes against them, they will face penalties under Venezuelan law, he avowed.
As for the media reports , Ambassador Perez Marcano said it is not true that Venezuelans are dy-ing of hunger. But there are food wars created to portray that image.
“It’s an absolute lie!
“There is a problem with the availability of certain products in Venezuela, and there are problems with the distribution of those products … The mafias take those products to Colombia where they collect about six times as much. The companies are not selling in Venezuela.”
Ambassador del Valle Perez Marcano, who spoke through an interpreter, remarked that the government of President Maduro believes it can resolve the issues, but it needs the cooperation of the US government.
He said President Maduro has tried to hold discussions to return U.S. dip-lomatic and bilateral relations to normalcy, but that the US has not accepted Venezuela’s invitation to resume talks.
Venezuela is count-ing on the support of the Caribbean Community to assist the process, the am-bassador said.
“CARICOM has good relations with the US,” he said, “and we are convinced that CARICOM can help to bring about a peaceful solution to our differences.”
While it is true that Venezuela has suffered from the fall in fuel prices, the Maduro government insists it can continue to sustain its Petrocaribe arrangement with the countries with which it currently shares that agreement. It can do so because the government has improved its economy, despite contradictory media reports in the US, the diplomat said.
Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for about 96 percent of her export earnings, about 45 percent of budget revenues, and around 12 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.
“Last year we had inflation of 63 percent, but we have been able to raise salaries up 67 percent, and in January President Maduro announced another increase of 15 percent”, Ambassador Marcano said.
“The average Vene-zuelan makes 8,000 Bolivares or roughly US $1,270 per month. Our research shows that with a population of 28.9 million, Venezuela has an un-employment rate of 7.9 percent.
Ambassador Marca-no said the Maduro government is con-fident that when Venezuelans go to the polls to elect their 165 representatives in August, (there are some 29 million voters), they will return President Maduro to power.