Orlenys Ortiz, venezuelan digital communicator: «That cliché that the elections are fraudulent has the political objective of attacking Venezuela»
Orlenys Ortiz, Venezuelan digital communicator, analyzed in an interview in Voces Sin Fronteras, conducted by Bruno Sommer and Denis Rogatyuk, the scenario that Venezuela is experiencing in the face of the parliamentary elections that will take place on December 6.
«This cliché that the elections are fraudulent is simply a construction that starts from the media framework, but with the always permanent political objective of attacking Venezuela», she said.
She also highlighted that from before the process, during and even after, there is a set of 17 audits that are carried out with international oversight. «The Venezuelan electoral system is 100% auditable», she said.
By Bruno Sommer and Denis Rogatyuk
In the context of the elections that are going to take place in Venezuela this Sunday, December 6, how do you see the balance of forces and what results can we expect if we make an analysis of what the country’s latest electoral processes have been?
There is a prior context to analyze, an important question to discuss and that is the following: how did these latest events happen here? We know that Venezuela is a country that is always holding elections, this is number 25 and the atmosphere is perceived, But before that vote, that we are going to exercise, it is good to contrast.
I put two key examples: one is in 2015 when the Venezuelan opposition won the national Parliament (AN). There was a whole scenario in those parliamentary elections on December 15 of that year. It was not a spontaneous act, the fact that suddenly the population decided to vote against the Government. There was a prior preparation that generated this result and we have to insist a lot on that. That happened five years ago and even today many people around the world are not clear about what happened in those elections.
I am going to describe them very briefly, here the economic power, particularly private, has always had – let’s say – an important control over the economy of the country and precisely at that time, with political objectives, they began to generate a hostile climate in the economic sphere of product supply and they began to generate scarcity and induced hyperinflation, hoarding, simplification of production which means that they ‘reduced’ instead of producing more, they produced certain presentations, like the largest presentations in some products so as to complicate the situation for the venezuelan families that could only afford the small presentations of margarine, for example. It was a disaster at that time. They hid medicines, tons of milk were buried, expired medicines were found in sheds.
These were a ‘set’ of situations that generated those queues that they capitalized on that December 15 because it was very easy for them to hide behind the electoral card of the Unidad Democrática (Democratic Union), without showing their faces, without campaigning, without showing names.
They hid behind the discontent they created and said: ‘look: at all this is the government’s fault, vote against that’, what they called the punishment vote (voto castigo), and under that manipulation, all that induced crisis, was how the unnameable (Juan Guaidó) self-proclaimed became a deputy, not even those who voted for him knew they were doing it.
There were simply the people who voted for the National Assembly that won and the people who did not vote, precisely because of that discontent. They ones who did vote, did it because they had been manipulated through the situation that the opposition had generated.
So, that first moment is key so as to understand what is happening because those same people (the ones that generated that atmosphere of discontent in 2015) are the ones who – in the last five years – have been asking for economic sanctions, demanding much more blockade, intervention and they have deepened it much more and are trying to do the same now with the difference that people are already clearer about what they have done, about who are the ones who have called for intervention.
Who are the main opposition forces in dispute for the AN seats and why was Parliament found in contempt?
When the opposition arrived at the Assembly on January 5, 2016, once they had won, the first thing they did was remove the painting of Bolívar and Hugo Chávez, and the first thing the first president of the Assembly said – which was Henry Ramos Allup of the political party Acción Democrática ´ (Democratic Action) – is that they would give the president of the Republic six months (in the presidency). An issue that is not in the competence of the national Parliament and from there, they dedicated themselves to instrumentalize it (the AN) as a center for a coup action. They forgot about the legislative construction as such and they simply dedicated themselves to perverting a power of the State so as to carry out a coup and overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.
As the years passed, these characters changed their role in the National Assembly, due to an agreement they made, each year a different representative of the opposition political parties took control of the National Assembly as its President. Julio Borges passed through there (Borges was President of the National Assembly during one year) and is right now in Colombia conspiring against Venezuela, and then the aforementioned Juan Guaidó emerges and from there began a series of negative things for the country but also a decline for the Venezuelan opposition in general.
In particular, from that moment on, a set of Dialogue Tables were also generated in Norway, and a set of national tables to which that other part of the opposition, let’s say democratic – which means that it does not believe in intervention or violence, and wants Venezuelans to resolve their issues by peaceful means – decided to be part of that dialogue table and they are the ones who are participating in these elections on December 6.
The previous National Assembly entered into contempt because it put emphasis to use that State power to simply make a coup, without recognition of the rest of the State Powers, without recognition of the Executive Power as such.There are five Powers in Venezuela and each one acts autonomously, and simply, based on the fact that they had the majority in the National Assembly, it (the NA) took attributions that did not correspond to it. And the Supreme Court of justice simply executes, attached to the Constitution, a series of procedures to more or less channel the legislative issue.
How is Venezuela preparing to face the media reaction to the rumor of electoral fraud if the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) wins? What international observers will participate in the process?
There are some informative tips that we can give regarding the new structuring of the Venezuelan electoral system, because of a terrorist act, when the Venezuelan extreme right burned more than 70% of the voting machines in Venezuela in the Mariches warehouse ( Miranda state) where they were located, believing that with that they would prevent the execution of the parliamentary elections, rather, what they did was a favor to the Venezuelan electoral system because before, it was a voting machine where there was a card where you marked and next to it was the machine that used to print the piece of paper, now the system is much more sophisticated. Now, the new machines that replaced those burned, is a single one. It is integrated with a sound system, for example, to serve people with hearing disabilities, it is completely tactile, it is super fast, simple And a key to the Venezuelan electoral process is that from before the process, during and even after, there is a set of 17 audits that are carried out with international oversight and this does not happen in the rest of the world.
The Venezuelan electoral system is 100% auditable and these previous audits that are also transmitted via streaming, on the page of the National Electoral Council (CNE), can be seen by people from all over the world and also by the electoral technicians belonging to the political organizations that are also participating in the election. Also the international oversight of South Africa, Iran, China, Russia, Turkey, there is also the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts who have been accompanying the process all this time and have given their statements on this matter.
If so far, all the parties that are participating, which are more than 105 organizations that are there, have not raised their hands to say ‘I object to this’, they have endorsed, they have signed a document after each of the audits, that states their conformity .
So, this cliché that the elections are fraudulent is simply a construction that starts from the media framework, but with the political objective, always, permanent, of attacking Venezuela because it is completely insubordinate.
What kind of media attacks are we anticipating through the use of social networks for this election day and how are you going to combat them?
Unlike what happened with Jair Bolsonaro, where people received five thousand messages a day on WhatsApp, with pure propaganda and false news and it did not transcend much further, let’s say to physical action, here (in Venezuela), given the previous context, given the manifest intentions because they are not hidden and all the issues that they (the opposition) always do by violent means…we are expecting that everything will pass peacefully, but we are also clear that it is very likely that these people will generate some sources of violence, probably mixed with the Colombian paramilitarism financed from Washington, because these kinds of things are what they use to be able to conquer power.
They (The violent opposition) are not participating, they have been saying – for many months – that they will not recognize the election. They are doing the international lobby so that certain international organizations join then in not recognizing the election on December 6th. In fact, the European Union is one of those organizations which has been saying that they will not recognize the election, although we know that it is the host of the coup leader Leopoldo López, a fugitive from Venezuelan justice… but this whole situation does not dampen the democratic will of the people anyway.
We saw – when the constituent, in 2017 – how they pretended that people did not go to vote on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. They even put paramilitaries there to threaten people in the most remote places so that they would not attend their voting center and the people, as a whole, went along the ‘green paths’ – as we say here – they crossed rivers, to be able to go to their center.
So, the democratic vocation of the Venezuelans is also a fundamental factor that will undoubtedly make a difference in that sense. Regardless of what they say and want through the mass media, international recognition or not or ignorance of the matter, or through violent means in the territory, I believe that the Venezuelan population is prepared for this election, given the circumstances and given the record that the aforementioned (violent opposition) have.
What are the harshest impacts of the blockade that you have observed in the country this year?
In a context of pandemic, a sanctioned country that is unable to buy its medicines, all the supplies required for efficient care or the greatest possible optimization (of our health system) during the pandemic, which is an issue that is also not only in Venezuela but worldwide. An impossibility of being able to buy food given the problems we have in terms of production, the issue of gasoline where they have just hijacked the ships with gasoline that came from Iran. The United States simply captures them and does what they want with them because they are the policemen of the world and nobody says anything to them and for that, there is an endorsement of the so-called international community, for that there is media silence, but if it had been Venezuela that goes and steals a gasoline ship from another country, then, it is the Maduro ‘drug regime’ that is there violating any number of things.
The impact has been overwhelming in terms of our ability to fully address the crisis in general. However there are a set of tools that have helped us to contain this situation and some are tools created precisely by the economic model proposed by the Bolivarian Revolution and its Government and that were born out of the crisis, which are, for example, the subject of the Barrio Adentro Mission in health matters. Since 2003 we have an agreement with Cuba with which we have managed to install a community health system where a Cuban or Venezuelan doctor is in the most vulnerable neighborhood attending and living there with the community. That is a factor that has helped in this context of pandemic, also – of course – the international aid from Russia and China, mainly in terms of supplies to address the pandemic.
But fundamentally in that point, in how the sanctions affect our supply of food and medicine, is why we consider the sanctions a crime against humanity, and we have to repeat that again and again so that the international community in all parts of the world understands and measures precisely that, what they (the violent opposition) do is project themselves all the time, they accuse others of drug traffickers, of genocide, of human rights violators and it is them who are violating the human rights of all the people of Venezuela.
The issue of the gold stolen by the United Kingdom Government has also been very important, although the legal process is underway …
Those responsible for that, had a setback recently in the courts of the United Kingdom where, simply, while the speech of non-recognition of the Government of President Maduro and the recognition of Guaidó and that he would administer those resources served their interests in the media.
Venezuela appealed that absurd measure, because you really have to be ignorant not to realize what they are doing, that is, it is modern or postmodern piracy and fortunately there we are, we are not alone, in international terms we have an exemplary diplomatic movement that is working constantly, all the time. That is also key, to be able to put pressure there, to be able to stand firm in those scenarios where they not only intended to attack us by violent means, but by unconventional means and that is why many people do not perceive it. To incorporate the judicial part in the attacks against a country, seems to be what is done nowdays.
How many millions are the PSUV members and what makes it such a successful party?
In the last registration that was carried out, there were more than 6 million registered in the political party. It is an unprecedented movement that has continued to grow, because in fact a new registration day had been incorporated and the pandemic came and that also stopped, but there were nation wide registration days where this was going to skyrocket and surely they would even exceed 7 million. It is an extraordinary and quite surprising issue that has been strengthened during the crisis period, which is somewhat paradoxical, that perhaps people think that in a crisis context an organization of this type can be weakened and, rather, what it does is to strengthen itself, because the party (PSUV), beyond being a political instrument to participate in elections and conquer spaces of power in the State, is also constituted as a movement, as an organization in the smallest detail, that is.
Here, in the PSUV, there are tens of thousands of street leaders, community leaders, the whole of the UBCH (Bolívar Chávez Battle Units), so there is a territorial structure that has been taking shape for a long time but that lately, in the crisis, saw the need to unify, to solidify and, well, there are the results, condensed in greater organization.
The issue of mapping the territory is important, so people are making these models where they identify each of the houses or homes in each of the communities, at that level of detail, there is the organization within a party structure that – of course – has a concrete political leadership but it is in the organization and in the massive participation in the smallest space that is ensuring that it repeatedly has this success and in this electoral process I guarantee that the organization is even greater.
How has COVID-19 been handled in recent months in Venezuela and has the opposition taken advantage of this crisis in any way?
Of course, what they (the opposition) do not take advantage of is rare, and they always look for any way, not only to try – because they are not successful either because they are really mediocre – to capitalize on some complicated political situation but, also, they always attack, they never propose solutions, they just attack,, but it backfires because the success in managing the pandemic here in Venezuela is evident.
While corpses were seen in the streets of Ecuador, which is an issue that cannot be hidden when there is a pandemic disaster, at that same time here, in Venezuela, there were no deceased. We lasted about two months, without reporting deaths, and then it was stagnant at that time as in 10 people who has died because of Covid19, and then it was that it gradually increased but that positive result of how the desease was handled here in Venezuela, was not – obviously – made public in the national hegemonic press and much less in the international press.
It was not to be recognized by those opposition factors who will never recognize anything, no matter how good a management of whatever it is, because the purpose is simply to overthrow the national government, so they can take control of the country, but not to work for the people but to enrich their pockets, which is what has historically been the ‘salt in the wound’ for them; that the Bolivarian Revolution took away that possibility of enriching themselves at the expense of the State’s resources. That is their custom, their habit, and when they are unable to exploit, to extract our resources as they did from the colony, because now their north, their objective is simply to overthrow the Government that prevents them from obtaining that.
That is their logic, not only blaming the other but starting from such a dissociation that it feeds that alienation that people in general have had for so long through the entertainment industry that it has been the one that has restricted the ability to discern, above all, of the youth who allow themselves to be manipulated by social networks, by advertising campaigns, by a set of things, which prevents them from questioning themselves a little more.
However, we have gained ground, with the management that certain governments have had of the pandemic, with the political disaster that the right wing here, the opposition, have had at the national and international level, with that shameful decline that they have had, so much failure. Failure from so many failed coups, and that we are still here. President Maduro continues to resist, the Venezuelan people continue to resist, that we continue to hold our elections, whatever the European Union, the United States says, whatever whoever says, because we are an independent country.
So here the situation continues its march, people continue on their way. There is a democratic opposition that is participating, which has been openly given space in the national public media system, which is campaigning in their territories, without any kind of intimidation, because that is how we do things here, not in the madness of these people that what they want is the violent way.
In Venezuela, a year of political events, is like 10 years in any other country.
How do you evaluate the leadership of President Maduro and how do you see the advance of Socialism in the 21st century?
On the leadership of President Maduro, against all odds for many people, that a president not only has the will to be there resisting based on the commitment he has not only with the people but with Chávez, who was the one who bequeathed that task to him, but also the matter of his capacity…Fortunately, the President has the capacity to do it, he continues to resist. He is a person who – although they constantly try to do the campaign that makes him look dumb- has the only government against which they have not been able to destroy, despite everything, he is there, firm, without any kind of intention to resign or even show some remote sign of giving up, quite the opposite. It is something in our nature, the more they attack us, the stronger we become.
And the recognition that has been won based on that, not only from Chavismo but also from sectors of the opposition, because there was a period in which the President was not recognized, like as if he were a joke, because he did not come precisely with that preparation to be President but took on the ‘task’ at the last minute but, given the circumstances and his character, even opposition factors have recognized him. They have gone from being on the side of those who claim for the sanctions to being against them, rejecting them and defending democratic ways.
How can Venezuelans be helped from the international sphere in the midst of all these difficulties?
A space like this is vital, because these spaces, that seem small, in the end are really huge because they are those cracks where information can get out and people abroad can get to know our truth.
The thing is not that Venezuela is the one that suffers from the media siege, it is the rest of the world that suffers from the media siege based on what happens when a people , like the Venezuelans, rebel against those who want to control our lives. In the case of Spain where I was, they do not allow the Spanish people to know anything else, that is, if it were not through social networks, they do not find out about a lot of realities that exist here. It is not a question of denying the difficulties, we are going through a severe multifactorial crisis, not a humanitarian crisis..
We have the task of constantly insisting on these spaces, where we can tell some truths and invite other people to investigate, not to be fooled, not to believe in the traditional media that historically belong to economic groups with very clear political interests. Anyone can also become a communicator. A person with a telephone can make enormous contributions in this fight that not only benefits Venezuela, but everyone.
And we also see that a popular uprising that is bearing fruit is also an inspiration for other peoples who want to claim their rights. This issue is also fundamental, the mobilizing echo for the peoples to wake up.
Do you think that with Joe Biden there will be any change in Venezuela’s relationship with the United States?
First, to emphasize authoritarianism over there (in the US). They do not allow international observers and they have the audacity of pointing their finger to Venezuela because ‘it does not allow it’, but that is absolutely false. There (in the US), if you are a journalist and you want to take a look at how things are going, they will put you in jail. And that does not happen in Venezuela, so it is a set of things that need to be changed, because the US electoral system is not democratic or transparent. In the US the one who has the most votes is not the one who wins, everything is a super crazy conspiracy. The people do not really participate fully. They (the US) have a set of several questionable elements. They demand and vilify the Venezuelan CNE and they had two weeks without offering results when in Venezuela, for example, we give the results the same night.
I insist, it is the people of the world who have the media siege on what really happens in Venezuela and that is why these spaces are fundamental.
Regarding Biden, we could say its the same thing. Many people were confused because they allow themselves to be manipulated precisely by the media and all its ‘bombardment’ of ‘information’. They get the feeling that ‘this guy (Biden) is from the left, now we are going to conquer our rights’, because of Biden’s conservative speech, like improving public services, of access to certain rights that are common sense, but it is the same people, in the end. Those who govern the US are those who are behind, It is Washington, it is the power itself, it is not the people.
One of the things that I pointed out was the emphasis in certain campaigns on the figure of Trump and no, I consider that what must be attacked is the bottom of the thing, not personalizing it, because presidents pass, and another arrives and does the same or worse. In the case of Biden, he was the one who endorsed the war against Iraq, he was there endorsing genocide and he is the same guy who with a face, supposedly washed by the media, presents himself as a good person. So what I think is that Biden is going to use internal discourse to improve certain conditions in the life of the Americans but his foreign policy is going to be warlike. It is in his essence, he is not the one who is going to come and say we are now friends with Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, no, that is false, people have to remove that chip from their heads that was installed through the media and social networks, and really realize who that character is.
There are militant media that are always at the disposal of the people to know the truth and to offer that little window, that – of course – they will not have in the traditional press.
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