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Venezuelan Foreign Minister: The U.S. Interferes in Latin American Politics Every Day, Every Hour

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The U.S.-led effort targeting the oil-rich nation of Venezuela dates back two decades, since the late Hugo Chávez became president in 1999. In November, John Bolton accused Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua of being part of a “troika of tyranny.” In September, The New York Times reported the Trump administration conducted secret meetings with rebellious military officers in Venezuela to discuss overthrowing Maduro. We air more of our recent interview with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. He came into the Democracy Now! studio last week.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we continue to look at what’s taking place in Venezuela. I want to turn to Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Venezuela’s former vice president, as well, and Chávez’s son-in-law, the former president of Venezuela. I spoke to him last week and want to turn to an unaired excerpt of that interview. I asked him about the increasing pressure on the Maduro government from the U.S. and other countries.

JORGE ARREAZA: No, this has been happening since 1999. Our late president, Comandante Chávez, was also seen as a dictator, as a socialist, a dictator, and the United States government was behind a coup d’état in 2002 and all the sabotage to our oil industry. So, this has been happening, because we have the objective, the goal, of changing the model, of building a new democratic society, which we call the socialism of this new century. And we have the right to do it. And we are an independent and sovereign country.

And the thing is that here in the United States—not in the United States, I must say, not the people of the United States, but the elite that is in power, that is ruling the United States, they want—they believe that Latin America is their backyard. And they want to impose their model. And they want to have these presidents who are also businessmen and who follow the orders of the president of the United States. But we are not.

So, we’re trying to build our own society and in new terms and with equality, with access to health, to education, to housing, to culture. And that is our struggle. And, of course, what happens is that in those terms, the U.S. elite and the other countries, satellite countries of the United States, they are trying to isolate Venezuelan government. They are trying to stop this from happening. And it’s not going to happen.

But this is a difficult struggle, Amy. And we are really looking, and President Maduro has looked, for all the paths, all the way for dialogue. We had a dialogue process last year with the opposition in the Dominican Republic, hosted by the president of the Dominican Republic and the former president of Spain, Rodríguez Zapatero. And when we reached the agreement and we were there to sign the agreement, the opposition received orders from the State Department here, and they didn’t sign. And then they didn’t—some of the parties didn’t register for the elections. And now they say that the elections were a fraud. And now they say that Maduro is not our president. That is all part of a coup d’état in progress, encouraged and funded by the United States government.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does it mean to you that AMLO, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador—the stance he has taken in support of Venezuela?

JORGE ARREAZA: AMLO, the president of Mexico, is very important for Latin America at the moment. It’s one of the most important countries. It has borders with the United States. And they are—with this new government, they are, again, a sovereign country. And they are trying to help not only Venezuela. They’re trying to help Nicaragua. They’re trying to help Cuba. They’re trying to help the other countries. They want to have good relations with all the countries in Latin America. But they want to solve the Latin American issues in Latin America, and no interventionism from the United States in our countries.

AMY GOODMAN: AMLO, President López Obrador, refused to back the Lima Group stance questioning Maduro’s legitimacy. He said, “We’ve said with a lot of clarity that we’re going to respect the constitutional principles of nonintervention … in foreign policy matters. We don’t interfere in internal matters of other countries, and we don’t want the governments of other countries to meddle in matters that correspond only to Mexicans.”

JORGE ARREAZA: Mm-hmm, yes. That’s what every country has to do. We cannot be interfering. I mean, you say here in the United States that Russia interfered in the campaign of Trump and the elections, and that’s not good. It shouldn’t have happened, if it happened. I believe it didn’t happen. But the United States interferes every single—not day, every single hour, in the Venezuelan issues, in the Cuban issues, in Nicaraguan and all over Latin America. So, it’s bad for Russia to interfere here, but it’s good for Washington to interfere in Latin America? Of course, that’s not fair.

And I believe that the president of Mexico is right. We have to respect each other. We have to respect the principles of international law. I mean, if you join the United Nations, it’s because you respect the internal affairs of the other states. It’s because you respect the equality of states. It’s because you don’t have the right to interfere in other nations. That’s not what the United States does. They have done wars in Iraq. President Trump said that he regretted—we regretted that the United States invaded Iraq, because now the situation is worse than it was with Saddam Hussein. And the same in Libya.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, speaking on Democracy Now! last week. To hear the whole hour, you can go to democracynow.org.

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Historian: Venezuela Is “Staging Ground” for U.S. to Reassert Control Over Latin America

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