Interview with Alfred de Zayas, the only UN rapporteur during the Bolivarian revolution.
Sir, you went personally to Venezuela on behalf of the UN last year. What is the situation in the country?
Alfred de Zayas
I am the first and only UN rapporteur to have visited Venezuela in 21 years. I have opened the door for other rapporteurs and even for the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who was officially invited in December. My visit lasted from 26 November to 5 December2017. I met with members of the National Assembly, chamber of commerce, diplomatic corps, opposition groups, non-governmental organizations, church leaders, professors university students.
There was no "humanitarian crisis", as confirmed to me by FAO and CEPAL // nothing to compare with Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Central AfricanRepublic, etc. But indeed there was scarcity of foods and medicines. The situation has gotten much worse since Dec. 2017 because of Trumps sanctions and the economic and financial blockade.
What are the effects of the unilateral sanctions of Us and European Union for th the economy of the country and for the Venezuelan population?
The economic war is asphyxiating the country, causing much suffering amongst the most vulnerable. As I wrote in my report to the Human Rights Coouncil, sanctions kill. The government has met increased difficulty in obtaining insulin, anti/malaria medicine, anti/retroviral drugs etc. The distribution chains have also been disrupted by the internal war being conducted by the opposition. Most of the economy is still in the private sector and there have been numerous instances of hoarding, whereby foods and medicines are not distributed to supermarkets and pharmacies, but stored and then released into the black market. To the extent that people have died of malnutrition of lack of dialysis and other medical services as a result of the sanctions, this raises issues of civil and criminal liability by the countries that impose the sanctions, knowing they will cause death. It is premeditated homicide. It is not just collateral damage.
Is Venezuela really in a “humanitarian crisis”, as mainstream media say in unified networks every day?
Humanitarian crisis is a hyperbole. Of course there is scarcity but the cause is in the concerted effort by the US,Canada,EU to cause chaos in Venezuela, expecting that the government will fall.
The level of machiavellism and cynicism is breathtaking. Besides, the term "humanitarian crisis"is a short/cut to humanitarian intervention // of course military intervention to impose regime change.
How do you judge the decision of the European Union and the United Nations to not present themselves as observers in the early elections requested by the opposition of May 20, 2018 despite a formal invitation from the Caracas government?
Bad faith. But there were other international observers //notably the CEELA// the oldest and most established monitoring organization in Latin America. I can send you their final report on the 20 May elections which were under the Venezuelan Constitution both legal and legitimate and more than 9 million Venezuelans (47% participated). The opposition partie MUD and Voluntad Popular boycotted, but other opposition leaders garnered 32% of the vote //Henri Falcon 21 % and Bertucci 11% . Maduro received 68% if the ballots cast.
How do you judge from the point of view of international law the recognition of the self-proclaimed 'interim president' Juan Guaidò, carried out by the United States, Latin American satellites and some European Union countries?
A breach of customary international law, in particular a breach of Chapter 4, Article 19 of the OAS Charter,and of articles 1 ans 2 of the UN Charter. The principle of non interference in the internal affairs of STates has been recognized in many judgments of the International Court of Justice, including Nicaragua v. US back in 1986.
Do you consider the dialogue path launched in Montevideo on the initiative of the governments of Mexico and Uruguay, also supported by Evo Morales Bolivia as the correct path to follow?
Absolutely. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has similarly called for mediation and offered his good offices. But the Venezuelan opposition rejects dialogue, because they want to grab power through a coup d'etat. Latin America has already seen too many right wing coups. And nothing is more undemocratic and corrosive of the rule of law than a coup d'etat