Did Minister Padrino Say That the Opposition will Never be a Political Power in Venezuela?

Numerous Venezuelan and international media have reviewed the words of the Venezuelan Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino López, issued on July 5 from the National Pantheon, according to whom he allegedly stated that “the Venezuelan opposition will not be political power in Venezuela never ever”and that “they will never be able to exercise political power in Venezuela.” The media accompany him with a short video, of about 50 seconds, with the minister’s words. Venezuelan opposition politicians have harshly criticized his alleged words, claiming that Minister Padrino is banning the opposition, some have even dared to claim that he made “a declaration of war.” Are those really the words of the Defense Minister?

In this regard, we have extracted from the complete speech of the Minister of Defense, issued this July 5 to commemorate the 209 years of the independence of Venezuela, a 5-minute fragment in which he talks about the subject, with all the context of the case. We invite you to listen to it and form your own opinion on the words of the Defense Minister.

In the video, the minister refers to a communique issued by the “fake” national assembly led by opposition deputy Juan Guaidó. If you watch the video, you will notice that Padrino is not talking about all the opposition, but he was particularly responding to the issuers of that communique.

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Padrino López says in one part: “A communique came out from a faction, presumably a national assembly, a mixed commission, where we (the military) are invited, dear comrades-in-arms, to align ourselves and make a greater commitment to the defense of the Essequibo. Look at that!”

We remind readers from other countries that in Venezuela cohabit:

  • A legal National Assembly, chaired by the opposition deputy Luis Parra, recognized by the Supreme Court of Justice and the rest of Venezuelan institutions.
  • A parallel national assembly, led by opposition deputy Juan Guaidó, which is not recognized by Venezuelan institutions and is usurping functions from the previous one, but which is supported by the government of the United States and other countries. Many international media simply call it “the National Assembly”, falsely implying that it is the only one that exists.
  • In addition, there is the National Constituent Assembly, which is chaired by Diosdado Cabello Rondón.

On June 28, a commission from the fake national assembly led by Juan Guaidó, called Codefa-AN (Commission for the Defense of the Essequibo and its Atlantic Façade), issued a statement about Guayana Esequiba, an area in territorial dispute of more than 150 thousand square kilometers, with the Republic of Guyana.

It is worth mentioning that in recent months an audio of Vanessa Neumann, Guaido’s fake ambassador to the UK, has been circulated where she asks Guaido not to talk about the Essequibo dispute in order to have the full recognition of the UK government.

In that statement, Codefa-AN accuses the Venezuelan government of mishandling the dispute, but also, at point 9, they make the following call to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB):

“The CODEFA-AN calls again to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to reestablish the rule of law and protect the territorial integrity of the Republic in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, lending its support in the formation of a National Emergency Government.”

The “National Emergency Government” is the proposal made by Juan Guaidó at the end of March 2020. to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power and create a government with opposition factors, with the alleged purpose of responding to the emergency created by the Covid-19 coronavirus, bypassing any constitutional provision. In its communiqué, the Codefa-AN calls for the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to “restore the rule of law” and “lend its support” to the formation of that National Emergency Government proposed by Guaidó.

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In other words, Codefa-AN is asking the FANB to carry out a coup that removes Maduro from power and allows them to create their illegal “Government of National Emergency.”

It is to this group or faction that General in Chief Vladimir Padrino López responds to on his July 5th speech, in an outraged way as this group, led by Juan Guaidó, is demanding that he carry out a coup against President Nicolás Maduro.

How can you respond to a group of politicians who are demanding to come to power through an illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional way? Padrino López did it this way: “You, to reach political power, will have to pass through the conscience of the entire Venezuelan people (…) You will never ever be a political power in Venezuela. As long as there is an Armed Force like the one we have today, anti-imperialist, revolutionary, Bolivarian, they will never be able to exercise political power in Venezuela!”

He later added: “This faction of political thugs – implying that it is a group or a part of the opposition – have dared to make a statement out of demand, to demand more commitment from us, when the FANB has given concrete demonstrations, in view of all the people of Venezuela, of their patriotic interest, of defending the integrity of our territory, which is not an option for us. It is a constitutional duty! They will never be a political power in Venezuela, with such a surly, genuflexed, pro-imperialist attitude. If we are celebrating anything today, it is our revolutionary character and Venezuelan independence.”

A person who listens to the video in its proper context will quickly realize that Padrino López is not referring to all the opposition, but to this sector that is continuously calling, since the self-proclamation of Juan Guaidó as alleged interim president on 23 January 2019, to carry out a coup against Nicolás Maduro to remove him from the Presidency.

It is noteworthy that the National Electoral Council announced on July 1 that the 2020 parliamentary elections will be held on December 6. In this regard, Juan Guaidó himself ruled on July 5 calling “all sectors not to lend themselves to a farce and not participate” in the legislative elections.

It is difficult to understand why the sectors led by Guaidó are, on the one hand, outraged by the words of Padrino López but, on the other, call not to participate in the legislative elections. Furthermore, they call on the FANB to carry out a coup d’état, but then they get upset when a senior FANB spokesperson tells them that, with undemocratic attitudes like these, they will never come to political power.

Although the international media “leads readers to understand that in Venezuela there is only the opposition led by Juan Guaidó, every Venezuelan and every Venezuelan knows that there are numerous parties, groups and factions that are also part of the Venezuelan political opposition, who do wish to participate in the elections of December 6, as well as in the elections that are held in the future.

Featured image: Venezuelan Minister of Defense, General Vladimir Padrino during the ceremony conmesddewmoratin the 209th aniversary of Venezuela’s Independence. July 5th, 2020. Courtesy CEOFANB.

(Alba Ciudad)