Protesters in Venezuela are paving the way for a foreign attack or invasion similar to the Libyan case, the bullet that shot a protesting regional beauty queen came from the crowd, and the protesters in Barbados are misinformed of the true situation.
These are the views of Venezuelan Ambassador to Barbados Jose Gomez Febres, who told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview that protests rocking his country are financed by groups in the United States and Colombia, who want a return to a pre-Chavez era when the huge oil revenue was in the control of the rich and middle class, while most of the population lived in poverty.
He said that the former controlling class not only wants to restore their monopoly of the nation’s wealth, but also to strike a blow against some CARICOM nations by taking away a preferential oil supply arrangement they are enjoying with Venezuela.
“The people who are leading these protests now, they had said many times that the first thing is to stop giving away oil to people who don’t deserve our solidarity,” he said this week. “They are talking about our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, our brothers and sisters in Cuba, our brothers and sisters in Ecuador, etcetera.”
CARICOM nations, with the exception of Barbados, Montserrat, and Trinidad and Tobago, since 2005 signed onto an arrangement that gives them oil below world prices at easy credit terms.
That deal was an initiative of now deceased President Hugo Chavez, and Febres explained that the past Venezuelan leader was able to offer this concession because shortly after coming to power, he wrested control of the oil industry from owners located in America and Britain. The current Venezuelan government is from Chavez’s political group.
“The oil resources were taken from their hands and put into the hands of the Venezuelan people and put to the services of the majority of the people, but not only to the majority of the people, also our brothers and sisters of Latin America and the Caribbean region. That is the reason why Chavez created PetroCaribe,” Febres said in this interview, in which he sought to counter the image being spread abroad about recent disturbances in Venezuela.
“They have spent several millions of dollars to explain to the people around the world that what is happening in Venezuela is a terrible attack on the human rights,” he said in reference to the alleged financiers of Venezuelan unrest.
While conceding that government forces did brutalise some protesters, he said the majority of images sent around the world were faked, and even named a major Spanish newspaper that he accused of leading the propaganda war, “because they are preparing – like they did with Libya and they are doing with Syria – they are preparing the public opinion for one eventual invasion to Venezuela”.
Dismissing the likelihood of such plans succeeding, he contended the intention is to have countries like the US using a strategy of ‘leading from behind’ as was done in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya when NATO forces appeared to be bombing areas in that country on their initiative, but charged the US was acting behind the scenes as now obtains in Syria, where rich Arab kingdoms are used to finance rebellion and the impression given of the government acting in a brutal manner.
This false image, he said has affected a number of Venezuelan nationals resident in Barbados who earlier this month staged a protest outside the Hastings Embassy.
“They are some kinds of expatriates. They have been living in Barbados for many years, and they have a vision of the reality in Venezuela that have been created by those strong media that belong to the oil ruling classes and the social media,” he said, and added: “They have in their minds been poisoned by hatred. They hate everything that has to do with Chavez, with the Government.”
But, he said that they are Venezuelans and are at all times welcomed to seek representation on any matter at the embassy.
“We will continue attending to them. Because we think they have the right to express their political position. They have that right.”
He said that among the untrue international reports are allegations that state forces have been killing many civilians, though that might be the case in some instances.
He cited an instance on February 12 when three protesters were killed, explaining that two of the victims died from shots fired by police, and those officers were arrested and await trial.
“Those protesters who were killed by agents from the Government, those agents have been detained and have been put to the order of the justice and they will be condemned by the Venezuelan justice,” Febres said in halting English.
“Some protesters have been killed and maybe most of the people who have been killed are not protesters.”
He said the wildly circulated report on of a beauty queen from a region in Venezuela who was shot to death while protesting is an example on the misleading information being spread.
He said that the woman, Genesis Carmona, 22, who was crowned Miss Tourism 2013 in her home state of Carabobo, had been shot behind the head while in a crowd of protesters facing police.
“It had to be a member from the protest. That was proven by the investigations. The criminal investigation determined it clearly,” Febres said.
He said that a companion of the woman later told CNN that the shot killing her came from within the crowd.
Febres said, “The shot entered the head of the miss here [touching the back of his head], and the police was facing the protesters. And that is clear. Everything has been documented, that is the reason we are not afraid to discuss the problem”.