The Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Iran, who has also had military strategic and operational commandership in his records, believes if talks go right between the Presidents of Venezuela and the US, the Venezuelan opposition will support it undoubtedly, for it is the US who advocates them. To study the internal developments of Venezuela and the ties between Tehran and Caracas, we conducted an interview with Jesus Gregorio Gonzalez Gonzalez which you may find below. It must be maintained that upon the considerations of the Venezuelan Embassy, parts of the interview regarding Iran-Venezuela ties have been deleted.
AVA Diplomatic’s Exclusive Interview with Mr. Jesús Gregorio González González,
Ambassador of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Iran
Interview by Mohammadreza Nazari
When and how did you get to know the late Hugo Chavez? What military and academic positions did you have before coming to Iran?
I am a faithful, God-believing person and I believe nothing happens all by itself. Everything follows God’s will. That is why I am thankful to God for my experiences in life.
I came to know Com. Hugo Chavez when I was 17. In fact, when I was studying at the Military Academy of Venezuela, I began to know him and kept touch with him up until March, 2013 when he passed away.
From 2007 to 2009, I was promoted in military rankings on an orderly basis, and was Venezuela’s strategic and operational commander which was ranked second only after Com. Hugo Chavez in the Venezuelan system.
Com. Hugo Chavez and I experienced the revolutionary era in Venezuela together and such splendid experiences were made after my second-lieutenant rank.
Those chapters created a chance for me to accompany Com. Hugo Chavez. In 1992, when the coup took place, I was lieutenant colonel and a student at the Military Academy of Venezuela.
Important things happened that led me to accompany Com. Chavez in accomplishing every mission during his commandership, presidency and all other stages of his life.
The chairmanship of the Military University of Venezuela was the most significant, most important thing he tasked me with. In this academic institution, nearly 200 thousand students were receiving education as revolutionaries and it was considered to be one of the biggest Venezuelan universities that has branches all across the country. Later on, I was proposed as the Chief of Strategic Defense Research Center of UNASUR Defense Council.
There is news on backdoor negotiations between Venezuelan and American officials and it was in this direction that two US Senators Venezuela and met Mr. Maduro. Are there any détente negotiations in progress between the two countries?
It is not impossible and things may happen. Americans always send a third party to tamper with the situation, but the government has not published any official precise news.
Is it possible for Mr. Maduro to meet with Mr. Trump like the North Korean Leader did?
The President of Venezuela has expressed his readiness to negotiate with Mr. Trump to work out the problems anytime, anywhere.
A while ago, we had called on the Venezuelan Ambassador to Spain; but Mr. Maduro has just said he is ready to send someone to Spain to resume and restore ties between the two countries, and that was how Ambassadors returned to their respective countries.
The last one was about Panama. For 90 days, economic relations between Panama and Venezuela were cut due to tensions and their sanctions and Mr. Maduro expressed his readiness to once again negotiate with the President of Panama in this regard.
The truth is Venezuela strives for mutual understanding, dialog and international peace, and negotiations are part of our country’s objectives and measures.
There is a strong opposition against Mr. Maduro in Venezuela that prevents voices for talks between Venezuelan and US officials from sounding in unison. The opposition seems to be putting excessive pressure on the President and that weakens his position when it comes to negotiations with Trump. What is your take on this?
If Mr. Maduro negotiates with the US, the opposition will undoubtedly support him, because the US provides financial support for them.
In fact, the diplomatic mission of the US is to financially support the opposition leaders so they can travel to European countries and talk. In other words, the opposition in our country is a US puppet.
Their prescription for us is unacceptable and in that case, Iran and Venezuela share a similar ground. The US has been fighting the Islamic Revolution for the past 40 years and it has been 60 years since they first started this approach toward the revolution in Cuba.
Why should thousands of Venezuelan citizens be displaced on their way to Cucuta to go to Columbia despite such great wealth in their country?
Nearly 60% of those who crossed the borders were Columbians. In fact, around 5 million Columbians lived in Venezuela who left our country.
We are not denying the fact that some people are looking for a better life; it is just like what happened after WWII in Europe. Although we are not at war now, our situation has some similarities to that time, and it can be called an economic war.
There are ships that carry food to Venezuela but never arrive at their destination. Ships that carry pharmaceuticals for Venezuela can never gain permission to access the country and will face blockades and embargos.
The Columbian pharmaceutical company has banned the export of its products to Venezuela, and these are all measures that the US takes with its allies against us.
They find honor in driving the Venezuelan Revolution to an end. When Obama was President in the US, he said Venezuela is considered to be an unusual threat to the security and foreign policy of the United States, while Venezuela does not threaten any country and is only after independence and freedom among others. We continue our alliance with China, Russia, Iran and any other country that stands against the US.
Given the current situation, how do you analyze the interior status of Venezuela? Will the opposition be weakened? Or will it once again gain power with the US supports?
You reminded me of two things. The first one is about Mr. Bolivar when in the 19th century, freedom fighters wanted to kill the liberator and he had to hide.
After his survival, Simon Bolivar said we have to fight and win, and years after that, a similar story happened for Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. But Fidel Castro authorized the progress of the revolution despite the lack of equipment and said, “We will go forward and win despite that.”
As brothers to Chavez, we think of nothing else than the victory of the Bolivarian Revolution. The victory of the Bolivarian Revolution is the future. Nothing will change us, and we will continue our path, remove the obstacles and win.
I would like to point out something about the 1999 Constitution that makes me very proud. Some said it was pioneering and supportive of human rights and many had positive opinions about it.
It included everything related to human rights from respect, freedom, equality, education to respect to different religions and viewpoints. Mr. Chavez’s approach was for us to move and work in the direction of the law.
Our opposition is not Venezuelan. We cannot say they are Venezuelan opposition. They are an opposition stationed in Venezuela. They had to go away, but our Constitution did not allow that. In fact, the Constitution ties our hands sometimes.
Is an opposition-backed coup foreseeable in Venezuela?
It is impossible, because no coup can happen without armed forces. It was only Mr. Chavez who achieved his project through armed forces.
Undoubtedly, the US and imperialists are trying to penetrate our armed forces. There were a few cases, too, but not so bold. These cases were reported by the pro-government forces and later arrested. Therefore a coup and an end to the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela are impossible.
However, a coup took place in 2002 which was the early years of the Bolivarian Revolution and we did not have much supervision on the armed forces. Almost 6 generals worked on that coup but had no soldiers for it.
Com. Chavez formed unity between the armed forces and the nation, which still exists. Some people doubted if the 2002 coup was really a coup, but after some time, their doubts were cleared. In fact, the Supreme Court, which is at the top of the country’s hierarchy, announced that the generals and those who worked with them had not committed a coup and it was only an attempt of ousting from power. Mr. Chavez remained silent for a few days, and then said we should abide by the ruling of the Court, even though evidence showed there was a coup. Mr. Chavez cleared their accusations and dismissed them from work. We have learned to behave like him and forgive.
Mr. Maduro’s approach is based on his learning from Mr. Chavez. We follow those footsteps, keep our distance, and show our respect, and that is how they are now free.
What agreements have Iran and Venezuela signed about pharmaceuticals?
Pharmaceutical agreements have been in place since years ago. We had a meeting to cover this matter 2 months ago. We can use the entire Iranian pharmaceutical capabilities in Venezuela and our efforts aim to remove the existing barriers.
The meetings I referred to had the same objective, and some barriers were removed as well as negotiations regarding financial aspects and implementation of the project.
Iran’s pharmaceuticals can take care of our medicinal needs. The governments of Iran and Venezuela are constantly negotiating the financial aspects, whereas we could never solve the problems if we went to European and American banks. This is a fight which I hope we will win in the future.
According to a WHO report, the rate of increase in getting Malaria in Venezuela in 2017 has been 407 thousand which shows 69% of rise compared to the year before. It is in contrast with the fact that Iran is a producer of malaria vaccines and has managed to stop the infection of this disease inside the country. Why doesn’t Venezuela use this capability?
Our objective when signing that MOU was to remove the obstacles to use Iran’s pharmaceutical capabilities, industries and products.
What are Your Excellency’s plans to strengthen political, cultural and economic relations between the two countries?
The relations between the two countries have decreased over the past few years due to sanctions, and the price of oil was effective, too.
After Mr. Chavez passed away and Mr. Maduro became President, things got worse, but the imperialistic dream about the Bolivarian Revolution coming to an end following the death of Mr. Chavez never came true.
The fall in the price of oil was not the sole reason, though, and the US started its pressures on us, including threats, sanctions and economic war that started after the death of Mr. Chavez which started in the borders of Columbia. Their objective is to prevent us from being in touch with our allies and to make some changes inside the country.
At the moment, there are meetings in the US and at the World Bank to impose sanctions on Venezuela in a possible way and put pressure on us.
After the election and the rise in oil prices, we can expand our ties with our allies like Iran, esp. with our Iranian brothers with whom we share a great deal of common background. We see a bright future.
To develop the relations between the two countries, their officials must make innovative, creative decisions. There is no direct flight between Tehran and Caracas, for example, and that affects the comings and goings of the two countries’ businessmen. Is there such will among Venezuelan officials?
The direct flight line between Tehran and Caracas shall be activated soon. There are sessions with an airline in Venezuela in this regard, and I hope for it to work out within 6 months.