Pasqualina Curcio: “Imperialism Does Not Understand the Resistance of the Venezuelan People” (Interview)

April 18 (Orinoco Tribune) Each time the imperial economic attack intensifies against Venezuela, many glances are directed, by way of consultation, towards the economist Pascualina Curcio, one of the best analysts of the situation in the Caribbean country. Pascualina has been providing propositive guidelines on how to confront opponents who want to destroy Bolivarian Venezuela by attacking the currency, causing shortages and monitoring, as is happening today, through a criminal blockade.

We spoke with Pascualina Curcio a few days ago in Mexico, where she was a part of the Venezuelan delegation to the International Seminar of the PT of that country.

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What is your opinion regarding the development of the brutal economic war that the empire is waging against Venezuela?

In the first place, we must not ignore that there exists a complex situation in Venezuela economically, even politically, because of the offensive that is taking place, the important thing is to identify the causes that are behind this situation. We know that since 1999, when Chávez’s mandate began, Venezuela became an unusual and extraordinary threat, not because we have the newest weapons in the world, but because we confront imperialism and resolve to be independent and sovereign. Since that moment we have been attacked and the attack intensified since 2013. I reiterate, our dignity in standing up to the empire is the fundamental cause, not the only factor, but this is what is determining the situation in which Venezuelans are living. This situation of shortages of certain foods and medicines originates in processes seeking to alter the distribution of these goods, distribute them to informal markets, and sell them at an inflated price.

The inflation has also affected the Venezuelan population, particularly the salaried working class, at a time when their incomes are deteriorating. Our enemies point out that this is due to a supposedly failed socialist model, which is false. Inflation is being generated, induced, through criminal manipulation of the exchange rate, they have manipulated the 3.5 billion percent exchange rate since 2013 until the present. That is not to say that nothing has happened in the country from the economic point of view, but by no means in such proportion as to explain why our bolivar has depreciated in figures of this magnitude. It is altogether a political manipulation that alters prices of imported goods and production costs and generates hyperinflation.

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Moreover, the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States, and also other countries, are not only against the government, the economy in disguise, but against the Venezuelan people.

Even against those who oppose Maduro’s government…

Against all, and hyperinflation also affects the entire population. If we want to view it from the class perspective, it has reached a point where, in particular, small producers of non-essential goods are complaining about the entire situation because it involves a significant price increase.

Due to these coercive measures, we have estimated to date, about 21,000 million dollars lost, including theft, in an act of pillage of the subsidiary Citgo, approximately 7,000 million dollars in assets and 11,000 million dollars in lost commercial transactions.

Also $1.2 billion in gold was blocked in the Bank of England, $1.6 billion in Euroclick. Then there is, for instance, the cost of keeping vessels carrying food and medicine at sea longer than expected to prevent them from entering a Venezuelan port. This involves freight costs, cost of products lost, the cost of the dollar migrating when the SWIFT exchange system blocks our currency, the cost of debt or Republic bonds lost. All this adds up to 21,000 million dollars and added to it is that we estimated the economic setback caused by the attack on the currency. When they attack the currency they not only generate hyperinflation, but also reduce production. If the currency had not been attacked in recent years we would have produced oil at an average price, even with 22 dollars a barrel, an additional 51 billion dollars. And they have also been working inside the oil company not just with prices, but also with production through internal sabotage.

Everything, coercive measures, the attack on the currency, losses due to oil exports total 114,000 million dollars. For the sake of reference, Venezuela’s gross domestic product for last year is around $130 billion. It is equivalent to an entire year’s production basically, but also means that with $4 billion, or a little more, we import medicines and food for the entire population for one year. If one divides the 114 billion by the 4 billion, it would generate an import of medicines and food for 26 years. This shows the impact of that economic loss in terms of goods and population access.

Such is the situation, and the important thing is to find out which is the determining cause, without ignoring the fact that there are faults, errors, which one expects to see because in the transition to a socialist model there are no manuals, especially if you are being attacked and besieged, as has happened to all the countries that have decided to move towards that model.

From this point of view, at this very moment, what would be the urgent proposals that would have to be made to confront this war?

On the issue of commercial transactions with other countries concerning the financial blockade and the trade embargo, there have been, not only proposals, but important advances: the strengthening of alliances with China and Russia, not just any country, and also with India in the area of medicines, Iran and Turkey. This is strengthening trade relations for supply in the current situation, especially in the area of food and medicines, which is the most urgent issue, but also agreements for domestic production. With regard to the financial blockade, in order to circumvent it we have migrated to transactions with the yuan and even bilateral agreements which are barter, but which enable us to sell oil and receive other products.

Internally, on the issue of hyperinflation and the attack on the currency, there is a proposal that we have been presenting that has two aspects. One is to increase international reserves in order to strengthen the currency. Our income is mainly from oil, but we also have a way to increase international reserves, which few countries have, from gold, because Venezuela is now the second largest gold reserve country. Not coincidentally, this siege is part of this, and to buy gold, which is held in reserve, you do not have to pay dollars or euros because you have gold in reserve. This strengthens the currency and, at the very least, reduces the risk of attacks on the currency.

The other is to back the bolivar in gold. That is, for a specified amount of bolivars being backed by gold that is in the Central Bank measured in terms of amounts. If there are 100 bolivars circulating and there are 100 ounces of gold, each bolivar is equivalent to one ounce, in monetary terms, depending on the price of gold that the international markets set. Venezuela can do that, because, among other reasons, it has enough gold to support it; just 5% of what is in the vault supports all the bolivars that are circulating. In addition, this is part of what appears to be the new international monetary system that is advancing apparently with a gold backing. China created the petroyuan based on gold, Russia has been buying a lot of gold, it is also a producer, with the prospect of backing the ruble in gold, the BRICS countries are moving towards a currency backed in gold, South Africa is one of the largest gold producers. And so, it is within that framework, within a new system with gold that counterbalances the paper petrodollar.

Can the government put this in place in the short term?

The conditions are in place. The most important thing is to have gold, which benefits us.

What would be the obstacle for it not to be effective?

I don’t know if there will be any obstacles, I believe we will go there at some point, especially with the new monetary order.

I say this in function of the fact that we all know what the daily life of Venezuelans is at this moment, the heroism of that people is indisputable. But it is also clear that empire, internal opposition in Venezuela are gambling on attrition, with the latest electrical attacks they are gambling on an uprising, which is not happening. But neither should we expect everyone to endure life like this.

There is no doubt that quick answers must be given. But this is like a chess board, the government moves a piece and they also have a response. For example, when the CLAP were created the production levels of the companies were always maintained, but when the government told them that since they were altering the distribution of food they were going to buy it and they had to give them 50% of their production, they knocked down production. But there is no doubt that at this juncture urgent responses must be given.

The resistance of the Venezuelan people is something that imperialism does not understand, which is why they are desperate, after six years they have applied all available methods to overthrow democratic governments, now they are in the last chapters of every manual. There are a number of elements, in addition to the patriotic consciousness, there is the civic-military union, which imperialism does not comprehend, a legacy of Comandante Chávez. There are many factors that do not appear to be included in the manuals, but there is no doubt they are trying to exhaust us and we must ensure that the situation is stabilized.

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Cuba Calls on the World to Stop US Aggressiveness

Havana, Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Government called on the international community and US citizens to stop the escalation of aggressions by the White House, which is betting on tightening the economic blockade of the Caribbean island.

On Wednesday night, in a statement from the Revolutionary Government, Cuba described the Donald Trump Government’s hostile policy as irrational, and recalled its isolation regarding the blockade it has imposed on Havana for nearly six decades.

‘The member States of the United Nations, with all reason year after year, demand almost unanimously an end to that economic warfare,’ the Government said in response to Washington’s new measures to make Cuba yield.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a law approved in 1996 to seek a regime change in Cuba using economic asphyxiation as a spearhead.

That title allows filing lawsuits in US courts on properties nationalized by the Cuban revolutionary government, in an effort to stop access to foreign investment, by accusing partners of ‘trafficking’ with ‘confiscated’ assets.

For its part, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced additional measures to weaken Cuba by reducing the remittances sent by Cuban residents in the United States to their relatives.

Bolton also announced more travel restrictions to US citizens, who are banned from traveling to Cuba as tourists.

The Cuban Government condemned Washington’s growing hostility and predicted its failure.

In addition to urging the world to stop the White House’s aggressiveness, Cuba particularly called on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to keep the region as a peace zone for the benefit of all.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration also stepped up its pressure on Venezuela and Nicaragua, where it also plans to impose regime changes.

Cuba noted that this stance is part of the imperial appetite resulting from the implementation of the Monroe Doctrine for regional domination.

In light of the new measures, President Miguel Diaz-Canel responded that Cuba will neither surrender not will accept laws to rule its destiny.

‘In Cuba, we Cubans rule. Cuba is confident in its forces and in our dignity,’ the president noted on his Twitter account.

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Maduro: Venezuela to Overcome Sanctions Against Central Bank

The Central Bank of Venezuela will face new unilateral and coercive sanctions from the United States.
The Central Bank of Venezuela will face new unilateral and coercive sanctions from the United States. | Photo: Reuters

The president rejected the new aggression from the U.S. Government which attacks the rights of Venezuelans.

April 18 (teleSUR) President Nicolas Maduro rejected on Wednesday another set of illegal sanctions announced by White House advisor, John Bolton, against the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV).

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“The Central Bank of Venezuela will face and overcome with the law and with dignity the sanctions that the U.S. seeks to impose on our monetary institution,” the president said while carrying out an inspection of a food packaging center for CLAP, located in Fuerte Tiuna, Caracas (capital).

He also stressed that “in the face of the imperialist aggressions against Venezuela, it is up to us to work and do more work, love and give more love to build a homeland. Venezuela will win!”

John Bolton announced on Wednesday from Miami, new unilateral and coercive sanctions against the Central Bank of Venezuela and the Corporate Bank of Nicaragua.

Also this Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry of Venezuela rejected in a statement the measures against the Central Bank for being arbitrary, illegal and unilateral.

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Mexico, China Vow to Protect Firms Against US Sanctions on Cuba

A Cuban flag hangs outside a hotel in Havana, Cuba, April 20, 2018.
A Cuban flag hangs outside a hotel in Havana, Cuba, April 20, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Mexico will “protect Mexican companies that do or have an interest in doing business with Cuba, and that could be affected,” the government said.

April 18 (teleSUR) Several nations in the world have come out against the Trump administration’s unilateral decision to allow the complete application of the controversial Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, opening the doors to a flood of lawsuits over alleged confiscation of property by the Cuban state.

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Mexico deplored on Wednesday the decision of the United States to apply Title III of the Helms-Burton Act and assured that it would protect the companies of the country that do business or have an interest in doing so on the Island. “As it has done historically, Mexico rejects the application of unilateral trade laws with extraterritorial character, because they violate the rules of international law,” said the Ministry of foreign affairs of Mexico.

The government affirmed that “it will protect Mexican companies that do or have an interest in doing business with Cuba and that could be affected.”

Beijing condemned the U.S. sanctions against Havana. “China always opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions outside the framework the United Nations Security Council. The US blockade has already caused great damage to the economic and social development of Cuba and has disrupted the lives of its people,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press conference.

Meanwhile, Moscow immediately reacted to the U.S decision and rejected the reactivation of the Title III Helms-Burton Act as well as the new wave of U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Serguei Riabkov said the U.S. decisions were “totally unacceptable.”

“Venezuela and Cuba are our allies in this region; they are our strategic partners; we will do everything that depends on us to receive our support,” he continued. 

Also, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Maria Zajarova said during a weekly press conference that Moscow was “against any unilateral sanction.”

“Sanctions are only possible if they are prepared within the framework of international institutions, such as the U.N., based on international law, collectively,” she declared.

The president of the Association of Spanish Entrepreneurs in Cuba (AEEC), Xulio Fontecha, urged the European Union (EU) to apply “reciprocity” and punish the U.S. companies that use European companies for profiting from their old properties on the island.

The European Union (EU) and Canada issued a joint warning against the United States Wednesday after Washington reported that it would enforce Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Act.

“The EU and Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to international law,” the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement that was also signed by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

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Venezuela Urges International Conference against US Aggressions

Caracas, Apr 17 (Prensa Latina) Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Samuel Moncada, called on countries victim of U.S. coercive measures to a denunciation conference, local media reported Wednesday.

The diplomat, in an interview with the multinational channel Telesur, called for a great international meeting to discuss and develop strategies to counteract these actions.

According to the Venezuelan representative, more than 40 countries in the world face all kinds of unilateral sanctions which could be called ‘crimes of economic aggressions’.

The world must understand these kinds of wars can be fought successfully, but it needs the help of the international community.

United we can defeat those arbitrary abuses of the United States,’ the diplomat said.

Washington has a steady campaign of aggression against the South American country through economic sanctions against state officials, trying to discredit the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The diplomat insisted these actions foster ‘a coup d’etat along with the Venezuelan extreme right and with the support of the Government of Colombia and other complacent states’.

We should create a great international conference to combat this type of financial aggression on a global scale, which is a new weapon,’ Moncada said.

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Cuba’s President Welcomes Congo’s Foreign Minister

Havana, April 16 (Prensa Latina) President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, welcomed this Tuesday in Havana the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, Jean-Claude Gakosso, who is making a working visit to the country.

Diaz-Canel and Gakosso exchanged views on the positive state of bilateral relations and agreed to continue developing them, an official statement said.

The Cuban Head of State and the Congolese diplomat also discussed various issues on the international agenda, the statement stresses, pointing out that the African Foreign Minister gave the Cuban President a message from Congolese President Dennis Sassou Ngueso.

The visitor was accompanied by the Minister of Higher Education, Bruno Jean Richard Itoua and the Ambassador, Rosalie Kama-Niamayoua.

On the Cuban side, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, and the Director General of Bilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emilio Lozada, attended.

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Red Cross Medical Aid Lands in Venezuela After Deal with Gov’t

The aid will be distributed to different facilities operated by the Red Cross and by the Venezuela public health system.
The aid will be distributed to different facilities operated by the Red Cross and by the Venezuela public health system. | Photo: Venezuelan health ministry

The supplies were received by Health Minister Carlos Alvarado at “Simon Bolivar”​​​​​ International Airport, in the state of Vargas.

April 17 (teleSUR) At least 24 tons of medical supplies arrived in Venezuela Tuesday as part of the first humanitarian technical shipment from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Associations.

The supplies were received by the Minister of Health Carlos Alvarado at the International Airport of Maiquetia “Simon Bolivar,” located in the state of Vargas.

The Venezuelan minister said: “this aid contains 14 power plants with 14 transformers, as well as material for the workers of the Venezuelan Red Cross.”

He also asserted that medical products will be distributed to the eight hospitals and more than 30 clinics that the Red Cross operates across Venezuela.

Meanwhile the rest of the supplies will go to various institutions that are part of public health system in deliveries coordinated by the Red Cross and Ministry of Health.

Last week President Nicolas Maduro said the Venezuelan government was negotiating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding the necessary parameters to receive humanitarian technical assistance in all sectors to guarantee the welfare of the people.

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Helms-Burton Act Title III Attacks International Law, Cuban FM Says

Havana, Apr 17 (Prensa Latina) Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, has accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of attacking international law and sovereignty by activating Title III of the Helms-

Burton Act, an initiative aimed at changing Cuba’s regime.
Shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Twitter Washington’s decision to allow claims in U.S. courts over ‘confiscated’ property (as they call nationalizations done in the wake of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution), Rodriguez expressed his strong rejection in social media.

‘This is an attack on Cuban and other States’ sovereignty, considering the extraterritorial character of Title III, aimed at depriving Cuba of foreign investments, threatening current and potential partners,’ he underscored.

‘US escalating aggressiveness against Cuba will fail. As in Bay of Pigs, we will overcome,’ he wrote regarding the celebration these days (April 19) of the first great defeat of US imperialism in Latin America, after the defeat in the 1961 over a US-led mercenary invasion through Bay of Pigs, south central Cuba.

To harden the blockade on the island, Pompeo alleged Cuba had not moved toward democracy and had ‘exported oppression to Venezuela.’ 

The Director General of the US Office in the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, said the decision announced on Wednesday is another attempt to hit the Cuban economy, which has been the target of fierce economic war for almost 60 years.

While this measure demonstrates Washington’s ability to cause harm, it shows above all its failure to bend the will of Cubans to defend their sovereignty, he added.

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Cuba Decision Will Isolate U.S. From Allies, Congressman Says

Washington, April 17 (Prensa Latina) The president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, considered this Wednesday that the recent decision of Donald Trump’s administration on Cuba will isolate Washington from its allies.

Through a press release, the New York Democrat legislator referred to the announcement made Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that as of May 2 the United States will fully apply Title III of the Helms-Burton Act against the island.

Through this legislative section, U.S. nationals will have the possibility of taking to courts people and companies, including those from third countries, who invest in Cuban territory in properties nationalized after the triumph of the Revolution, on January 1, 1959.

Given the damages that part of the law approved in 1996 would imply, not only for Cuba, but also for the United States and allies of this nation such as the European Union (EU) and Canada, Trump’s predecessors since William Clinton (1993-2001) prevented its implementation.

In recent days the community bloc reiterated its call to Washington to continue the suspension of Title III and warned that it could take action to reject the measure, but the Republican’s executive went ahead with its application. In Engel’s words, ‘President Trump’s rejection of more than two decades of bipartisan consensus on a key piece of U.S. policy toward Cuba’ will further isolate the country from ‘our Latin American and European allies.

According to the member of the Lower House, the measure is contrary even to the objectives set by Washington of wanting to promote ‘democracy in Cuba and Venezuela’, and will do nothing ‘to resolve the claims of U.S. property in Cuba’.

He added that Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush (2001-2009) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) resigned from Title III for so long ‘because they rightly concluded that it would harm U.S. interests, U.S. business and the Cuban people.

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Trump’s Neocon Administration Want War in Venezuela: Gabbard

(L) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) (R) U.S. President Donald Trump
(L) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) (R) U.S. President Donald Trump | Photo: Reutes

“This administration and the neocon war hawks that surround President Trump have made no secret about what their intentions are to further this regime change effort both in Venezuela as well as in Iran. So we are hearing these war drums beating.”

April 17 (teleSUR) U.S. congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii sat down for an interview with MSNBC Tuesday to discuss her campaign for the presidency and her views on a number of topics, including the potential military intervention in Venezuela.

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Gabbard told the Hardball host Chris Matthews that U.S. President Donald Trump is surrounded by “neocon war hawks” that want war with Venezuela, despite the catastrophic effects that it would have on South America. 

“This administration and the neocon war hawks that surround President Trump have made no secret about what their intentions are to further this regime change effort both in Venezuela as well as in Iran. So we are hearing these war drums beating,” Gabbard said. “President Trump is acting not with our interest in mind, not with the American people’s interest in mind and moving forward with something that’ll prove to be very, very costly.”

The U.S. congresswoman pointed out that these neocons will cost America trillions of dollars, which will come from the pockets of taxpayers. 

“We do have a situation with a cabinet full of neocon war hawks whose history is very well-known in leading our country into one regime change war after the other and to great expense in American lives, to trillions of dollars coming out of our tax payer’s pockets as well as the lives and the suffering at the devastation of the people in the countries where we waged these wars,” she stated.

Gabbard’s comments came in response to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s claims that “all options are on the table” in Venezuela. 

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