EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Venezuelan Crisis: Destroying the Amazon and the Pemon People to Sustain the Maduro Regime
DATE: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm, 11th June 2019
VENUE: Committee Room 2A, House of Lords, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom
SPEAKERS: Ambassador Diego Arria, Kukuy
EVENT CHAIR: Baroness Falkner of Margravine
Baroness: If you can just make your way past the room. Thank you. and they’re making it a little bit more space here. Now, I’m also conscious that we’ve lost a few minutes to people settling down to the new room. Let me, let me, introduce you to our most distinguished guests here today. On my left is Ambassador Diego Arria, who is a Venezuelan diplomat and politician with a great deal of experience with international diplomacy at the UN, in the rest of the world, and as well of course in Valenzuela. He was then representative for Venezuela to the UN, he was president of the UN security council, he was the founding editor of the el Diario de Caracas, the governor of Caracas, Congressman, Minister of Information and tourism, as well as, special adviser to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Ambassador Arria has also served on the international crisis group, the council of foreign relations in New York and a visiting scholar at Colombia University, he’s on the board of the museum of art and design in New York, and the advisory board at the school of International service at the American University, in Washington DC. Kukuy, on my left, is a Venezuelan, from the Pemon tribe in the Amazon. He’s studying security management in Finland.
Kukuy: That’s right.
Baroness: And speaks several languages, he has a long professional background in tourism, starting as a local tour guide in his town, and becoming a specialized tour leader of Venezuela. He knows more about the environment than most of us would know. We are delighted to have you here.
Kukuy: Thank you. Thank you.
Baroness: Ambassador would you like to kick off? (Loud Clapping) Oh sorry, Kukuy we’d like you to speak first. I’m sorry I didn’t know that. Would you like to kick off? Perhaps 5-7 minutes, and then later on we can pick up on the themes you touched on in the questions.
Kukuy: Alright. Akueda (spelling not correct).
Kukuy: That is still, that is the way the Pemon people say, ‘how are you?’ I will repeat it for you, Akueda. Having said that, it is an honor for me to be here, to represent the Pemon indigenous people in Venezuela. I am here to speak up on their behalf, as they can’t do it by themselves. So I will start by bringing the assessed of the 8th December. It was a massacre in a gold mining area, by the name Campo Carao (spelling not correct), in the area of Canaima National Park. And, I am a witness of second hand, as my friend, Elliera, send me, told me the story, he actually sent me two stories, and I decided I will tell the rest of the world the second one. He told me that, with false pretences, a group of tourists, took them to the end of the falls, and half way, they kidnapped them, tied them up, and they were nearly shot dead. One of the members of the military, pretending to be a tourist, told the others that was not part of the mission, but, as that was an obstacle that was rapid to get to the place that they were supposed to arrive, who are the actual thing that was going on. They have to tie them up, but they let only the boat drivers to take them there, and they witness everything. They saw how the military, even without warning, they start to shoot the people there. and, my brothers, the Pemon, didn’t have any other choice than to fight back, and in the fight, two of them were wounded, very seriously and one of them died in the hospital, hours later. And two more were wounded. this is because the gold mining activity is increasing in that area, thanks to the wrong choices of the Maduro regime, regarding economy. So this population has been working in the treason business for years, including myself, they are now a force, to go to the gold mines as the the plane ticket, you have to pay in gold. And all the food, clothing, everything has to be paid in gold or dollars, and the only way to get the is there, at the gold mine. The second event I would like to bring up, is the next year, on the 23rd February. That was this year, the Cumara Capai (spelling not correct) village, most of the members decided to stop the military coming to stop the humanitarian aid coming from Brazil, through Santelena (Spelling not correct) all the way down to the Gran Sabana. And they just, they started shooting, as the Pemon didn’t want to let them pass through to Santelena, and they killed two persons right at the place, and some others died later because they were wounded seriously. And other non Pemon people were shot, and you can even find videos of the shooting and the killing and the massacre that happened there, so I am here to tell you that. And what happened in Canaima, specifically talking, it was because there was a strong pressure, by organisations, like sos orinoco, who there were denouncing this as the government are trying to masquerade everything, they decided to send a commission there, and to let’s say, make believe the world that they were doing something, but it was not. The real target there was to take control of the gold mining areas and its happening in other places, like Icoraro (Spelling not correct), and other indigenous villages. So the fact is, there are forces, related to the government, armed forces. They are taking control of the area, they are forcing the indigenous people to do the dirty job, to get the gold for them, because that’s what they want, the natural resources. In the process, the environment is being destroyed. they are destroying jungle, they are destroying rivers, they are creating sand banks where they were not, that is affecting the rest of the area, not only there, without counting, they are poising the waters with mercury, quicksilver. You know what affect that has on the villages that live downstream, and they drink the water right from the sources. So, having said that I would like to add that it goes further than that. Do you remember the Orinoco river flooding, that could be part of it, but I say I’m almost sure that its part of it you remember, the rainiest over here, it’s not normal right? Well the actions down there affecting also here. Did you read that it was snowing in Lapland today? And its summer for god sake. So, this is affecting the world, this is not only Pemon problem, this is the world’s problem. So, I am here to bring this message to create awareness, I want the rest of the world to know what is happening there, and there are people that they are struggling by themselves trying to fight this, because they don’t agree with whatever is happening down there. But, we are alone, so we need stronger partners, like strong, a organisations, like governments, NGOs, and individuals who take initiative to help us on this fight. So that what I came to say. there is one thing that I must point out, that a sos orinoco, a made it required that the Canaima national park that is the world heritage, that is named by the UNESCO, that is not only the native land, it belongs to every one of us here. It was required to be put in the endangered list, so more actions can be taken. So, please think about this, spread the world and join the fight, because it’s not only Pemon or the Venezuelan problem, it is everybody’s problem.
Baroness: Ambassador over to you.
Ambassador: Thank you. I am actually here, I came to support Kukuy, because he is a representative of a part of a population that has been forgotten by all but themselves for too many years. And they are now victims of a very cruel regime, together, will be mafias, criminal groups, that control my country. I will not forget the environment to this and never have any doubts. And I knew about Kukuy thanks to our friends on the sos orinoco, that I admire greatly as it has influenced me a lot to be here. I should say the answer is very easy for me to talk about my country, on many occasion. Imagine I was at one time the Minister of Tourism in Venezuela, or the Minister of Information, or Governor of Caracas. And then we ran nations, we were defending people whose rights were being trampled, by the head of democracy. So they wouldn’t allow us to speak, it was so happy, that has ended. Every time that I think that now every time the Maduro group is to ask something from them to help us, is really, very painful. When we for so many years were really committed to help the best causes of humanity. 12:42 You know listen again to Kukuy, you can imagine the devastation, of a very important area of our country. That is a specific area, and believe me its even bigger than Portugal, so you can have an idea. And there are no rallies there, just a group of criminals together with the military, sometimes I think its a pity we don’t have a King James there to put an end to their existence. I must say I want you to know why I’m also so close to the issue, when I was head of Tourism for Venezuela one of the members of my team, convinced me that we were the greatest threat to the environment of Venezuela. I said ‘why?’, he said ‘because we have been so successful bringing people into the country, that if we don’t put some guidelines, it may destroy the environment’ and he convinced me and we never shared with the United States Parks Department, and that’s how the Cari Minaha (Spelling not correct) plant was born, it was born to give guidelines to development, preservation, and actually two reasons where you would merge. So that was the first one, so now when you hear this plight of our people in the region, I have to ask myself, who cares? does the international community have interest? Is it in another nations interest? Is it a UNESCO interest? They are partial informed, but not really committed to real exercise to helping, to cure. But of course, there is only one cure for this, the cure is expelling the Venezuelan regime. while the Venezuelan regime is in throne, the environment will be worse and you can imagine the conditions for our own people are really horrendous. I made some noise when I was listening to Kukuy, and I want to give you an example that probably summaries, the human climate that the people of Venezuela live in, and I’m gonna read to you literally one paragraph, of the Narco Head of the Venezuelan regime, Nicolás Maduro. He said the following ‘We leave a try historical process where children with terminal diseases, must be sacrificed to save the revolution, they will be remembered in history as true hero and patriots.’ If this is not a take from the nastiness and so forth. This is the most abominable, horrendous statement by anywhere, anyplace, anywhere that probably summaries my view. The inhumane system that we have in Venezuela. a country that morphed into an anarchic state. You know Pablo Escobar, was never President of Columbia, El chapo was mad, was never President of Mexico, but in Venezuela, the counterparts are the President, Vice-President, President of the Supreme Court. So actually we have these dogs, these criminals, and people still ask us to never share with the government, well we don’t have a government, we have criminal gangs, that have (in audible) our own country. And what can we do? When you see the devastation of a region, when you see the inhumane tragedy in my country, what do we hear? The European community for example, recently reminded me of this great film, call The Darkest Hour, when Lord Halifax, tells Prime Minister Churchill to allow him to allow the Italian, Mussolini to negotiate with Hitler, the best terms of the rendition of Great Britain, to which Churchill saved the world by not obeying them. Well, now we have another Italian, the Foreign Minister of the European community Ms Mogherini, asking to use the European Community to mediate with the Narco regime. I ask you, is this the way we should take in and accept it? I repeat, the anti-Trump feelings in Europe and many places, (inaudible) I don’t care if they like him or do not like him, but in this case, there is no president of the United States has committed more to help us than President Trump. but this is beginning to dominate European politics like if helping helping Venezuela would be helping Trump, and that’s really hurting us. The Europe of Maastricht watch for several years how the Muslim people in Bosnia were slaughtered, tortured, persecuted and finally killed. I sat at in a table more or less like this when I was on the security council, calling attention of the world to what is really happening. While the main European countries that said, never again I’m two hours from London, three hours away from Paris, they allow the slaughter of a country in the case of Bosnia. So I ask myself many times, who has so much moral authority and political power in the world, to tell us that we should stop, to any kind of crimes that are intended against our people, who has that moral power, to tell the world, that for example the Venezuelans, they don’t need any extreme use forces, but the Venezuelans need a seat at the table, maybe we should peacefully, with Narco criminals while we look at this and wait, and that of course, there is no answer to that. 19:12 I remember the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, at the time, Minister (in audible) this is the hour of Europe, and the hour of Europe was the destruction of a country, which was Bosnia. I hope we can find a better hour for our case, and what I see, someone like Miguel that belongs to the minority of the country coming to the finer country in London, in the British Parliament this is a sign that encourages me greatly.
Baroness: Thank you very much ambassador for that stirring talk, it’s very depressing to hear what you described about the EU. And before we turn to the floor for questions, could I ask you a very direct question? What about Spain, because the way foreign policy is conducted in the EU, is that a country that has a particular historical connection with another country leads the discussion, and what reaction are you finding from Spain? I’ve come back from Barcelona only yesterday., I wish I had thought of this, but anyway.
Ambassador: I am very happy that you asked me that, because Spain played for many years a leading role in helping to shape European policy towards Latin America in general.
Baroness: Yeah. Indeed.
Ambassador: Wen they had a change in the political direction, that also was altered, and we are suffering the consequences of that. Because I believe that Spain have played, in this case, from a mental role in asking precisely that we should sit, have a lot of patience, while Venezuelans are decimated, while the environment is destroyed, and while we have a (in audible) now, 4 million people, out of which 1.1 million are children. children, and about 3 million of our children are (in audible) and Maduro of the terminal disease, because last week, 10 days ago, 6 kids die because they couldn’t fly a transfer bone marrow transplant, and there are 26 more children waiting for the same fate, and how many more are there in the country? So, in Spain, has actually influenced the attitude the European community have towards Venezuela at this very moment.
Baroness: I’m slightly surprised, because the Sanchez regime is a left of centre regime, its a social democrat regime, its not partido popular (translation= Popular / populist party) that would be a different approach toward Maduro. Im a taken back, but anyway.
Ambassador: The Partido Popular was very effective for us.
Baroness: Ah right. We’ve got several questions. I wonder if you could name yourself or give any affiliation if you have. Why don’t you start Sir?
John Dobson (Audience Question): Yes indeed, yes. thank you very much, my name is John Dobson, I’m from the Indian newspaper, The Sunday Guardian, there is some ambiguity about the influence and support from Russia in Venezuela at the moment, I wonder if you could give us your view of what is happening from Russia into Venezuela.
Ambassador: You know basically, I believe the Russians couldn’t care less for the Venezuelans, they care for what they can get out of our mineral resources, and on top of that to find a niche to bother the Americans in their own backyard. That’s a very small capsule, because we can’t get into it. And to sell us armaments, and to take our oil at any price, convenient. And, I am very happy that that happens, because it probably the only card that irritates America more, is to know that the Russians are getting involved in their back yard.
John Dobson: Are there any troops, Russian troops in Venezuela?
Ambassador: No, there are no troops. They say they have about 100 people in (in audible), they have sold us planes, tanks, etc. and they say that they are maintenance, I believe that that is really the case. Plus, people in the Intelligence circles are hacking, and all those things that have become very popular lately. all the hacking with the Russians.
John Dobson: Okay, thank you.
Anonymous 1 (Audience Question): Yeah, I’d say Chavez gave the opportunity gave the opportunity to the Russians, and the Russians screwed up, and they didn’t put foreign aid in, they gave 2 old destroyers if you remember rightly. I was going to say, I was in Cuba 2 weeks ago and what’s rather interesting, among the more educated class, there is a growing awareness despite the lack of social media, that Meduro is basically on the way out, they’re in default on payments for security and for health, the value of the oil, which pays for the people, has come off quite a lot. So in term of forces for change, I think that’s a very important one, it’s not Russia. And for the future, I think its China, and what’s very interesting there, as Kukuy was pointing out, is in Bolivia state, there is no security whatsoever, and the Chinese are no prepared to invest, to take on the crystal ex projects, unless they can have a team on the ground, and the Venezuelans have not been able to offer them the security of travel in the region. Consequently, you’ve still got the garimpeiros coming over from Brazil, and in the region, taking the gold, and then just going to the mafia, as you say. But, it is very difficult for the army to move in that state, because the army is under so much pressure protecting the main regions, and I’m looking for the forces for change, and I’m wondering is it going to be China? Is it going to be US? I don’t believe it’s going to be Russia, I don’t believe it’s going to be Cuba.
Ambassador: No will be the Chinese. No will be the Chinese.
Baroness: Have you got anything more to add to that?
Ambassador: I believe he answered himself on it. I was agreeing with him, I was.
Baroness: Okay I’m going to take a few more questions, but I am concerned in terms of emergencies, with that many people at that door, could some people come on this side? And there is an empty chair here please. Why don’t Sir come and take this chair, so that we can clear a passageway a little bit if we have to evacuate quickly. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’d like to take the lady over there, if you would just say who you are as well, and the gentleman standing up in the corner, then I’ll come to you Sir.
Anonymous 2 (Audience Question): I’m just concerned why the global environmentalists…
Ambassador: Can you speak louder please
Anonymous 2: …I’m just concerned why the global environmentalists are siding on the mining crisis, bring peace, WWF, and the Canada mine walk, why they haven’t made any public statement about the crisis? Its a really serious crisis, I mean its affected population, environment and its a criminal gang that is taking over all this area, why?
Kukuy: Oh, it is because, there is no law, there is the law of the strongers, especially in the South, so the places are taken by army gangs, and any organisation that goes there without any weapon, has no chance. Indigenous people created an army approximately 800 man, I mean, man, women, young people, everybody included, and they are called the Aridoka (Spelling not correct) that is the 3 different Pemon groups, and they made an army to defend the areas from all these people, that has been public denounced that is the ELN from Columbia. The terrorist group like they call it (speaker unsure of grammar), there is group that goes and takes control of the mines, and they don’t let anyone to get access there, unless they have the blessing of the Maduro regime, no organisation can get through that. Hopefully I answered your question.
Ambassador: You know the sos orinoco has been extremely courageous in bringing this issue to the floor, and there is a Venezuelan Congressman, who is now in an asylum at the Italian Embassy. (In audible) who has followed this for many years very courageously and he has been very insistent but I believe that (in audible) its absolutely correct. And we need the help of groups and the media to call that more to attention, that is the reason that Kukuy is here today, that is the reason I’m supporting him, supporting his case.
Baroness: Thank you. Please, go ahead.
Euan Grant (Audience Question): Thank you all very much, the names Ewan Grant, I’m a former UK law enforcement intelligence analyst, covering transnational crime. I worked with security and intelligence agencies, so I know that the links between Russia and the Maduro regime are wide and deep. my first question is for the ambassador, do you think that Maduro and company are particularly worried is Carvajal sings to the Spanish or the Americans. Secondly, for both of you, and it follows on from what other speakers have suggested, is there any indication that major media in the UK and Europe particularly Spain and Germany, are taking on board how everything is connected and going to look together with the anti-corruption and environmental advocacy groups, who frankly need a stab in the back to start joining. I worked for several years in Bosnia, when Mr Annan was Secretary General and I went to (in audible) and I know perfectly well that the ambassador’s comments are not cynicism, they are the truth. Thank you.
Ambassador: Thanks so much.
Kukuy: Thank you.
Baroness: Thank you, there wasn’t a question there, so why don’t we go to.
Euan Grant: Yes, there was. Yes, there was several questions.
Baroness: Do you have an answer for whether the media are picking up the links?
Ambassador: You know it’s different to speculate, I have some ideas, but I couldn’t come out and say ‘yes’, definitely, but I understand perfectly well what you’re saying, and I thank you for (in audible).
Kukuy: About them specifically, I don’t have an idea, but I can say 100% that most of the information coming from Venezuela, that is the source, especially the native area. The regime controls the media. they turn the phone systems, lines they turn off, the internet they can’t communicate, I take a step further, I knew about this special operation a day before, from an anonymous source, but I tried to warn the people, but it was not possible because there was not communication, and when I reach, it was too late.
Baroness: Thank you. I’m going to take more than one question now, I’m ready to take them in groups. So you…
Richard Semitego (Audience Question): My name is Richard Semitego (in audible) Director for Africa House London, we promote trade between the UK and Africa. My question is about Uganda. I understand Maduro’s regime, he’s smuggling gold from Venezuela to Uganda, where Russia is picking up. Is that true, do you have any evidence about it?
Richard Smitego: But is it true?
Baroness: We need you to find out
Ambassador: I do not like too much to speculate, especially in public.
Euan Grant: I’m seeing a published writer tomorrow, who’s got contacts that could shed an awful lot of light, that is a hugely significant point that the gentleman has made, enormously so.
Baroness: Thank you, go ahead.
Anonymous 1: Can I add to that Ewan. I meant…
Baroness: I’m wondering if you could have a bilateral, I’m chairing, you don’t have to have this conversation. I’m calling the gentleman who’s supposed to speak, and then the lady there.
Speaker on behalf of Francisco (Audience Question): I am going to speak for Francisco because it is easier and so he sent me what he wants to say. He’s deaf-mute and he wants to denounce what is happening as well, and be very brief here, but it is heart rendering, and we know their stories, it is incredible what the government is doing. He the representative of the disabled Venezuelan community in exile, and he is denouncing the regime, because they keep on using deaf people to joining the gangs that are killing civilians, the collectivos, I don’t know if you have heard, but these are people that help the killers and (in audible) and they release them with arms and they are forcing the disabled people to join because they are vulnerable, and they are being killed at a very high rate. Also, they are forcing them in the military. and as Francisco says, there is no other military or any other government where they recruit people who are mute or blind, they do this on purpose because they use them as (in audible) meat, he was jailed, he was persecuted, that why he’s also here, (in audible). This is against any agreement, worldwide, and then on top of this, there is the Exodus, not only of the disabled, we know that 4 million, so far, we don’t have a big population. We are actually, we have a lot of land, we don’t that many people, 4 million people have left, (in audible) in poverty. So, also, he’s saying in his community, is a reflection of the wider community, the incidence of suicide, is becoming the number 1 in the world, I don’t know exactly ow accurate this is, but I know from first hadn’t that it is really a very tragic, and he says from every 10 disabled, 8 are in exile, begging, prostituting themselves and there is even names for them in the prostitutes, there is a particular name being used because it became so common, it’s not polite. He says it’s just like (in audible) this is how he feels, this is how I felt, when I heard a (in audible) conversation back in February that was on WhatsApp, that’s what encourages to do this, because it is almost like he Nazi, or in a different, obviously we cannot compare, (in audible) anyway I think I will thank you.
Francisco: Thanking you.
Baroness: Thank you so much. It’s really useful to hear from you, we appreciate you taking the time to tell us what’s going on. Can I come to the lady there? Yes.
Sarah (Audience Question): Hi, my names Sarah I’m from Survival International which is the global movement of the tribal peoples, and I just wanted to quickly mention first that there have been some international public statements about what’s going on in Venezuela, including by Survival, we’ve done several news items about this, and been in touch with the international media, and lots of action by supporters, and thing on social media as well, because this is a critical situation, and we fight alongside tribal peoples, including indigenous peoples in Venezuela to help them defend their lands, so it’s really good to hear from Kukuy today. My question is, because of course we know that indigenous peoples the Pemon, and other indigenous peoples across Venezuela, your best places to look after your lands better than anybody else. And we also know that Venezuela law and international aw say that you have the right, the exclusive law to live on those lands, so my question is what are your main demands to the Venezuelan government and to the international community.
Kukuy: There has been a long time standing requisition from the Pemon people to have the right to the land where they have been living. I personally participated when I was a child to clean up the areas where we were marking out territory limits, and this has been done during years and we haven’t yet had it yet, legally on paper, that how things are nowadays, only by word that it is ours, and everybody recognizes that. But, lately talking, if the government wants to take us away from there, because they want to create as they are doing now a huge mining company, they need the gold and the diamonds down there, or a dam for instance. They can move the people, us, with the people in (in audible), the population of (inaudible) area. So, a, what would be my request to the Venezuelan government and the rest of the word would be, please help us. First, stop all this environmental damage, and please then help us to recover, because we will need man power, the know how to go recover all the destroyed areas, and myself in front of you. I promise I am the first one to go there to do myself this work, but I need help, and if we have the right to do things in our own land, without waiting for a President or Government or Mayor to give us permission to do any changes then we need that right.
Baroness: I was wondering whether I could ask you whether you have approached the UN? and what is the UN’s response, because particularly tribal people, that an area where the UN gives a lot of lectures, and says a defence (inaudible), so have you indigenous people that what if there’s any place to go, it’s the UN, do you get no support from them?
Kukuy: Not directly, not now, and our goal is, this is one step, our next step will be probably there, we are heading in that direction.
Baroness: Okay. Gentleman there.
Anonymous 3 (Audience Question): (inaudible) it is important that we are working together because everything is about money, they are going to destroy peoples over money, that the reality. (inaudible) so we have to work together to stop these (inaudible) Please don’t talk too much, because people, it’s easy to talk, it’s important to help me here with brother, but not just cheap talk, after we go to get coffee (inaudible). Here is very important, we have to give you the support to my brother for listening here. Second point, I think it’s important that we working together, all the (inaudible) people in South America, we go you know (inaudible), we’ve got different people, we have to join it together. Because we know what’s happening in Venezuela, long time, but it’s important that we are working together and the elephant in the room, what happened with Tory party, what happened with Labour party, why are they not here? they have to support this man here, what is the government doing to support the Amazon? Nothing. they’re silent all the time, so it’s important that we supporting my brother here, but in reality, not just cheap talk please, so my question to you brother, can we working together in the Amazon, all the indigenous people there, we have to join together, to stop this Venezuelan regime, we know they only care about money, please working together brother.
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: May I say something related to what he said.
Baroness: Okay I’ve got somebody else, who wants to come in. Is it related on that point?
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: On that note, I wonder if there is, or maybe there is some MPs, or lots of supporters, I wonder if we can start an APPG to protect the Amazon, because it is protecting us, it’s going to protect all other descendants, this is important for everybody. We got this time because everybody is part of this, Liberal, Tory, everybody joined to do this, so maybe Baroness, I’m not sure if it’s on you or maybe it’s on MPs…
Baroness: No its not me.
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: …to, (inaudible) thank you very much, you were the saviour of the day, but this is a very very good point, and maybe we should move this forward to an APPG to save the Amazon for the whole world.
Baroness: I’m looking at the Henry Jackson Society and that’s an idea you can take back to Alan Mendoza, where is Alan? There’s Alan
Dr Mendoza: I’m sure we can find an MP who’d be very keep or appear for this
Baroness: I’m very happy to join it, but I can’t (inaudible). Okay, lady over here.
Lorraine Zuleta: Baroness Faulkner, I’m Lorraine Zuleta, thank you very much for coming to our aid this afternoon.
Baroness: Not at all, it’s my pleasure. It’s a responsibility.
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: Thank you so much.
Lorraine Zuleta: It has been fantastic listening to Kukuy and telling his story first hand. Also, to Diego, to hear Diego, and talk to Diego and Diego knows very well what’s going on in the UN. (inaudible) you probably spend a lot of time hanging round the halls of the UN and there’s lots of talk that happens and there was in fact a report presented to the UN in April a report by John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Human rights watch, and they produced quite a lot of information on the state of affairs in Venezuela, I don’t think there was anything that I saw that was specific to the area of the Amazon, but it certainly referred to the situation of the malnutrition and the health calamity, that is going on in the country. The Secretary General after hearing the presentation of the report, tweeted that there were 7 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistant, we’re talking about more than 25% of the population on the ground and even being aware of this magnitude and calamity, that there is as you can’t describe anything else there is in Venezuela. there’s been no action that has taken place, I would like to ask Diego and Kukuy, what do you think are feasible options for resolving the situation that is there in Venezuela? I mean we know that there are all kinds of optimum options if they were feasible, but they’re not optimum because they’re not feasible. I mean given that we have what we have with the people at the helm in the UN and with the people that are in other international organisations, what do you think could be feasible to bring about some improvement in the situation, and what do you think any of s here or any organisations could do to help?
Ambassador: Well Lorraine you could not expect anything from the United Nations, especially the security council which is a strong armour to the institution, or you have the Russians or the Chinese blocking anything, even though they know exactly this report was presented at the security council, and they still are in denial of reality, negating that this is the reality even though they know the magnitude. As I said before this afternoon, if we don’t remove the regime, any measure you can take humanitarian, (inaudible), etc etc, would be marginal because actually the root problem, if you do not eradicate that you’ll never have a solution to these problems.
Lorraine Zuleta: And to remove them what does that take?
Ambassador: Well we cannot remove them without the use of force, and by force doesn’t mean shooting at people necessarily, force is in all in all the means that exist today technological, persuasion, etc. I can tell you I was on the council during the Iraqi war, and I hear a group of officers from the (inaudible) saying that they had the telephones, cell numbers, Saddam Hussein, (inaudible) and they would call him on the phone, what would happen to them, eventually, they participate in the war, the first 48 hours, more than 50% of the Iraqi officers actually quit the battle. So you know the meaning the offer they couldn’t refuse.
Lorraine Zuleta: But with all the drugs around in Venezuela, and I think that this is what is being (inaudible) by a lot of the military I think isn’t that a problem.
Ambassador: I’m sorry?
Lorraine Zuleta: The drugs, the drug trafficking
Ambassador: There is a problem, quite a problem. Actually they own the government.
Baroness: I think we’ve pretty much exhausted that topic, I’ve got 2 other questions. Yes, the gentleman in the front, why do you go first.
Anonymous 4 (Audience Question): Speaking in Spanish / inaudible
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: So, she’s asking, what she’s saying is that we need an intervention, and we need a human intervention, because people are dying, because there is no electricity to cook, no water to cook, no medicines, there is no food, and there is an exodus of people who have nothing also, so its decimating the population, it’s a true genocide, that’s what she’s saying.
Ambassador: She’s asking for an intervention.
Speaker on behalf of Francisco: and she is asking for an intervention, like (inaudible) there is no way out it seems. (inaudible)
Baroness: Yes, and then I’ll come to you.
Dan (Audience Question): Just to introduce myself, hi my name is Dan and I’m an intern for an MP, Royston Smith. My question actually ties into your point about intervention. Would the Venezuelan people respond well to a NATO style intervention with a coalition of Latin American countries, and the points you two made and seems to maybe support that narrative. we see this in Libya, where there wasn’t a transition process, the leaders were only thinking about that for the aftermath, and obviously that was a huge obstacle to it successful intervention and a successful transition process, would you support a NATO military intervention to oust Maduro and what would a transition plan to a peaceful, nourished Venezuelan population look like.
Ambassador: Well that’s not going to happen. But were it to happen, and the (inaudible) taken Venezuela more (inaudible) percent of people would agree with that I’ll tell you something more, president Trump, if he did, would become the most popular man in the country. I hope I answered your question.
Baroness: And he’s probably the most unpopular given his isolationist policies in the US, so with the election coming up, I don’t think we can be certain of that. I think you were referring to coalition of the willing, is that what, just Latin American countries coalition as there were.
Dan: Yes. And also the transition plan, how do you like just remove a government then peacefully set up a stable
Baroness: Yes go on.
Robert Riocca: Thank you my name is Robert Riocca, I’ve been fortunate to visit the Canaima region, my question relates to the question just asked, if there was a regime change tomorrow, realistically how quickly could the new regime do anything to help the situation.
Ambassador: You asking me?
Robert Riocca: Yes.
Baroness: Why don’t you have a go?
Kukuy: Yes, I was going to when this gentleman asked how things can be done, I was going to answer but it is completely related to it. Yes, there is the thing, that it will take some time, but, as I said people are forced to do the mining activity, now, against their will even, but there are others that are higher percent that don’t want to do the mining activities, they don’t want to do anything to do with that, so if we take these people to take actions if we provide and help them it will accelerate the process, and the change will come faster and one the regime change, the structure is already for it to risen in the street, the people, the professionals are already there, the manpower is there, it’s only time of organizing the platforms, they organize the airlines that brings the tourists in there there. The fuel going into the areas to move with the boats to the (inaudible) for instance, provide everything needed, tools. and then, once the tourism business start everybody will go back to the tourism industry, because I’m 100% sure that nobody wants to dive in a dark water like the Carrao river and be there for 6 hours during the night or during the day with the risk of getting drowned like some of my friends have already. So, all be worried in digging for gold, tourism is safer.
Baroness: Final words Ambassador?
Ambassador: I was gonna say that we have so many issues to confront that I would be lying if I tell you for answers and the first we’re gonna do is the Pemon, and no, because you know you have the big cities, where they have the real and (inaudible) stabilize the country and then you cannot say because we have Kukuy here today, that there would be lying. I think the only thing that would be allowed eventually to come to rescue the Pemon people in all the regions, but first you have to stabilize a country, that’s a fundamental challenge, and to reunite the people is gonna be the greatest challenge ahead of us, how I always believe that Venezuela will go ahead by part, become whole or we don’t come out. Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure for me to participate.
Baroness: thank you very much, on behalf of the Henry Jackson Society I have to thank you all for coming, I hope that you’ve found it an uplifting and motivating meeting, and that you’re going to go out of this room and think about how each and every single one of you can do something to change the situation. On that note, thank you very much, our time is up we now have to finish the meeting.