CARACAS – Clashes in the streets and between institutions of the Venezuelan government are out of control and have the country “at the brink of a civil war” that “everyone stands to lose,” the former head of military counterintelligence told EFE in an interview.
Hugo Carvajal was very close to the late President Hugo Chavez, and his participation in the Bolivarian Revolution was appreciated by Chavista leaders and by Nicolas Maduro himself, who defended him when in mid-2014 he was detained in Aruba by the United States for drug trafficking... and was released by the Netherlands authorities soon afterwards.
The major general, who headed the Intelligence Department for more than seven years during the governments of the late president and his successor, told EFE that the country is going through “a conflict with many causes,” and which he believes can only be resolved by negotiation.
The current situation “is the result of an economy in crisis,” he said, since “three years have gone by and we still don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” though it still hasn’t hit “rock bottom.”
Without directly blaming the government, Carvajal spoke about the wave of anti-government protests, in which 100 people have now died, and said that “citizens know very well what the cause is.”
“It has some very special characteristics – I see that sometimes the protests are not called by opposition leaders but are perfectly spontaneous,” adding that “it’s worth analyzing” why the demonstrators “are not afraid.”
“That could intensify the conflict, which is why I say we’re on the brink of a civil war,” he warned.
The retired officer, who says he will die a Chavista, believes that at this point of the crisis, “an agreement has to be reached between the Maduro government and leaders of the opposition.”
Though he evaded direct questions about the legality of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, imposed without asking the approval of Venezuela’s citizens and which could lead to the dissolution of the National Assembly legislative body, considered by the opposition as the last bastion of democracy, Carvajal said “I’ve only been a legislator for a year and a half, and I don’t plan to step aside, I’ll be there to the end.”
Dissolution of the National Assembly is something the Constituent Assembly could enact after it is elected.
Confrontation between the branches of government, with the neutralization of the legislature by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) and the indictment of Attorney General Luisa Ortega following her rebellion against the current version of Chavismo, is, Carvajal believes, evidence that “this is a government in crisis.”