By Diálogo May 31, 2019 Caracas — In an interview for el Nuevo Herald and Diálogo — initially published in el Nuevo Herald — Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó addresses the talks in Norway that ended without agreement, the role of the military in rebuilding the country, and Cuban interference, among other topics. Diálogo: How would you describe what happened in Norway? Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó: As one more initiative. We are facing a dictatorship that for years has shown itself to use this type of initiative to delay, to gain time, to confuse public opinion, and to make us look weak. In this case it didn’t work for them. Venezuela is out of time, the children of [pediatric hospital] J.M. de Los Ríos [in Caracas] are out of time, the person without food in Maracaibo is out of time; we are going through the worst humanitarian emergency in the history of this continent. And it was created by human factors, bad policies, corruption, and incompetence. The agenda is very clear: the cessation of usurpation, transition process, and free elections. The approximation to this [talk in Norway] would be to equate [Nicolás] Maduro’s government with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], if we want to compare it with any process, the mediation of a country like Norway; and 90 percent of the population [of Venezuela] wants change and has been taken hostage by a small group in power. How do I see Norway? As one more initiative. I’m not in love with the means; I’m in love with Venezuela. We are not going to confuse means with objectives; Norway was going to be a means to facilitate the objective. Diálogo: On June 3, the European Union’s International Contact Group on Venezuela will meet with the Lima Group. What do you hope will come of this process? Guaidó: What I would like? What I would have wanted from Norway, an end to usurpation, a transitional government, and free elections. But we Venezuelans have learned that there haven’t been any magic solutions. We would be bringing together the efforts of Europe and Latin America, understanding that the crisis is escalating. Diálogo: Is the crisis escalating? Guaidó: Six children died in Venezuela’s main pediatric hospital [J.M. de Los Ríos] in a week. As we speak, there is no electricity in Maracaibo today [May 29]. We are on the verge of a catastrophe. Diálogo: The National Assembly approved re-entry into the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance or TIAR. What are your thoughts on this? Guaidó: For us the inter-American system is key. Dialogue with countries around the world and recognition from the OAS [Organization of American States] is key. It’s important in the face of the humanitarian emergency we are experiencing. Diálogo: What role will the military in Colombia and Brazil play to end the usurpation? Guaidó: They are giving the crisis more visibility, the unrest that exists within the Armed Forces, exerting pressure on the regime, on their brothers, on their colleagues in arms, who must do the right thing, who must be on the side of the Constitution. And they will have a role in the reconstruction of Venezuela; they will keep their ranks and their positions according to the amnesty law. Both my grandparents were service members. And they will have a key role in exercising sovereignty. The ELN [National Liberation Army] is on the Venezuelan border and there are already 11 states where paramilitaries and guerrillas are present. The Armed Force is essential for the stability of the country. Diálogo: What is the ELN role in the Venezuelan crisis? Guaidó: I don’t know about its specific political participation, but it seems that Maduro’s government allows it to participate in Venezuela. It seems that there is explicit complicity; this is very serious because it would make Maduro a dictator who sponsors terrorism. Colombian intelligence has already said that an ELN member, who was in Venezuela for a long time, allegedly perpetrated the attack on the police academy in Bogotá. Diálogo: Can we talk about Cuban interference or that of other countries in Venezuela’s internal affairs? Guaidó: Mainly from Cuba, I don’t see other countries with such intensity, I see Cuba, Cuba does [interfere], clearly. It’s involved in decision-making, it’s the inner security ring; Maduro relies so little on the Armed Forces that his closest security ring is Cuban. That’s the way it is. The service members who sided with the Constitution said that Maduro’s inner security ring is Cuban. Cuba leads intelligence and counter-intelligence to terrorize and frighten; Cuban officials carry out part of the torture on Venezuelan service members, which upsets the Armed Forces a lot. Cuban interference and intervention in Venezuela is very serious. Diálogo: After the departure of General Cristopher Figuera, how is the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service [SEBIN], how is Maduro’s intelligence and security apparatus today? Guaidó: Imagine that in another country, in the United States or Colombia, the head of intelligence makes a stand against the current president. And not only that, Cristopher’s assistant was assassinated, which Gen. Cristopher himself denounced. Imagine that the head of intelligence of a country X accuses the president of murdering his assistant, because of political retaliation. Imagine how serious this is, so much so that he [Maduro] had to bring back a general who was removed for not trusting him [Gustavo González, former head of SEBIN, who was removed after the death in custody of Councilman Fernando Albán, was reinstated in early May]. So how serious is it [the SEBIN]? Very serious. Diálogo: After Norway, how is the relationship with the United States, with the rest of the international community? Guaidó: Very positive, productive in the face of the cessation of usurpation. I just spoke with [U.S.] Vice President Mike Pence, he is very concerned about the humanitarian crisis and we spoke for several minutes. They are also very worried about the persecution of 15 deputies whose immunity was violated, who were persecuted and abducted, such as Édgar Zambrano, vice president of the parliament. Diálogo: This doesn’t stop; the government continues to act against the Assembly… Guaidó: The regime has been acting since 2015 to weaken the power, and only the regime was weakened. Although it operationally hits and tries to generate fear, since the attack on the parliament began, it’s a minority, fewer people worldwide recognize them; they have fewer loans; they have sanctions. They hit very hard extrajudicially, but don’t have judicial backing. Diálogo: What did Vice President Pence say to you when you told him that Norway didn’t bear fruit? Guaidó: The international community no longer believes in this regime. A few who in good faith are still trying to mediate persevere, but we are very much aligned with our U.S. allies and the Lima Group. Many things brought us to this point. Operation Liberty must continue in the streets and with the Armed Forces, to stir awareness and souls. Diálogo: The J.M. [de Los Ríos hospital] situation has been devastating… Guaidó: That happens every day in [the states of] Portuguesa and Táchira. Those little babies put a face to the tragedy we are living in Venezuela. That’s the face of 7 million Venezuelans today. Diálogo: Canada approached Cuba about the Venezuelan crisis… Guaidó: Yes, I spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two weeks ago. It’s not like we believe in the good faith of the Cuban regime, which helped build this and maintains part of the intelligence and counterintelligence apparatus. Yet again, we will exhaust all efforts. We have international support. Diálogo: Will oil production continue to fall with the regime and what can be done to recover it? Guaidó: Unfortunately, production will continue to fall, first because they are incompetent, and then because they mortgaged the state-owned oil company at an all-time high. They mortgaged it. They indebted Citgo, our grandchildren’s interests. When Venezuela changes, which won’t be long, Venezuela’s economic potential is very high, not only because of the oil reserves, but also because of its geographical location and the labor force. The recovery is going to be very, very quick. With the political change, benchmark changes will be very fast. I am sure that many would like to come and interfere with a stable country. Diálogo: How do you counter Cuba’s influence on intelligence? Guaidó: The way we’ve been doing it. The intelligence network has diminished in a way, as the supply of oil to Cuba was cut off with the support of our allies, leaving those networks without funding. Through these actions, that network is weaker than it was a year ago. For example, when they had Cuban doctors present, which is no longer the case due to the crisis, they had an intelligence network as well. It continues to be a fear factor, but it’s weaker. Diálogo: What would a military intervention in Venezuela look like? Guaidó: We wouldn’t be able to talk about military intervention in the case of Venezuela, should we request cooperation. The parliament is the only one that could authorize foreign military missions in the national territory, which already exist with the Cubans and the ELN, and with Russian military planes. Those are illegal and illegitimate and should be an outrage. The best solution is the one with the lowest social cost. The best solution is for Maduro to leave today, but that’s not going to happen voluntarily. We will be on the streets again […]. We’re deciding our fate.
DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoTen months ago, Kenny Dix could point to Wisconsin on the map — and that was about the extent of his knowledge of the state. Now, nearly a year later, Dix is sporting the cardinal and white as a true freshman midfielder for the University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team.And he has big shoes to fill.The Badgers lost a solid veteran midfielder in Noah Goerlitz after last season. Goerlitz was second on the team with five assists a year ago and started all but one of the Badgers’ 19 games, so head coach Jeff Rohrman was going to need someone to step in right away.That somebody has turned out to be Dix.”He’s come in and he’s played simple,” Rohrman said. “He hasn’t tried to overdo things and he’s played within himself. And he’s done a great job for us. I think we’ve found a spot for him where he can be successful.”He has relished the opportunity, starting in three of the first four games for the Badgers. While his stat sheet may not look impressive, he has already made an impression on his coach.”He’s just been very steady, one of our most consistent performers through four games,” Rohrman said. “I’m not surprised and hopefully we’ll continue to see that.”He played so steady, in fact, that he was named to the all-tournament team at last weekend’s UW-Milwaukee Panther Classic.Dix had just two shots, one of them on goal, and was surprised when his name was announced. But team captain Aaron Hohlbein recognized how important the freshman was in salvaging a weekend split.”Kenny played awesome last weekend,” Hohlbein said. “It was his first weekend playing in that defensive-mid position and he was solid. He did the simple things right and he dictated play for us.”However, the all-tournament award was not even his first honor as a Badger. Before the season started, College Soccer News named him one of their Top 100 Freshmen.The quick start to Dix’s career at Wisconsin is a far cry from where he thought he would be at this time last year. The Atlanta native had not even considered coming to Madison at that point, but he’s glad the opportunity came his way.”I actually, pretty much didn’t know this school existed until over Christmas time, which is really late in the recruiting process,” Dix said. “Coach just saw me play in a tournament at the Disney Showcase and he talked to me, then [I] came out for a visit and I loved it. Everyone loves to be here and it’s an awesome place so I decided this was definitely the place for me.”Dix got his fair share of experience on the pitch growing up. He started playing when he was just three years old and hasn’t stopped since.Playing varsity soccer in high school, he helped his team to a state championship his junior year. He also played on regional and state club teams and the state team made it to national competition.”I just played on good teams,” Dix said. “It’s not like me doing anything extra, it’s just a lot of good players.”But the humble freshman deserved some credit for his teams’ success as well, and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America recognized it, making him part of the NSCAA/Adidas Boys Youth All-America Team.”The youth All-American award was pretty exciting because it recognizes you as one of the best youth players,” Dix said. “The club side of soccer is really competitive. I was really thrilled and honored.”His experience before coming to Wisconsin undoubtedly has helped his transition to Division I college soccer as he earned the starting nod in his first game as a Badger.”I hoped for it, but I didn’t expect it, so when I got the opportunity to play I was pretty excited,” Dix said. “I got a good opportunity and I took advantage of it.””Kenny’s smooth. He stepped right in there and filled in a very important position on the field,” Hohlbein said. “He’s got a lot of skill and he’s quick. He’s just a great player.”Of course, that very important position was left vacant by Goerlitz after last season. Hohlbein sees many similarities in the play of Goerlitz, a senior last season, and Dix.”They’re very similar players,” the captain said. “He plays a lot like Noah in that he works his butt off every second on the field. He does the simple things right like Noah did.”Dix, standing just 5’8” and weighing 140 pounds, is nearly the exact same size as the departed Goerlitz. Hohlbein did not believe that his size was a detriment, acknowledging the fact that he does a great job of getting up in the air to win headers.Being not only a freshman, but also one of the smaller players, it seems like Dix could be picked on early in his career. But Dix hasn’t let his size stop him before, especially not in his first four games in a Badger uniform, and he’s not about let it start. “I’m smaller so I definitely need to play faster and always know, when I get the ball, where I need to put it,” Dix said.”But I’m not too small, I can get around out there.”