“Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne und die trägt er im Gesicht…”
(“The shark, he has teeth, and he wears them in his face…”)
Still on the Venezuela theme, I have this interview in RIA Novosti with Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela. The interview is from 30 January, and Maduro spoke with Russian reporter Dmitry Znamensky. I assume that they spoke in Spanish, but I don’t have the Spanish, just the Russian, so I am translating from Russian to English (sort of third-hand, but hopefully most of the semantics will be captured correctly). In any case, we are not talking about translating poetry. Maduro is a very straight-forward man of the people, and I am pretty sure there is very little ambiguity in anything that he says.
Later in the week, I will follow the interview with a summary of this piece from yesterday, in which it is confirmed that the rumors about Venezuela selling its gold to Russia, are true. In return for the selling (or perhaps pawning?) of the gold, Venezuela gets a beefy tranche of $$$ from Russia, something in the order of billions, that the government can use, in any way it sees fit, to rebuild the socialist economy crippled by American sanctions.
Contrast this with American offers of aid, just a few millions, peanuts actually, enough to toss a few tins of spam to the hungry mob. And the price for this spam will come dear: All of Venezuelan natural resources: Oil, Gas, Gold, the whole 9 yards. Russians who lived through the Yeltsin coup, know exactly what such “American aid” consists of, and what price they had to pay for it. It goes without saying that the American Yanquis are furious about the sale of gold which they believe belongs to them their Pretender-President Juan Guaidó. He’s the guy who is always photographed with his mouth open, always shouting, always showing off those rows and rows of perfect white teeth.
[Without further ado, or editorial commentary on my part, here is the interview. I denote the reporter Znamensky as Z and Maduro as M.]
Z: Currently, in this highly critical situation for Venezuela, have you requested any help from Russia? In other words, has there been any talk of military or financial support? We heard rumors that a numbers of Russians have arrived in Venezuela, from the organs which provide security; as our media reports, they are there to provide for your personal security. Is that true, or not?
M: President Vladimir Putin always provides us with all types of assistance from Russia, and we accept it with gratitude. What I asked of President Putin, was that we maintain constant contacts, and that there be support on the diplomatic and political levels, in the United Nations; and to defend Venezuela’s righteousness in the international arena. During the course of a conversation, several days ago, he (Putin) told me that we are going to strengthen our collaboration in the economic spheres, trade, oil, gas, military, in all possible directions. As regards military collaboration, we have Russian technology of the highest level, the most modern systems of military weaponry can be found in Venezuela, they are well distributed, our entire military knows how to handle them, these systems underwent testing in Russia. We have very good mutual relations when it comes to military coordination with Putin.
Z: In this situation, do you plan to ask for any new weapons?
M: We always have plans for future procurements, in order to continuously improve our air defenses, our artillery, our rocket technology. We will always be moving forwards in this arena. And Venezuela will always be procuring the most modern weapons in the world.
M: The weapons arrive every month, every month there is cooperation (in this arena). And that’s a normal thing, there is nothing unusual about that.
Z: Do you see any risks for Russia, by continuing to collaborate with Venezuela, after the United States laid out these new sanctions against PDVSA [the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company, parent of Citgo in the U.S.]
M: None at all. Because Russia is an independent, sovereign country. Russian enterprises are the largest in the world; they have their own engineering cadres, finances, logistics. The PDVSA is an enterprise belonging to a sovereign country; and hence we are two independent countries, we conduct business, organize investments and complete large projects in the extraction of oil. Everything will be well, the business between Russia and Venezuela in the sphere of oil and gas, is protected by armor.
[to be continued]