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Hope India will act in a sovereign manner: Venezuelan Ambassador Augusto Montiel

Ambassador of Venezuela to India Augusto Montiel.

Ambassador of Venezuela to India Augusto Montiel.  

India has been supportive of the country so far, says Augusto Montiel

As crisis continues in Venezuela where the government of President Nicolas Maduro is facing rallies from the Opposition, the Ambassador of Venezuela to India Augusto Montiel indicated that India has been supportive of his country so far. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, he said that hydrocarbon collaboration between the two countries have not been disturbed by the ongoing trouble and expressed hope that India judge the situation in an independent manner.

Excerpts:

There are reports of prison massacre, and reports of breakdown of law and order are pouring out of Venezuela. What is the latest situation on Venezuela?

There was a prison riot in the Opposition-governed state of Amazonas that sadly left 37 people killed and several guards injured. All we know is that the General Attorney’s Office has designated 2 special prosecutors to get to the bottom of it. Just as the National Electoral Council has been working the electoral process for the regional governors’ elections, the rest of the state institutions are working in a normal manner.

Do you anticipate more pressure from the U.S. on Venezuela in the coming day?

Sadly the U.S. administration has refused to speak to President Maduro, they have instead launched a campaign to bolster support from several U.S.-friendly governments in the region to attempt to expand sanctions against Venezuela. They have failed in the U.N. Security Council and they have failed six times in the OAS, so now they are trying the bilateral approach to try to get any of our neighbours to “request” more U.S. actions against us. So far we have heard positive responses from all of the countries visited, they do not agree with the U.S. idea of military intervention. It is a small glimmer of hope that President Maduro´s call for a regional summit to initiate a great dialogue in CELAC might be heard.

Do you think India's strong ties with the U.S. prevents it from criticising American actions against the present government of Venezuela?

We don’t believe a strong nation like India makes its decisions based on other countries’ opinions. In June, when the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. threatened to leave the U.N. Human Rights Council if it did not sanction Venezuela, India was one of the 57 countries that co-signed a Statement of Support for Venezuela. We respect India’s stance of non interference in internal matters of developing nations and would wish the U.S. to emulate this position, we believe the world would be a safer and more stable place.

Has the NAM supported Venezuelan government so far during the turmoil?

Venezuela held a very successful NAM summit last year; former Vice-President Hamid Ansari led the Indian delegation in an impressive speech that evoked the principles of Bandung, especially the principles of non intervention. Just this year NAM issued a statement condemning the renewal of the U.S. executive order that considers Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. security.” As acting chair of NAM, we can say proudly that there has been a lot of support at the U.N. and you will see it this September in the UNGAS.

Has the crisis in Venezuela affected India-Venezuela trade in any ways so far?

Thankfully, there have been no negative effects to bilateral trade, the “crisis” was limited to small urban posh municipalities where Opposition Mayors and Governors rule. The industrial and oil sectors are completely normal and just a few months ago, ONGC inaugurated a high-pressure water pump as part of a multimillion dollar deal signed November last year between the two countries. Now that the negative media barrage is dwindling, we have begun to receive more enquiries from potential investors that want to export to Venezuela and we are confident that we can increase the trade in line with our national plan to diversify its economy.

Following Vice-President Pence's visit to Latin America, do you expect some developments that would help Venezuela?

U.S. meddling in the region has always ended in rejection and we believe that the leaders of these countries will be forced to listen to their people. In every country he has visited, there have been protests against him and in support of Venezuela, as is the usual case with U.S. dignitaries, just take the last G20 summit. Every day more regional and world countries have been actively voicing their rejection of U.S. intervention in Venezuela and the need to give dialogue a chance.

India has indicated that it will follow the Western line on North Korea and has criticised North Korea strongly. Do you fear that India's silence on Venezuela is a sign of cold ties between the two countries?

India and Venezuela have supported each other for more than 40 years in diverse multilateral forums and have fostered stable economic relations that have increased tenfold in the last 12 years. There is no indication that will change in the short time. India has an excellent foreign service that reports directly from the ground and is not influenced by easily dispelled media reports.

What would be your response if India continues to maintain silence on the external intervention in Venezuela?

We appreciate all of the governments that have openly voiced their support, as well as those that have done it unofficially, unlike some world powers; our friendly relations are not based on conjunctural events, but rather on historic bonds. We believe the Indian government is acutely aware of the real situation and will act in a sovereign manner.

What you expect India to do in this situation?

Support doesn’t always have to be open and public, there are many ways countries support partners. The fact that state owned Indian oil companies continue to invest in Venezuela is a clear sign that confidence in the country has not been diminished despite such negative reporting in the last few months.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:49:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hope-india-will-act-in-a-sovereign-manner-venezuelan-ambassador/article19525324.ece

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