This is the transcript of an interview conducted by Cliff Kincaid with Alejandro Peña Esclusa, president of UnoAmerica and the author of The Foro de São Paulo: A Threat to Freedom in Latin America. Peña Esclusa, a former Venezuelan presidential candidate and a prominent critic of the Hugo Chavez regime in Venezuela, has been spearheading opposition to the Sao Paulo Forum, a coalition of communist and leftist parties and terrorist movements in Latin America. With the end of the Cold War in 1989, it was believed by many that communism was on the wane. However, with Fidel Castro isolated in Cuba, he reached out to Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva of the Worker’s Party of Brazil, who would later become President of Brazil. An event was hosted in São Paulo, Brazil in 1990, the seat of Lula’s power, bringing together what came to be known as the São Paulo Forum.
UnoAmerica recognized the new Honduran government. Who and what does UnoAmerica represent?
UnoAmerica is an Alliance of Latin-American Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), created to defend democracy and freedom, both currently in danger in our continent. We decided to recognize the new Honduran government because the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya was actually an impeachment. Zelaya wanted to change the Constitution, without the approval of the Supreme Court and the Congress, in order to stay illegally in power. As in all democratic governments, there are three branches of power in Honduras. In this case, the Executive wanted to stage a coup against the Constitution, and the other two powers (Legislative and Judiciary) did not let that happen. It is very simple.
Why is the world allied against the new government?
In part, because of disinformation, and in part, because Hugo Chavez and his allies have been conducting a black propaganda operation against the new government, in order to defend their friend Zelaya. Unfortunately, some authorities in the U.S. have fallen for that version, without really knowing what went on.
Why is Obama siding with Chavez and Castro on this matter?
I believe that, on the one hand, Obama is beginning to show his socialist tendencies, which were denounced during the American presidential campaign. On the other hand, Obama is letting himself be influenced by several presidents of Latin America, particularly Lula of Brazil, who is the real power behind the São Paulo Forum.
Can Honduras be saved from Chavez?
I think it can, but it requires the participation of all citizens, not only of Latin America, but of the U.S. as well. Honduras is facing tremendous pressures, and will not be able to bear them without the help of the world public opinion. Every article, every interview, in favor of the Honduran democracy helps to defend their institutions against Chavez’s assault.
What has happened to the Organization of American States?
Unfortunately, 15 presidents of Latin America belong to the São Paulo Forum, and seven other governments (especially from the Caribbean islands, who are dependent on Chavez’s oil shipments) do as well. We could say, then, that 22 of 34 of the votes in the OAS are controlled by Chavez. José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS, himself belongs to the Chilean Socialist Party, which is a member of the São Paulo Forum.
Some of the pro-Zelaya protesters in Honduras have been seen with symbols of Che Guevara. What does that tell you? Why the fascination with Che?
The São Paulo Forum has done a lot of propaganda in favor of Che and Fidel Castro. It is now trying to change the history books in order to modify our traditional conservative values and create instead a new set of principles based on socialism. Many youngsters are victims of that campaign.
What is your opinion about the negotiations that have been announced between the Honduran government and Zelaya?
I welcome any negotiations that will serve to prevent violent confrontations. And I think it’s the best way to find a durable solution to the Honduran crisis. But it’s fair to say that there are not two factions in Hondurans, but just one, because the overwhelming majority of the Honduran population supports the new government. The other “faction” is composed of paid agitators financed by Chavez and led by foreigners, most of them Nicaraguans linked to the government of Ortega.
What center-right or pro-American governments exist in Latin America today?
I would say only four: Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Panama. Don’t be fooled by Lula; he is with Fidel Castro and with Chavez, but he is so hypocritical that he will claim to be a friend of the U.S.
How much freedom is left in Venezuela?
There is very little room left for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. This is a “third generation” dictatorship; not so cruel and obvious as Fidel Castro’s, but just as evil. There are elections, but rigged. There is certain freedom of press, but the media is threatened with closure if it “crosses the line.” Not all Chavez’s adversaries are persecuted, just some, but enough to spread fear among the rest. All three branches of power are controlled by Chavez. The Constitution has been rewritten to allow Chavez to stay in power indefinitely. Venezuelan petrodollars are used to export his Marxist revolution throughout Latin America. And the government is closely related with Colombian narco-terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists.
Can freedom be saved in Venezuela?
Yes, but not through elections, because, as I mentioned before, they are rigged. Only a process similar to that of Honduras can rescue democracy and freedom in Venezuela. That’s why Chavez is so interested in crushing the new Honduran government. He does not want such an example spread to his own country.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of freedom in Latin America?
I am very optimistic, but it will be a very complicated and traumatic outcome, which many won’t understand. Exactly as what is happening in Honduras. I think it would be useful for the American population to read again their own Declaration of Independence, especially the part about the rights of the people to be free from tyrants. This is exactly what Hondurans are doing today, and most probably what Venezuelans will do in the near future.
It is a shame that President Obama is aligning himself with the allies of Chavez and Ahmadinejad to crush a democratic process in Honduras. I ask myself: Will he really be conscious of the tremendous damage he is inflicting to democracy and freedom in our continent? Does he really know the danger he is posing to the national security of the United States?