Angel Prado is a member of a commune and classifies himself as a genuine campesino (rural worker). Born in the state of Portuguesa and brought up in Lara, he won his seat in the National Constituent Assembly for the Simon Planas municipality of Lara.
In spite of criticism from some sectors, Prado says it was prudent of the ANC to prioritize political issues during its first month “because we were on the brink of a war”. However, he says it is urgent to “lay down plans that respond to the issue of the economy”.
In this political-economic context, what should be the ANC’s priority?
The ANC should make the issue of the economy a priority, which is the principal demand of the people. We cannot speak of peace without social justice. Justice is also about controlling the disaster that some business people have imposed on us through supply shortages, hoarding and high prices. I think that is the part of the peace that we are working on and the principal priority that we have as the constituent assembly.
Our people are being plundered by monopolies, businesses and lobbies such as FEDECAMERAS, which have industrial capacity. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that there is maneuvering by great powers on the international level in order to blockade us. But here we can challenge much of this if we start to be vigilant with corruption and bureaucracy, and if we stand firm in the face of the promises of the right-wing, when they try to make us believe that we can solve everything through private business.
We must approach the issue of the economy as a matter of urgency, because that is a commitment to our people. The people voted for two things in particular: one was to end the guarimbas (violent anti-government protests) and the other was to control the issue of the price increases which have been plundering our people.
The issue of the economy is also related to national production. From a legislative point of view, what can be done to promote agricultural production?
Throughout this first month we have been participating in the debates of the ANC, but now it’s time for us to make concrete contributions in order to change some of the methods that we have been developing in relation to agricultural production. We believe the ANC should review the issue of property.
We have a great number of companies that were recovered by the Bolivarian revolution under President Hugo Chavez, and strangely today we see that there are those who propose alliances with the private sector, that are not nationalist at all! It is worrying to see how they strip campesinos of 500 hectares of land in order to hand them over to the private sector, for example.
So, it is important to review these decisions and strengthen what is needed in the agricultural sector, through financing, seeds, machinery, risk systems etc.
We also need to review the issue of the Land Law, in terms of unused land, and against the large landed estate owners (latifundistas). We must review and contribute to that, from the ANC, to strengthen those laws and to create radical changes in order to guarantee the food supply to the people.
Without denying the attacks that the national economy is suffering due to the well-known United States blockade against the nation, the ANC trusts that the Venezuelan people can evade the assault through work and organisation.
I think there are many ways of confronting the threats of imperialism and the issue of the economy, but I believe that it is time to lay down plans that respond to the economic crisis.
We believe that Venezuela can live through a blockade similar to that of Cuba, but we believe that we have a lot of potential to produce in this country: lots of people know how to work, and there is a lot of land and economic resources to help us face this difficult situation that great powers are imposing on us. What they want is Venezuelan oil.
With a bit more order in the country, and by better administering what we have, we can face this situation, accompanied by a true productive plan brought to fruition.
How would you describe the internal economic debate, the contradictions and the correlation of forces that potentially exist right now in the ANC?
It is an interesting moment that the Revolution is living through. When we had everything with Chavez, we were distracted, we didn’t deepen the debate. We lived with the threat that is affecting us today, and now we must radicalise in order to define where we are headed towards – what is the model. We are going to defend socialism, we are headed towards a model in which we all live together.
I think that in one way or another, a debate has to take place in terms of where we are headed, because that is a demand of the people. The contradictions are not just about taking power away from vested interests, but about generating a debate which allows us to define the direction of the revolution.
It’s sad and regretful that some people are not going to accept this, but we have a commitment to the history of Venezuela, to Chavez, a commitment to our people to work extremely hard to advance towards the socialism which President Chavez entrusted to us.
I think the popular sectors of the country must make a great effort because we are not planning to exclude anybody, but we are working in the name of defining the direction towards where we are headed.
Do you believe that there are internal Chavista tendencies in the ANC?
I don’t think so. I think that there a different positions, if we take into account that all sectors (of society) were called upon, and the tendency which prevails is Chavismo.
I would say that there is just one tendency of Chavismo, and within it there is a lot of diversity of thought; you can see this in practice, formation and methodology. There are comrades that might have another point of view, and if that means that there are internal tendencies within Chavismo, well. But we know that there are different organizations and each one takes up (the mantle of) Chavismo as a form of carrying out revolution.
We are still there on the lookout, working hard in relation to our responsibilities. We are very clear about what we came for, what responsibilities correspond to us, and what we must do.
What is the way to make sure that these voices and diversity of thought within Chavismo have spaces within the revolution?
The ANC is a space for that; the idea is to guarantee the participation of everyone, for the different expressions of organization and Chavismo.
The ANC is a place for participation that must be taken advantage of to the maximum so that the people have an opportunity to express themselves there. We are not going to accept, no matter what, somebody attempting to condition or put limits on these sectors (of society) expressing ourselves, because at the end of the day it is the original (constituent) power that was called upon.
In this first month of debate in the ANC, do you believe that political issues have taken precedent over economic ones?
Yes, and it was necessary to prioritize the political because we were in total chaos and on the brink of a war. It was a very sensible decision. But now it is precisely the moment to address the issue of the economy, because there are other problems affecting us, such as the issue of corruption, bureaucracy, internal complicity (within the revolution), and deserters believing that Maduro is going to fall. Now is the moment, and we are debating that and assuming that responsibility, not just from the orator's’ platform, but also at the heart of the ANC. There is every intention of definitively addressing this issue.