The world where Pedro Infante ran his first years of life has its epicenter in the El Amparo de Catia neighborhood, between the Caracas parishes Sucre and January 23, where he is now a candidate for deputy on the Psuv card.
The former Sports Minister knows very well how many blocks, alleys and sidewalks surround that neighborhood where he was born. To prove it (or provoke it) we told him that in a house in that neighborhood they had Vladimiro Montesinos, that security adviser to then Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori who they hid in Venezuela during 2001. “It was one of the best houses in the neighborhood”, Infante said. “Within the neighborhood, it was the largest house; a kind of fifth, "he said.
But near that neighborhood, Pedro Infante studied preschool at the Fundación del Niño, primary school at José Gervasio Artigas school and secondary school at the Andrés Eloy Blanco high school classrooms, all located between Cuartel and Propatria avenues. "I was a regular to good student," admits Infante, who also ventured into soccer with teams from the Caracas team. "I was trained at the Jachico football school," Infante commented during an interview with Últimas Noticias.
At home he listened to the stories of his father, also called Pedro Infante, and especially his participation in the military rebellion of November 27, 1992. "My father was persecuted, the house was raided," recalled Infante, whose father was a militant in the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), MVR-200 and Psuv.
At the beginning of 2001, Pedro Infante left that world of Cathay. He went to Cuba for five years and returned with a degree in Physical Education and Sports. In June 2017, President Nicolás Maduro appointed him Minister of Youth and Sports, a portfolio from which he left last September to compete for a position in the upcoming National Assembly for the circuit 1 of Caracas that includes the parishes Sucre, La Pastora and El Junquito.
- From the initial project launched by the late President Hugo Chávez, what debts are left?
—We advance in social matters. I think that economic independence has yet to be achieved, which has to do with national production, diversifying the economy. It is a pending task. We continue to depend a lot on oil and that has affected us; especially these last five years has been the litmus test. Income levels were lowered to 1%. Agricultural development, advance further in technological development. They are the central themes to be truly independent. Those things are pending and are written in the Constitution.
—Precisely on the occasion of the Anti-Blockade Law, they warned that this instrument placed Venezuela in a position of weakness in the face of what is called the empire. That's how it is?
"Most of the people who criticize the law do not know it." Venezuela has suffered the worst consequences of the blockade in the last five years. It is not the first country to block with unilateral coercive measures. The law is a framework law that seeks to generate new capacities to face a new reality. That law in 2006 was not necessary; Venezuela sold, they paid in foreign currency, we did not have foreign accounts blocked. Today we have the accounts blocked and they threaten any international provider if they trade with Venezuela. The law seeks to bypass the blockade and that Venezuela can trade with the world. Now, with that we are going to solve the whole problem? Surely not. I believe that Venezuela needs political stability, international recognition and that is why these elections have such strategic importance.
—Blocks of countries show ignorance of the parliamentary elections. "How are you going to approach that situation?"
—It is a kind of great fake news (deception), a great pantomime and immorality of the world powers. Notice that in the United States they go 13 days and they don't know who the president is. In other words, the fathers of modern democracy have not resolved their choices and they do not want to recognize ours. Our Constitution says that here who recognizes the elections is the National Electoral Council. The Lima Group, which says it does not also recognize, well there is the head of that group which is Peru, in two weeks they disqualify the president ... they have a great institutional disaster. They do not have any type of moral to tell Venezuela how to hold the elections.
- Is it possible that the new National Assembly has a word to solve everyday problems such as access to medicine and food?
"They are priorities." We remember in each act that 32 billion dollars are stolen from the republic. It is Citgo, a Venezuelan company in the United States; it is Monómeros, a Venezuelan company in Colombia; it is the gold that belongs to the Republic and is in a bank of England. They are financial resources of Venezuela that are blocked. We propose from the AN to make all efforts, build all the necessary bridges in all international instances. All the candidates for deputies of Chavismo and the opposition agree that the AN must build the necessary political forum to unblock Venezuela, to recover the assets that belong to Venezuela and put that at the service of the people.
- What way do you recommend to recover those assets: dialogue or lawsuits?
—Working both ways we have always done. Venezuela always extends its hand, the necessary bridges for political dialogue. The President said in a tweet that when we know who the new president of the United States is, good thanks to that new president and all the intention of dialogue. What we have to defend in international organizations, defend it, because it is fair. Monómeros is from Venezuela. We recently recovered the Venezuelan embassy in Bolivia after the Janine Áñez dictatorship had stripped it. We have to fight in all areas.
—There is an opposition group that does not recognize President Nicolás Maduro nor will it recognize women parliamentarians. How to mend this fracture in society?
—I think they have proposed in the cruelest way to fracture the country, divide it. Even we have information that separatist ideas from some territories have passed through his mind. At one time they spoke of the crescent towards the west of the country, through Zulia and Táchira. Surrender Guayana Esequiba, for example, a Venezuelan territory without a doubt. But in addition to that, they proposed to the Venezuelan youth to leave, they were the ones who promoted migration, fracturing the Venezuelan family. That one day we are going to measure it. We have to put all of this back together and I think it involves dialogue, tolerance, respect, and the recognition of all political actors. Now, what has the President told us, that the AN must become the main political forum in the country as it always should have been. That each one propose there the issues in security, sports, economy, that we are going to discuss the country from independence and sovereignty.
—That sector has proposed a new presidential election. Have you discussed that issue?
- What Chavismo does is respect the Constitution a lot. We must respect the Constitution. The next presidential elections will be held in 2024. In this December we have the elections of deputies, next year there are elections of mayors and governors. That is clear in our charter.
—There is a citizen security issue in Caracas and it is the Cota 905-La Vega corridor where criminal groups swarm. Is it true that these groups have support from any sector of the Government? What are they going to do with it?
What is certain is that the Government attends to any place where there is a problem where there is a need. I tell you this because all that corridor of La Vega, Cota 905, El Valle, Las Mayas, that is an area where a criminal logic has been enmeshed for some time as you said. We would never support or accompany an organization process like that, on the contrary, I believe that it is sport, culture, education, popular organization, which will allow us to resume, recompose a social life, a dynamic of community work that guarantees peace. So in front of that, what we have established is work dynamics, putting in a lot of sport, for example. Sport has been a key tool there in that sector.
—You come from being Minister of Youth and Sports. What will the AN promote for this sector?
—We have an Organic Sports Law approved in 2011 by deputies from Chavismo and the opposition. That law has been carried out; there are others that we have not managed to comply with 100%. Part of this law is missing. There is a complementary bill that we have discussed, which is the law of professional sports. But there is also the theme of recreation; there is a Recreation Law that must be regulated. People are asking us to follow more the policy of recreation, free time, leisure time, the use of public spaces, sports infrastructure. We will advance on that issue. I think the Venezuelan sports system has also been affected by the blockade. That is one of the most sensitive issues. There is much to be done, much remains to be done in this field.
—There are many teams, neighborhood sports organizations that are always asking for materials.
-Yes. The truth is that in the last five years there has been a process of decrease in investment, as there has been in all spheres of the country. If you had an income of 56 billion dollars a year and today you have one that does not reach 500 million dollars a year, that impacts all sectors of social life. We have to achieve the economic reactivation of Venezuela, which must also entail a reinvestment in sports; in infrastructure, in sports equipment, in social care for those who are dedicated to sports, coaches, physical education teachers, medical personnel, among others.
—We recently saw a video of the Olympic medalist Rubén Limardo working as a delivery man in Poland, a situation that he attributes to “the crisis in my country”, in his words.
—Mira Rubén is undoubtedly an athlete who is glory, our second Olympic gold medal in London 2012. Rubén has always had the support of the national government, always; Even in a pandemic, the Government has maintained support and it will continue to have it, it will continue to have it. I think it is part of the experiences that are taking place in the world today for various reasons. The specific case of Rubén has been attended to, I know that we have been attending to it. A little more surely is always missing.
—In the government of Luis Herrera Campins they said 'doing sports is making a homeland'.
"I agree with that slogan." President Chávez used it. I believe that sport is an extraordinary tool for community work, for popular organization, especially for meeting with Venezuelan youth.
"That is always an option," answered Pedro Infante when we asked him about the threats that are being woven to displace the government of President Nicolás Maduro. “Since Venezuela decided with Chávez to be independent and sovereign in the management of a strategic resource such as oil, we have already assumed a confrontation with US imperialism,” Infante completed.
“It has been 22 years that the conspiracy has not stopped; there have been internal betrayals ”, he said. When talking about the issue, he recalled that in January of last year he had to face attempts to generate violence in places where relatives of the wife of the head of state, Cilia Flores, reside. "Imperialism has decided by any means to end the Bolivarian revolution," he warned.
Western Special Economic Zone
The period of the AN that begins on January 5 is designed to "transform and improve", according to Pedro Infante. "Even transform issues that correspond to the Government," he clarified during the interview at his office in El Paraíso. On his desk, Infante keeps projects, among which are what is planned for circuit 1 in Caracas, the largest in the capital with 410 thousand voters. Infante promises to promote a special economic zone in that circuit, due to the potential it houses. He said that the Sucre parish is producing more than 50% of the shoes for the national market. El Junquito and La Pastora, in addition to the tourist potential, develop urban agriculture. "And Ciudad Caribia has an insulated capacity for industries," he said.
- “I think we have debts ethically. Chávez spoke of five dimensions of socialism: socially, we have advanced a lot; politically too; territorially, we are at that moment, ethically, morally, I think there is still a lot to do ”.
- "They have been able to conspire to hand over and tear the country apart, including the Venezuelan family that has been badly beaten in the last five years." “We cannot agree with war; we must always agree with peace, with dialogue, with permanent encounter ”.
- "The objective of our Government must always be the supreme happiness of our people and that goes through security conditions, better lighting, better education, better public services, to improve infrastructure, to guarantee better decent living conditions for our people" .
- “The physical departure of Commander Chávez and the fact that we do not play alone has made us slow down some processes. Revolutions always have their Achilles heel in economics, production, the ability to generate wealth to distribute to our people.