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Guaidó Has The Majority Of Venezuela On His Side, His Political Adviser Says


We're now joined here in the studio by a political adviser to the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido. Francisco Marquez was imprisoned for four months by President Nicolas Maduro. Upon release, he left the country. He now lives in the U.S. Francisco Marquez, welcome to the program.

FRANCISCO MARQUEZ: Thank you for having me here.

CORNISH: So help us understand. You're in touch with Juan Guaido. How have you seen the last 48 hours? Was this a political gamble, so to speak, that paid off?

MARQUEZ: The last 48 hours, President Guaido ordered security forces to restore constitutional order. That's what we saw. This was not a coup d'etat. This was a legitimate president recognized by the Venezuelans and by over 60 countries asking security forces to go on the right side of the Constitution.

CORNISH: And at this point, when you're talking about directing the security forces, do you know what proportion is still loyal to Nicolas Maduro?

MARQUEZ: This is a nationwide movement by the security forces. And the majority of security forces are with the people. Remember; these military men, lower and high-ranking, have Venezuelan families that don't have food on the table, that they can't find medicine. So they're deeply impacted by the crisis.

CORNISH: But if we look onscreen and see a crackdown and see people going after protesters, how should we see that?

MARQUEZ: Well, there are definitely still regime officials supporting the regime of Maduro. That's a fact, but it's not the majority. And I would also point to that, in fact, even though there were millions of Venezuelans on the streets, there wasn't widespread repression. Read into what all that the security forces don't do, the orders that they don't follow. And that's also a big break in this situation.

CORNISH: As you talked about, there is this sense that there are members of the military who are defecting, so to speak, in support of Juan Guaido. Do you know how much of the military is actually in support of your movement right now?

MARQUEZ: The transition is a process. Think about when the Berlin Wall fell. It wasn't a day. It was a process. And since January 23, when the constitutionally designated interim president, Guaido, started this process, he asked for security forces to support the constitutional president. Ever since then, we've seen constant and a trickle effect of both high-level and middle and lower ranks of security forces.

CORNISH: What's your communication like with the White House, with the Trump administration?

MARQUEZ: Well, I'm here advising Ambassador Vecchio. And Ambassador Vecchio and myself have very fluid communication with members of Congress, with the State Department, with the White House. And we've always radiated and seen with very good eyes that this is a bipartisan issue.

CORNISH: So what does it mean to you when you hear someone like John Bolton, the national security adviser, talking about all options being on the table when it comes to support for Venezuela? Do you have any fears about military intervention?

MARQUEZ: Well, first of all, we continue to ask for all options on the table because...

CORNISH: So you want it. You want that to be a potential.

MARQUEZ: We want all options on the table. We haven't asked specifically for military intervention. And the big difference is that you have to be responsible about this. Think of a Rwanda-style scenario. Think about when Maduro continues to murder more and more people. He has asked regime militia armed groups to repress peaceful protesters. So I think we have to be responsible about this approach. And that's precisely - we always ask for a peaceful and constitutional solution. In what other dictatorship do you see a national assembly, an interim president with the people asking for the regime to leave?

CORNISH: You were a political prisoner. What's this moment like for you personally?

MARQUEZ: I've been fighting this fight since I was 13. Chavez got into power a long time ago. Now I'm 32. I'm married. I'm an exile. We will - I will continue to fight this fight. And this fight is about the survival of the Venezuelan people. We're fighting to get back home. We're fighting for our home. We're fighting to rebuild our country. So we will continue to do this. Failure is not an option for us.

CORNISH: Francisco Marquez is an adviser to Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido. He lives in the U.S. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

MARQUEZ: Thank you. Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF GAUSSIAN CURVE'S "T.O.R.") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.