After serving one term in the European Parliament from the United Left Party (Izquierda Unida), Javier Couso is now running for the European Parliament as an independent candidate on the Positive Left platform (Izquierda Positiva-Revolución Ciudadana).
His programme is betting on "an alliance that is built from below, taking into account Latin American migrant organisations in Spain and with the participation of the left base" and is supported by ex-Minister of Culture of Cuba Abel Prieto, as well as journalist Ignacio Ramonet, author Rafael Poch, Belgian writer Michel Collon, Catalan writer Rosa Regas, journalist Stella Calloni, Argentine sociologist Atilio Borón, and Mexican author Fernando Buen Abad.
Sputnik: Your programme is called Positive Left (Izquierda en Positivo). Is there a negative left? Is it the left from which you came and why are you now running as an independent candidate?
Alberto Garzon, the federal coordinator of the United Left and Communist Party secretary general, Enrique Santiago, met and decided who would be on that list. It's a very tough list; for a person who is against the apparatus, like me, it was very difficult to make get on the list. So I left, because I realised that they had violated the deal, and I became an independent.
When I left the party, one small political organisation in Catalonia liked my work and they said that they could provide me with the bureaucratic apparatus necessary so that I could represent myself. I had only one condition — to be an independent candidate and have a multiple list.
Officially, we position ourselves as the Positive Left, but our first five spots are for migrants and independents. I've worked a lot with Latin Americans living in our country who are also Spanish. Many of them have links to the civil revolution of Rafael Correa. They say they want to come with me.
This is an independent project during a rise of far-right movements and xenophobia in Europe. Other left parties represent migrants, but they never put them at the top of the list [which makes it impossible for them to get a seat in the EP]. And here, yes, there is such an opportunity, and that is why we had a broad response in Latin America and among Hispanics.
Sputnik: For those who do not believe in politics, what can the platform offer? Can it really change their daily life?
Javier Couso: From the very start, I participated in social movements and saw that gap. The May 15 movement [the protest of outraged residents, who in 2011 set up a tent camp for several weeks in Puerta del Sol in Madrid], also intended to draw attention to political indifference. I think that lately many people have entered politics who are defending the ideals of the people. I see this in my area, an ordinary working class district of Madrid, Villa de Vallecas.
Since then, the situation has changed somewhat, but not a lot. I would say that the EU determines 70% of their life, and we have shown that my candidacy has reliability and it has been proven by five years of work.
To enter the European Parliament is to control what they are doing, to present another project that cares about its neighbourhood and looks at Latin America not from a Eurocentric and colonial superiority stance, but from a position of respect and a sustainable economy without neoliberal projects.
Sputnik: So resolving the migrants issue and their integration is your main proposal. Could you explain how you want to achieve this, what is this idea?
Javier Couso: First of all, it is cultural, emotional recognition, an attempt to explain that migrants in this country (Spain) make a greater contribution than what we acknowledge, and sometimes we even lie that they rob us. In Spain, for example, they use only 9% of the public health system and provide more than half of social security contributions, including their own pensions. Therefore, the first objective is to add the value of their work.
Further, it is necessary to demand that people who work here and have a residence permit, can participate in elections, regardless of whether they obtain dual citizenship or not.
Another suggestion is to return everything we stole. Europe has a colonial past, modern economic asymmetry has its reasons. It is necessary to bring back the protection schemes of the Mediterranean Sea and to develop a holistic approach to the problem of migration and refugees.
We must not negotiate with Turkey for 6 billion euros, so it creates concentration camps, and we must not finance the Libyan border guards, whom all organisations working with refugees accuse of piracy and murder. There are many things that we can do. The wish to live and run away from wars, which we have provoked, is much stronger than any wall that we want to build.
Sputnik: I am talking to you from Venezuela, a country where there is a constant political crisis, where the leftists are no longer perceived as a positive force, as in some other Latin American countries, together with the political turn around of most governments. Why does Europe have such an ambiguous stance position regarding Venezuela? And Spain?
Javier Couso: Because there are too many interests in both the People's Party (Partido Popular) and the party that calls itself "socialist", "workers'', and "Spanish" [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE]. They had many commercial and financial interests with the previous government that was in Venezuela.
Fortunately, we had such political figures as the former Prime Minister [José Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero. But Spain is heading the most extreme position in the EU, supporting the most extremist wing of the Venezuelan opposition; oddly enough, defending street terrorism, a coup and a terrorist attack against Nicolas Maduro.
This is linked to Washington's ideology of attacking all progressive processes by means of both military and economic intervention, which was aided by the International Monetary Fund in the 1970s.
It is currently in an unprecedented financial blockade, first of all, this concerns medicines and food, but the people continue to hold on, because the opposition is not able to make a proposal that would be supported by the majority of Venezuelans. Chavism remains the only organised and main force that has a plan for the country.
Sputnik: We have just witnessed the US systematically violating the Vienna Convention with regards to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington. Meanwhile, Europe was just a passive spectator.
Javier Couso: Europe, unfortunately, decided to be only a partial actor, and we spoke about this extremism earlier. European defence policy has no strategic autonomy from the United States.
It's terrible that the EU, which positions itself as a defender of international law and the UN Charter, didn't say anything against the violation of the Vienna Convention, which creates a very dangerous precedent. The US has never respected the international consensus, and it is a shame that the EU does nothing when, historically, it has established itself as a defender of these rights. It seems to me that Europe will pay dearly for this. It didn't even protest against what happened.
Sputnik: What do you think, is a US military intervention possible in Venezuela? Why?
Javier Couso: The United States has been in decline for some time now. We saw this during its show of force in Iraq. They couldn't even control the country. The US mobilised 100,000 soldiers, but they weren't able to control Iraq at any point. Imagine the situation with Venezuela. They tried to enter from two sides: Brazil and Colombia.
Brazil has clearly said to the United States that it is not going to provide its territory for an invasion of Venezuela. Colombia, due to the almost complete failure of the peace process in the country, is experiencing a resumption of the insurgent movement, which will put up a fight if the US goes there.
The Colombian Army is not ready to confront a modern army. In fact, its Air Force cannot even be compared with Venezuela's air and air defence forces.
In any case, such a threat is unacceptable on the international arena, and I believe that the United States understands that they are losing. And that is why they are re-creating tension with the EU and China, and increasing tensions with Iran.
Sputnik: Last week crisis talks between the opposition and the government representatives of Nicolas Maduro were held in Norway… Unsuccessful attempts have been going on since 2014. What is different this time around? What should Europe's role be?
Javier Couso: Norway gives optimism and guarantees, because it has participated in many negotiations and dialogues. We have to keep up our hope up. It is important that this opposition has autonomy in order to decide if it's ready for a political meeting with half of the population or a very important part of the population that exists and continues to vote.
The EU should be the coordinator, the facilitator, which provides guarantees to all participants. I've personally met with President Nicolas Maduro, and I know that he is a man who has the will to reach agreements.
But it is clear that if others intend to carry out state coups or attempt to take his life, and also intend not to take part in the elections in order to later condemn them, then it won't be possible to reach an agreement this way.
Sputnik: Your platform is supported by people like journalist Ignacio Ramonet. He came up with the slogan of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2001. "Another world is possible". Back then the left were on the top, they convinced, managed and achieved the goals set forth in the Millennium Declaration. Do you think another Europe is possible?
Javier Couso: We are destined for this. I support this slogan and I am glad that such people support my candidacy. This shows that I advocate non-intervention and integration issues.
We are destined to see a change, because the EU has begun to collapse, because it doesn't meet the interests of its population and pushes it towards the poverty line and unwarranted social cuts.
Either we can do it, or everything will go to hell, and we will return to a European Confederation, which is dominated by the extreme right, or to just separate nation states.