Venezuela

‘We have to stop this crisis,’ says Venezuela’s interim first lady, wife of Juan Guaidó

Trump welcomes Guaidó’s wife to White House

The wife of Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó, Fabiana Rosales, was welcomed at the White House on March 27, 2019 as she rallies international support for her husband and the ouster of Nicolás Maduro.
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The wife of Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó, Fabiana Rosales, was welcomed at the White House on March 27, 2019 as she rallies international support for her husband and the ouster of Nicolás Maduro.

She and her husband could be arrested at any given moment, as has already happened to a family member and a close friend.

But Fabiana Rosales says the greatest anguish she has felt since her husband Juan Guaidó took on the role of interim president of Venezuela is the fear that freedom could come too late for many Venezuelans.

“The thing that has been most difficult [to deal with], is maybe, the feeling of being late,” Rosales said Saturday in an interview with el Nuevo Herald. “We have to stop this crisis today. We have to stop the slaughter of children today. We have to stop our elderly population from turning to suicide as the only way out” of Venezuela’s economic collapse.

The sense of responsibility that came with the historic role they were forced to assume in January has become the dominant feeling for the couple, Rosales said. In the battle they are in, there is no room for fear; too many lives are at stake, she said.

Rosales, 26, was in Miami over the weekend after meeting in Washington with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton to advocate for continued support on behalf of the Venezuelan people so that can break free from a regime that has turned one of the most prosperous Latin American nations into one of extreme poverty.

And like the rise of her husband to the presidency, the meeting with Trump at the White House also was totally unexpected. Officials escorted her into a room and she found herself in the Oval Office, she said.

THE MESSAGE

Rosales — a plain-spoken, friendly, confident yet casual lady, said she took advantage of her meeting in Washington to explain the ordeal most Venezuelans are going through under the Nicolás Maduro regime.

That’s what she has been during her recent international tour: voicing the messages from thousands of compatriots who blame the regime for having to flee and take refuge at shelters in other countries, go to bed hungry or are on the verge of death at a Venezuelan hospital because of the lack of medicine and the country’s continuing massive power outages.

They are all victims of a growing crisis that began years ago, Rosales said. She is a victim as well. Her father, Carlos Rosales, died in 2013 due to lack of medical supplies. The same thing happened in February with her beloved 10-year-old cousin, Jorge Andrés.

“He had a special condition, he needed blood transfusions, which could not be done... Searching for his medicine became a scavenger hunt. It was like searching for a treasure. We did all we could to find it, but two days before the first shipment of humanitarian could arrive, he died,” Rosales said.

“When... he died that February 25, I felt that help came in too late and wondered if there was something I had failed to do to prevent it from happening,” she added.

The fear that the end of the nightmare could come too late for many Venezuelans is a burden that she always carries, she said.

It was present just recently when she accompanied a team that brought medical supplies to a hospital and when she returned a few days later and saw there were children missing because they had died.

“Then you ask yourself again, ‘what else could have been done?,’” Rosales said.

THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENCY

Although Guaidó was a member of Venezuela’s oppositon-led National Assembly and both Rosales and her husband have been active with their party, Voluntad Popular, the couple was not at the forefront of the Venezuelan opposition movement.

Rosales said she could go unnoticed when she left her house, without anyone recognizing her, even as of December, when the couple was beginning to talk about the possibility of Guaidó assuming the interim presidency of Venezuela.

Everything changed once he swore himself in as interim president on Jan. 23. It was an act deemed legal under the Constitution because he also serves as president of the National Assembly — a post he reached given that top members of his party are in either in prison or in exile. When Guaidó took the oath, the legislative body had ruled that Maduro held the presidency illegally due to fraudulent elections.

Life took a dramatic turn after Jan. 23 but not because the couple’s existence had any traces of normalcy.

That ceased to exist in Venezuela long ago, Rosales said, noting that the lives of most Venezuelans has been severally altered by the crisis for many years.

“It has been a long time since I could have a cup of coffee with a friend. They have either left the country or they have died,” she said. “I have not been able to go to a park with my daughter. I do not go to parks because in Venezuela there are no places for children to play. A single mom going out with a baby puts them at risk.”

LIVING UNDER CONSTANT THREAT

Guaidó’s presidency is a bold slap to Maduro’s face that threatens his power, given that the interim president has been recognized by the United States and 53 other countries.

But it is also a move that places Guaidó and those close to him at risk.

Last week, the Maduro regime arrested one of Guaidó´s closest friends and aid, his Chief of Staff Roberto Marrero, on charges of terrorism. They also arrested a cousin of his mother while threatening to the same with one of the young leader’s brother.

Of course both Guaidó and his wife are also at risk.

Rosales said that Maduro officials have already threatened to put Guaidó in prison and have even threatened to kill him.

The arrests made so far and the threats form part of an attempt to frighten her husband into abandoning the fight, Rosales said.

“But they chose the wrong people,” to mess with, she said, claiming that the persecution has only served to strengthen their resolve.

“I ask God every day to help me. Every time I wake up I see Miranda (her daughter),who is probably jumping on the bed and I see that smile of innocence and I tell myself that it is worth it. It’s worth it for our children,” she said.

“And I ask God to help me move forward,” she added, “not let anything distract me from the objectives. To give me strength, to give strength to all Venezuelans so that we can continue with this path we have taken. And to not let anything get us off track.”

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