Tamara Adrián is a lawyer, university professor, and LGBTIQ+ activist who became Venezuela’s first trans lawmaker in 2015. Now, supported by Unidos por la Dignidad, she’s looking to make history again with a presidential bid.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
An article in Nuevo Herald says you certified some loans from the State to PDVSA associated with a corruption scheme. Can you clarify what happened there?
Thanks for that question. I don’t know who tried to take a swing with that headline, because it has nothing to do with the piece. The article refers to the time I was working as a lawyer, and a client consulted me about the legality of a loan operation with PDVSA, where the loans would be paid in USD. I found that an exception in the Law Against Foreign Exchange Crimes exempted PDVSA from the Cadivi regime. That was strictly my opinion. No one has questioned the legality of that operation, which was legal at the time, as was the character of my legal opinion on the matter.
Why would we vote for you for President?
Because my vision is different to that of the rest of the candidates. I know the next presidential election is not competitive, it is more about starting a transition to democracy with everyone’s help. Only broad coalitions can restore democracies, so we can’t go if we are divided. This doesn’t mean that human rights abusers would be the originary participants, but there are examples like Chile, when General Pinochet remained as the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, or Spain, when the transition was led by Adolfo Suarez (a Francoista prime minister). If we want a successful transition to democracy, we need to understand the nature of such coalitions.
Finally, I’m different from any other candidate in my understanding of how specific groups of people are related. How different are the lives of a middle class woman with a college degree, and a woman in Petare who already had two kids when she was 15. Or a disabled person with no studies, and one who went to college. Any development target this country may set for itself must consider the complex diversity of conditions and pursue social inclusion.
Would you take part in a debate with the rest of the candidates?
Of course. It’s precisely a debate where we can reach a consensus about the new Venezuela.
If you’re not chosen as the unitary candidate, would you respect the result and support whoever becomes the candidate?
Of course. I think the Primary Commission must propose a pact to be signed by every candidate, one that establishes that even chavismo shouldn’t be excluded in a coalition for the return of democracy. In this boat there should be space for everyone.
Let’s suppose you win the primaries and later the presidential election, but the CNE declares Maduro the winner. Which would be your strategy to defend the vote and stop fraud?
We need a broad participation of the international community to improve the voting conditions and to fix problems in the electoral registry, district swaps, the unduly migration of voters, the obstacles to the vote of Venezuelans abroad, plus the way fingerprint scanning and public employees are used in the election. All parties must be able to check the registry.
But we’re the majority, so if we reach those conditions, there’s no doubt we will achieve the change of government.
Why did you leave Voluntad Popular, where you were a member for many years?
I’m still linked to Voluntad Popular, my political home.
Which are the ideological foundations of the movement supporting you, Unidos por la Dignidad?
It’s a movement of movements, created to make visible the demands of many sectors demanding rights, under the assumption that human rights are for everyone.
How do you think the opposition can reconnect with the voters?
This matter is the center of my political action. I think politicians and parties must be able to differentiate themselves with their own messages. Nobody will seduce the disappointed chavista or the indifferent or the various oppositions with the same message the opposition parties have been spreading year after year.
Every sector demands a particular form of political discourse, but everyone must know that no Messiah will save the country, and that rebuilding Venezuela needs everyone’s effort.
How do you define yourself, ideologically?
Being so close to the idea of social inclusion all my life, my goal today is to follow the United Nations’ sustainable development objectives. No one must be left behind.
Regarding the economy, I believe in free trade but following an inclusion framework, because without it, it would be deeply unfair. In a country with a poverty rate of at least 85%, private companies must be socially responsible. I would say that my ideology is free trade with social responsibility.
What’s your plan to recover the country’s economy?
Economic recovery is linked to restoring our democracy. We need democratic institutions, public services and social inclusion to rebuild our economy.
Would you require economic aid from the IMF?
Yes. I would offer, in exchange for such aid, a budget covered by effective tax collection, in an economic context of social inclusion.
Would you privatize PDVSA?
PDVSA must remain State-owned, but with private actors taking part in the different stages of the industry, in order to reactivate production.
Must indefinite reelection stay?
No. We could have a presidential period of four years with one reelection, or a 5-year-period with the option of reelection after three more periods. I also think that no one who supports indefinite reelection should run in the primaries.
And the recall referendum?
Yes, though I would change the rules to prevent the abuses we have seen when we have tried to make it happen.
National Assembly or Bicameral Congress?
Promotions in FANB must be approved by the President or the Congress?
By both, through a transparent process that ensures meritocracy.
What’s your stance on decentralization?
I’m a strong believer, especially concerning public services.
Would you keep the current five powers (Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Electoral, and Moral)?
The important thing is to guarantee checks and balances.
In favor or against same sex marriage?
In favor. This should be explained to people, because some think that this undermines their rights, when it’s about granting rights to others. A more egalitarian world is a better world for everyone.
In favor or against adoption by same sex couples?
The idea that kids adopted by same sex couples will end up being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, etc. is insane. Most LGBTI people come from heterosexual parents. This is a prejudice problem, where some people think their ideas are above the rights of children and teens.
In favor or against legalizing marijuana?
Studies show that marijuana is less addictive and has less impact than alcohol. So we must wonder, should we forbid it, or create stores where cannabis is sold, paying taxes like alcohol? While banning marijuana doesn’t impede its use, legalizing it may increase positive tax collection and limit the sale of bad quality cannabis that affects public health. But this logic can’t be applied to harder drugs like cocaine or heroin.
Describe the following individuals with a word or a frase:
A strange populist.
A courageous, constant man.
He had his moment.
Maria Corina Machado?
Courageous, but sometimes excluding.
Out of the picture.
An outsider whose role must be clearer.
A great businessman.
An outsider with an undefined proposal.
The creator of the democratic system.
Marcos Pérez Jiménez?
Carlos Andres Pérez?
Someone who thought he could rule alone.
Let’s not idealize the founders of the nation.
Juan Vicente Gómez?
The one who delayed our introduction to the 20th century.
History is judging him.
How would you like to be remembered as a former president?
As the irreverent person who solved problems.A longer Spanish-version of this interview was originally published in Politiks
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