Novelist Isabel Allende Gives Her Thoughts on Venezuela

While the Venezuelan crisis continues, Latin America is no stranger to political upheaval, as renowned novelist Isabel Allende knows all too well. Her godfather and cousin, Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende, was deposed in a US-backed coup in 1973. She fled to Venezuela where she would live for more than a decade. She discusses her incredible life and vantage point.

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ISABEL ALLENDE, NOVELIST: I, first of all, would like to say that an American intervention in Venezuela when I would be disastrous. America — the United States has intervened in Central America, in several countries, in South America and in other parts in the world also. The foreign policy of the United States is aggressive and it’s ignorant. They don’t know the culture of each country and they think in terms of empire, in terms of dominance, in terms of greed, of take whatever they can from each one of the countries. My country suffered Chile suffered the intervention during the time of the Cold War, which doesn’t justify an intervention today anymore. And at that time, the idea was that Chile was within the sphere of influence of the United States. And so, any leftist movement had to be destroyed, as it did in the rest of Latin America and Central America. So, we had a socialist government, a democratically elected socialist government, there was a coalition of participate the center on the left with Salvador Allende as President. From the very beginning of the election, as soon it was hinted that Allende could win, the United States and to intervene, and the CIA had if strong presence in the embassy in Santiago. And from the very beginning, they started to promote an economic and social and political crisis that would destroy the government. When that was not possible after three years of government, then they provoked a military coup and they supported it. We have 17 years of dictatorship after that.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed you did. And I wonder whether you see something similar unfolding in Venezuela all these decades later with a leftist socialist populist government since Chavez and now, under Maduro and the United States intervening.

ALLENDE: Again, in — now is not the time. When this happened in the 70s in Chile and in the 80s in Central America, the country was — the world was divided between two spheres of influence, the United States and the Soviet Union, that’s not the case anymore. What would justify an American intervention in Venezuela except for the fact that they want their oil. They don’t want Iran or China to control the oil.

AMANPOUR: Isabel Allende, let me just play devil’s advocate for a moment. Because right now, there is no plan, that we know of, for anything other than supporting Guaido and dropping humanitarian aid. I know there’s all these theories and worries about what might follow. But isn’t it true that, you know, Chavismo and the — and now, Maduro, they kind of betrayed democracy in Venezuela.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with historian Miguel Tinker Salas and novelist Isabel Allende about the crisis in Venezuela; and Talal Derki about his film “Of Fathers and Sons.” Hari Sreenivasan speaks with philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy about America’s abdication of its traditional leadership role.