February 27, 2024

America, Sanctions, and Oil: What Government Doesn’t Have and

Stalled since October of last year, the schedule of dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition in Mexico was aimed at making progress in solving the fundamental problems of Venezuelan political and economic life. Protests and the end of US sanctions against the country.

At the beginning of the year, the government of President Nicolás Maduro expressed its desire to resume the initiative shortly after the visit of the American delegation to Caracas, but four months after the announcement, the dialogue schedule has not yet been established and government and opposition representatives, although they have expressed themselves in a positive way, they are yet to formal negotiations. did not return

In recent months, the resumption of talks has taken on new importance due to the energy emergency threatening the West. The United States and European countries have begun to look to Venezuela as a source of supply for their oil demand, seeking alternatives to Russian fuel hampered by the war in Ukraine. It is in this sense that debates about lifting or at least relaxing the embargo have become fundamental not only for Caracas, but also for the community that imposed such embargoes.

In an interview Brazil indeedthe analyst Ricardo Vaz explains, the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition is actually a negotiation between the Venezuelan and US governments, because “the right-wing opposition is agents of Washington and most of them are there only to account. American support”. As a result, the negotiations are being restarted by the current situation of the Western powers.

“If you look at last year’s merger, when the talks started in the middle of the year, if you think about what has changed since then, we see that it is the external conditions. The Venezuelan government wants to talk to the United States to end the sanctions because the economic recovery will not be sustainable unless the sanctions are lifted. But now, with rising fuel prices and the war in Ukraine, the government’s position in the negotiations is stronger, so it won’t work like it did before,” Vaz said.

The energy crisis prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to send a delegation to Venezuela in March that met with Maduro and other members of the Venezuelan government. The gesture, in addition to marking a sign of reconciliation between Washington and Caracas and a diplomatic setback for the opposition led by former Vice President Juan Quito, served as the first step for the government and opposition to demonstrate in favor of reopening the negotiating table in Mexico. , the country holding talks.

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After the meeting, which was characterized by Venezuela’s president as “respectful, warm and very diplomatic”, Maduro signaled his desire to “renegotiate with all the political and economic actors” in the country. Negotiation Tables, Jorge Rodriguez, gathered In May, a representative of the opposition in conversations called Gerardo Blight. A month later, in June, the two also participated in the Oslo Forum in Norway, but the parties have not met since then.

On the US side, some sanctions were suspended after the first meeting in Caracas, allowing Chevron to return to negotiations with state oil company PDVSA to resume operations in the country. Although it has not publicly pledged to fully lift the blockade against Venezuela, Washington waved to the country again in June this year, when it sent another delegation to Caracas for the second time since earlier this year.

According to Vaz, although the Biden administration has not said so publicly, “there are indications that the White House wants to change its policy on Venezuela because the current strategy is inherited from the Trump administration and does not serve the American people. In the current situation.”

“However, there is a series of internal calculations that the US President has to make in order to take this step, such as the support of Venezuelan voters living in Florida and the opposition of Republicans. The fact is that the current situation favors the position of Caracas, and there is an opinion within the government that the situation will quickly deteriorate for the opposition parties and consequently for the United States,” He said.

Conversation is a side effect of tension

The objectives of the dialogue table and the demands made by the Maduro government are related to the escalation of hostilities that the United States and the Venezuelan right have adopted over the past three years. The White House and sections of the opposition failed to recognize a second term for Maduro, who was re-elected in 2018 and guided by the so-called “maximum pressure policy” implemented by former President Donald Trump.

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In 2019, when he was then Vice-Chancellor, tensions rose Juan Guaidó declared himself president It received full support from the country and the United States. It was during this period that Washington further expanded its economic blockade against Venezuela, mainly hitting the oil industry and causing the worst production and income crisis in the country’s history.

The opposition, led by Guaidó, has consistently sought additional sanctions and support from the United States and neighboring countries for efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government, a strategy that includes everything from coup attempts to hiring mercenaries to invade Venezuela.

In this context, in 2019, the government and the opposition set the first dialogue table with the mediation of Norway, which ended in failure after Washington approved new economic sanctions.

According to Venezuelan sociologist Lirio Reyes, it was during this period that the right-wing opposition supporting Caido’s self-proclamation tried to create some political narrative against Venezuela, saying they would “engage in the struggle to restore democracy and independent justice.” System “.

“This opposition is built on the principles of returning democracy to Venezuela and recovering independent courts, but this narrative is not sustained. Venezuela is one of the most democratic countries in the region, with all the electoral guarantees, but this does not matter to this sector of the opposition, because basically they have no desire to compete in the electoral field, He said.

In 2021, with Biden already in the White House, the government and opposition returned to negotiations, this time mediated by Mexico and Norway. The first MoU was signed in September last year, but talks were suspended a month later when Alex Chapp was extradited to the US. The Venezuelan government, which considers Ambassador Saab to be illegally detained by Interpol in Cape Verde, characterized the move as “kidnapping” and has since put his release among the demands on the negotiating table.

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An end to the blockade and the return of government assets overseas appropriated by the opposition are the main demands of the Savistas. In addition to Bank of England’s Venezuelan gold and the Monomeros fertilizer plant in Colombia, the US-based Cidco refinery network is owned by PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Since 2017, the company has been subject to sanctions, but after Guaidó’s self-declaration it was controlled by opponents with the approval of a US court. The company is valued at $8 billion. During the years it was controlled by the opposition, it threatened to be sold to settle PDVSA’s debts with international creditors.

Due to the energy crisis, “a certain exchange with Citco will be allowed because Venezuela has refineries designed for extra heavy oil,” says Vaz, but believes the company is unlikely to fully return to Venezuela. .

“There could be a very limited sanctions relief agreement that would allow Cidco to buy or receive Venezuelan oil, maybe switch to gasoline, but I think that would be done in a very timely and isolated manner. I find it difficult for Cidco to return to the state of Venezuela in this situation,” he said.

Guaidó’s decline: How is the opposition?

Former Vice President Juan Guaido has been losing more and more international support and from the Venezuelan right as he has been trying to build a fictitious presidency for more than three years. In addition to sending delegations to talk directly with Maduro, the right-wing Biden would lose support from Colombia, which was one of his key regional allies during the Ivan Duque government. President-elect Gustavo Pedro will take office on August 7 and has already promised to re-establish ties with the Venezuelan government.

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Among the opposition parties, internal disputes and allegations of corruption related to control of assets abroad are highlighted, with some sectors questioning the former deputy leadership.

Quito’s recent trajectory, marked by scandals and an unconditional alignment with the United States, is finding rejection among voters. According to a survey conducted by the company in July Delphi, more than 55% of those interviewed said they “don’t have it” or “don’t know” who the opposition leader is in Venezuela. Additionally, according to the same survey, more than 64% of respondents were against the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and encouraged by Guaidó.

According to Reyes, the current energy emergency the US is experiencing should draw even more strength from the Venezuelan right-wing sector, and the trend is that “resistance will continue to appear less and less”.

“The political conflict that has developed in Venezuela is between the country and the United States. “Because this political arena is a kind of puppet of Washington’s intentions, we have not been fighting the opposition for years, which ultimately wants to seize resources, gold, water and oil,” he said.

Editing: Arturo Hartmann