In a short amount of time, a series of events took place, centered around Venezuela, which from a political point of view have the elements of a melodrama with a hint of comedy. It all began when a plane left Washington, passing through Miami and ended its journey at the international airport of Maiquetía (La Guaira), where a delegation of US officials was reportedly received by the Venezuelan government.
The visit, unprecedented within the context of hostilities and diplomatic disagreements, was a sort of “effort” on the part of the US to breakdown the Russian–Venezuelan relationship. As reported by the New York Times, the government of Nicolás Maduro “could begin to see Mr. Putin as an increasingly weak ally”.
Beyond the laughter that such a Manichean and contextually unaware objective could provoke, what must be emphasized is the primary motivation of the meeting between high-level officials of the Biden administration and the Venezuelan executive: oil trade.
In 2019, Donald Trump’s government tightened the financial blockade against Venezuela in the form of an energy embargo, stealing Citgo and Venezuelan state money to transfer it into the hands of professional thugs (call it the “Guaidosian interim” or the Federal Reserve). When PDVSA products no longer had a place in the US market; Russian companies filled the space that had been denied to the Bolivarian Republic.
Now that Joe Biden’s administration has decided to unleash a full-scale economic-financial war against the Russian Federation, which has been ongoing since 2014, US energy interests are at risk. The US is at a key political crossroads with high domestic inflation and upcoming legislative elections in November. Consequently, US top policy makers have decided to knock on Caracas’ door.
In fact, it seemed more like Washington wanted to kick it in. Reuters reports, which should always be handled with extreme caution (along with other media in the hegemonic Anglosphere), state that “Washington sought guarantees of free presidential elections, sweeping reforms of Venezuela’s oil industry to facilitate production and exports by foreign companies and the regime’s public condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine”.
It can be expected that the Bolivarian Government would agree to allow US and European companies to invest in its national oil industry, as Maduro himself has repeatedly pointed out and according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal. However, for Venezuela to turn its back on a strategic ally of the Global South such as Russia seems laughable after all the aggressions committed by the West against our respective countries over the years.
Indeed, the government of Vladimir Putin has been instrumental in counteracting the “maximum pressure” strategy perpetrated by the North American establishment. The Russian Federation has provided oxygen to the Venezuelan economy and trade in the Eurasian area of influence in the face of the full-spectrum blockade maintained by Washington, including the veto on the use of the SWIFT system.
Venezuela is not willing to commit strategic and political suicide by reneging on cooperation with Russia, having the same aggressors on the opposite side of the street and sharing interests that have nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with the existential. The US multilateral offensive against the two countries has strengthened the ties we already shared. Solidarity and mutual support has been a reciprocal state policy in basically all scenarios of multipolar construction and crisis.
Regarding the “electoral guarantees”, even the colonial European Union (EU) agrees that the results of the past mega-elections in Venezuela were legitimate. The EU even remarked on how the representative composition of the current National Electoral Council (CNE) is in accordance with the institutional requirements of any democracy, even a weak one such as that of European countries tied to the interests of NATO.
But the tragicomic arrogance of the Biden administration becomes more evident if we place the spotlight on the characters who, according to the Washington Post, are said to have visited the Miraflores Palace.
– Roger Cartens, a former lieutenant colonel of the US Army Special Forces who participated in the 1989 invasion of Panama (where there were more civilian than military deaths), and who serves as hostage negotiator for the State Department, was once again in Caracas with the intention of securing the release of the so-called “Citgo 6”.
– Juan Gonzalez, senior director of the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, who recently stated that the recent “sanctions” against Russia were also designed to target Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Biden advisor: U.S. sanctions against Russia are 'designed' to impact Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. pic.twitter.com/Zbqg3mgB2N
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) February 26, 2022
– James Story, “ambassador for the US External Office for Venezuela” based in Bogotá, a political operator who usually meets in his Colombian residence with the main actors of the Venezuelan coup to plan further destabilizing actions against the Republic.
Choosing these officials to represent the US in negotiations is a blunder in light of their professional profiles, recent actions, statements, and the bitterness they unleashed against the Venezuelan authorities. It was not for nothing that New York and Washington media were preparing the ground for the meeting to take place, knowing that the demands bordered on the extreme.
It is quite possible that the window for negotiation will remain open, with further dialogue in Mexico in a perhaps not so distant future. The channels between the US and Venezuelan governments have been opened while the relevance of that fantasy called “Guaidó’s provisional presidency” is sinking to the bottom of the political ocean.
However, Washington’s prerogatives are unfulfillable and bordering on the absurd. They have no basis in the current geopolitical reality, especially if we take into account how Venezuela flatly rejects the latest version of the “night of broken glass” in the West with extreme Russophobia that to a certain degree, Venezuelans have already experienced in areas of US influence.
And despite the unilateral aggression, the economic forecasts of institutions and personalities that cannot even be remotely classified as Chavistas, such as the IMF and ECLAC, there has been a positive growth of the GDP, that is, an increase in the productive capacity of the country. It certainly cannot be said that we are on the track towards economic independence and stability. Yet we are overcoming many difficulties, with or without the lifting of the oil embargo, or the admission of licenses by the Treasury Department.
After all, the gringa delegation came to Caracas, and not the other way around. The (political) ball is in the North American court, although it seems that they do not want to take advantage of it.
If Biden signs the decree that would end up prohibiting imports of Russian oil to the United States, without accessing other energy markets related to his strategic interests, those who are going to pay (very) dearly are ordinary American citizens, and it is very likely they may blame the Democratic Party in midterm elections. In that sense, Washington would be shooting itself in the foot politically, stabbing a deep wound into its economy at the same time that its unilateral hegemony is going to sh-t, even as its hubris remains intact.
US officials have no choice but to fall into a constant state of excess, maintaining a coherence in their anti-diplomatic behavior that is only analogous to the mythical image of Nero when he decided to drink wine and play his lyre while, in the distance, he watched the flames frolic over the city of Rome. History remembers him as a maniac blinded by his own complacency, typical of artists who are not very talented.
Ernesto Cazal is a reporter with Misión Verdad, where this article was originally published.