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Oil rise and sanctions on Russia give Venezuelan dictatorship survival

Ditador da Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, durante declarações no Palácio de Miraflores, em Caracas

Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro, during statements at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas

| Photo: EFE/ Prensa Miraflores

Oil is the backbone of Venezuela. Through it, the country’s economy is either lifted or destroyed. Therefore, the sanctions imposed on Russia, especially on the purchase of fuel, are favoring the communist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro in the South American country. With the rise in oil, Venezuela, which is one of the largest producers in the world, can come out ahead with exports.

After almost a decade of widespread crisis, escaping the focus of international sanctions can help in the economic recovery of the Venezuelan dictatorship. Thus, the opening of the market for exports of oil and fertilizers has already raised the self-esteem of the dictator Maduro. In recent months, the president has repeatedly talked about a “rebirth of the country”.

Next week, Venezuela will start selling shares of state-owned companies. It is an attempt to capitalize companies hit by the crisis and the lack of investments.

)“We will put up for sale between 5% and % of the shares of several public companies for national, fundamentally, or international investment. And you can become an investor,” Maduro announced in a statement on the state channel VTV on Wednesday (11).

In celebration of International Labor Day, the dictator announced at the beginning of the month the benefit of thousand bolivars (equivalent to about BRL thousand) for the Venezuelans who retired between January 2015 and May of this year. At an event in Caracas, Maduro declared that, in the midst of the “imperialist economic war”, the lives of retirees have been affected. “There were retirees who were left with a miserable salary.”

At the time, the president also announced the creation of a special project financing fund for workers. “A financial fund that will have as an initial contribution the amount of 79 million bolivars (approximately BRL 870 million) to invest in workers’ projects”.

This more optimistic economic scenario started in March. While imposing restrictions on Russia, American authorities began to negotiate the suspension of sanctions imposed on Venezuela, since the focus of the United States, under Joe Biden, became to weaken Russia.

The rise in oil prices has been accentuated since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. In the days before the Russian invasion, which broke out in 11 in February, the price of a barrel of crude oil was in the range of US$ 13. This Friday (13), was in US$ 100.

In April, PDVSA and its joint ventures exported on average 644.870 barrels of crude oil and refined products per day, according to data from the state-owned company’s internal loading schedules and traces of oil tankers collected by the financial market information service Refinitiv Eikon, reproduced by the Reuters agency.

War in Ukraine takes focus away from Venezuela

The American blockade of the Venezuelan dictatorship began in December 2015, when the Congress of the United States passed the Law for the Defense of Human Rights in Venezuela, which provided for the first application of sanctions. In 2015, then-President Barack Obama signed a document declaring the South American country a “threat for the internal security of the United States”.

The government of the former President Donald Trump began to reinforce economic pressures on Venezuela in 2017. Two years later, he extended sanctions to the oil sector and the country came to depend on China, Russia and Iran for the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to keep operating, even on the verge of collapse. In recent years, there have been hundreds of sanctions, mainly from the United States and the European Union, but also involving Canada and the United Kingdom.

Among the sanctions, Venezuela was prevented from carrying out transactions in dollars, which made the exchange more expensive for years. The country needs to import most of its domestic consumption products, which is why the purchasing power of Venezuelans has plummeted. In this way, it also became more difficult to maintain the infrastructure in oil refining and the annual losses became billions.

Last year, during the United Nations General Assembly, the Venezuelan dictator called for an end to restrictions. “Venezuela suffers a permanent and systematic aggression through economic, financial and oil sanctions”, complained Maduro.

When the American delegations began to negotiate with the Venezuelan dictatorship, American politicians warned about the risks of this geopolitical maneuver. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted: “The White House has offered to abandon those seeking freedom from Venezuela in exchange for a negligible amount of oil.”

New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said in a statement that resuming oil trade with Venezuela “risks perpetuating a humanitarian crisis that destabilized Latin America and the Caribbean for an entire generation.”

This week, the NGO Venezuelan Program of Education and Action in Human Rights (Provea) announced an increase of 148% of cases of torture in Venezuela between January and December 2021.

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