Contributed by Joe Montero
These are strange days indeed. Who would have thought that a delegation form Washington would go to Caracas to discuss resumption of trade with Venezuela? After all, Washington has been bent on what it calls ‘regime change,” has been behind physical attacks to infrastructure, coup and kidnap attempts, economic warfare, and recognises an alternative government led by the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido.
The United States has always wanted to recover Venezuela’s oil. But its strategy was get this result through the objectives of getting rid of President Maduro and putting an end to the Bolivarian project. It has failed.
But what has brought about the sudden change? In addition to the failure of the strategy applied so far, Ukraine has become a priority, linked to expansion across the Eurasian land mass and the ambition of becoming the supplier of oil to Europe. Despite the association between fossil fuels and climate warming, oil continues to be a critical resource, and control over it brings opportunity for penetration into the European economy. Venezuela has around 80 percent of the known world’s oil.
CITGO is the Venezuelan government owned petrol trading company operating the in United States that might be allowed to operate again
This is not the whole explanation. Coming out to the pandemic, which has aggravated the economic and social problems of the United States, the failure of Afghanistan and other wars in its region, economic challenge from China.
Most important of all, is the dependency of the United States has on the export of capital (investment) as the engine driving its economy. The rate of return on this has been in decline for a long time. This is feeding ballooning debt and devaluing the American dollar in the longer-run, and thereby threatening American dominance over the global financial system.
These factors are changing the balance of forces and narrowing the capacity of Washington to manoeuvre.
Although still a formidable force in world affairs, the United States has been weakened considerably and no longer has the dominance it once had. Even with Ukraine, Washington’s hands are tied, and sending the marines into the battle front is impossible.
Washington appears to have decided that pragmatism demands change its Venezuelan policy. While it is by no means certain yet that this shift will materialise, the reality on the ground, is that Nicolas Maduro, his government, and the Bolivarian revolution have consolidated their strength, as was shown in in the regional election results last December. The opposition is fractured, and the largest part of it has now accepted that it must accommodate to this reality.
The change in Venezuela policy is not a surrender. The fact that Washington’s team in Caracas has already brought up the subject of Ukraine and undoubtedly hopes to drive a wedge between the relationship between Venezuela and Russia, shows this is a tactical move. It is certain that conditions will be put forward aimed at securing American interests in Venezuela.
It is primarily the interests of Wall Street that lie behind both the Venezuela policy, the overriding ambition to expand into the Eurasian continent, and counter the Chinese and Russian challenge.
The Maduro government has agreed to talk about an oil trade deal and only about this. Two American prisoners connected to allegations of fraud as executives of the now nationalised oil company Citgo have been released as an act of goodwill. Venezuela has, however, publicly stated its support for Russia. There will be no change in this. There is the hope that an oil trading agreement will lead to opening a gateway towards relaxing other aspects of Washington’s economic and political war against Venezuela.