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Current Affairs

US-Venezuela ties

Date: 11 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

US officials have made a visit to Venezuela to meet delegates of President Nicholas Maduro.

 

Background

Venezuela is an ally of Russia and it has also expressed its support for Moscow’s action in Ukraine.

 

Details

  • It was the first high-level discussion between Venezuela and the US in the last five years, after ties between the two countries turned from bad to worse.

  • The US has been claiming that the last election, in which Nicholas Maduro won again, was not free and fair.

 

Current status of ties

The US recognises Interim President Juan Guaido, who is the opposition leader. The Venezuelan National Assembly is only the legitimate federal institution that US recognises.

 

Significance of meeting

  • Maduro has been supporting Russian President on his Ukraine campaign. Russia has also been supporting Maduro since his tenure.

  • Apart from Russia, Maduro gets support from Iran, Cuba, China and Turkey. The western bloc supports Juan Guaido.

  • Venezuela is very important for Russia to get a foothold in Western hemisphere. It can get back its super-power status and give US the taste of its own medicine.

  • The meeting between US officials and Venezuela is seen as an effort to isolate Russia and separate it from its Latin American allies.

  • There is also a possibility of easing US sanctions on importing oil from Venezuela in case the US bans oil from Russia.

 

Venezuela politics

  • Nicholas Maduro became the president in 2013 after the death of former president Hugo Chávez.

  • The second term of Maduro, which started in 2019, is seen as illegitimate by western bloc. They support rival candidate Guaido.

 

Relations between US and Venezuela

  • The economy of Venezuela started to decline following reduction in commodity value of crude oil.

  • The over-investment in social welfare virtually destroyed open competition. The resources were controlled by the state.

  • After crude oil prices fell to lowest, the debts of the government widened. Now it remains one of Latin America’s poorest countries.

 

Degradation of ties

  • The historical close ties between major oil producer Venezuela and consumer US degraded after the rise of Hugo Chavez.

  • The US accused Chavez government of undermining human rights and freedom of expression. It also said that there were crackdowns on the opposition, media and civil society.

  • The US has resorted to sanctions on Venezuela and several influential officials. They have revoked visas and strangled their revenues.