Author Topic: Venezuela  (Read 309613 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #650 on: March 31, 2023, 12:06:37 PM »
March 31, 2023
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Colombia’s Interest in Ending the Venezuelan Crisis
Resolution of the crisis could improve Bogota’s regional standing.
By: Allison Fedirka

Venezuelans will have an opportunity to resolve their country’s political crisis during the 2024 presidential election. However, several things would need to go right. The Colombian government is hard at work to make sure that they do.

Colombia has a fundamental interest in Venezuela’s stability and economic well-being. Declining living conditions in Venezuela have sparked a mass emigration to Colombia, or through it en route to other destinations. At immense financial, administrative and security costs to itself, Colombia, a country with a population of a little over 50 million, hosts nearly 2.5 million Venezuelans. Others enter Colombia to buy cheaper goods, which they then consume or resell in Venezuela, leading to shortages of some goods in border towns. And the pervasive lawlessness has propped up Colombian militant groups, most notably the National Liberation Army (ELN).

At the same time, Colombia wants to reap the rewards of being Washington’s preferred partner in the U.S.’ Caribbean strategy. Bogota worries that a U.S.-Venezuela rapprochement would divert U.S. aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Venezuela, while private investors could sideline Colombia for new opportunities across the border.

To ensure that it has a place at the table, Colombia is positioning itself as a regional leader and the protector of other Latin American states impacted by the Venezuelan crisis. When President Gustavo Petro took office last year, he immediately restored diplomatic ties with Venezuela, opening a direct line to the Maduro government. He plans to host a meeting in April of U.S., Latin American and European officials to discuss Venezuela, with the goal of establishing a working group to outline a technical and political roadmap for sanctions relief. Informally, Washington has said it will attend the event, which it has helped coordinate.

The end goal is to get the Venezuelan government and opposition back to the negotiating table so that they can agree on how to conduct next year’s elections and end the political gridlock. Previous talks in Mexico stalled after both sides insisted on preconditions. The Maduro government (and the opposition) wanted the lifting of sanctions on the state oil company, PDVSA, which Washington rejected. The opposition demanded that the government release political prisoners and hold fair elections. Colombia is offering itself as an interlocutor that can break the stalemate. It understands the importance of getting U.S. and European buy-in for a reset, since they will need to recognize the legitimacy of any election and they will be critical sources of investment for Venezuela’s reconstruction.

Colombia also stands to improve its standing with other South American countries hosting Venezuelan refugees. Colombia has been hardest hit, but others have also incurred extra expenses from providing for the influx of refugees and migrants. Despite their best efforts, Latin American governments have not received significant funding from international organizations to help with the refugee and migrant flow. The crisis has also damaged some bilateral relationships, such as between Peru and Ecuador, and Chile and Bolivia. If Colombia can claim credit for helping to resolve the Venezuelan crisis, and ending the migration problem, then its reputation among its neighbors will get a boost.

Venezuelan Immigrants in Latin America
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Historic Migration Episodes
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There are also signs that Bogota is working to link the Colombian and Venezuelan energy sectors. This would ensure Colombia’s direct involvement in reconstruction efforts and keep it from being completely bypassed for future investments. Both governments have recently talked about the need to boost natural gas production, where energy-rich Venezuela has a key role to play. Colombia’s Ecopetrol has asked the U.S. to waive sanctions to allow it to negotiate with PDVSA. Colombia is also studying purchases of gas from Venezuela and considering buying the Monomeros fertilizer plant from PDVSA. Finally, Ecopetrol also has an advisory contract to export and distribute natural gas from Colombia. In the past, Venezuela was a major oil supplier to Central American and Caribbean nations heavily dependent on energy imports. Though it will take years and billions of dollars in investment to restore Venezuela’s oil and gas production potential, now is the time to start envisioning such projects.

Venezuela's Crude Oil Production and Exports
(click to enlarge)

For its part, the Maduro government has taken some steps to justify the lifting of oil sanctions. Earlier in March, the government announced that it had uncovered a major corruption scandal involving the disappearance of between $3 billion and $5 billion from PDVSA. The sum represented 12 percent of 2022 revenue and led to the dismissal of several officials, as well as the resignation of Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami. President Nicolas Maduro immediately ordered PDVSA’s restructuring and announced the reorganization of the country's National Superintendence of Cryptoassets. In addition to needing all the funding it can get, the Maduro government is eager to portray itself as trustworthy and transparent so that sanctions might be eased.

Colombia’s intentions and strategy are clear, but execution requires it to overcome two main challenges that are beyond its control. First, it needs Venezuela to reduce its involvement with rebel groups like the ELN. This is hard for Caracas to do, given the financial and strategic benefits of the relationships. Second, it needs the U.S. to agree to lift sanctions. On March 27, Colombian Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to coordinate plans related to the upcoming summit on Venezuela. (He also said that Colombia would not pull any surprises and that Maduro may be present.) Some members of the U.S. government remain skeptical of the Colombian strategy given the ELN’s relationship with drug trafficking and the Maduro regime, while others said sanctions will be lifted only once democracy is restored in Venezuela. In any case, Colombia is setting itself up to lead the crisis resolution effort, and it stands to reap economic benefits associated with Venezuela’s eventual reconstruction.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Venezuela-Iran
« Reply #651 on: June 16, 2023, 03:46:44 PM »
Allies. Iran and Venezuela signed 19 agreements on mining, petrochemistry, transport and agro-industry during Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to Caracas. Raisi is on a tour of Latin America that will also include stops in Nicaragua and Cuba. 

Crafty_Dog

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MY: Venezuela-Guyana
« Reply #652 on: December 03, 2023, 06:33:07 AM »

ccp

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Guyana
« Reply #653 on: December 03, 2023, 09:05:38 AM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guyana

interesting only ~ 800K population one of the least populated on Earth

official language is English

reading through the Wikipedia just noticed the libs will
point out :

don't say gay in Guyana!

border dispute is mentioned in the Wikipedia info.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2023, 09:15:59 AM by ccp »


Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Venezuela breaks another promise
« Reply #655 on: December 04, 2023, 09:42:53 AM »
second

enezuela Breaks Another Promise
It misses a deadline to release prisoners and reinstate the opposition under a deal that eased U.S. sanctions.
By
The Editorial Board
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Dec. 3, 2023 6:11 pm ET




Well, that was predictable. On Nov. 30 the Maduro regime in Venezuela ignored the U.S. deadline to lay out a process to reinstate opposition candidates for a 2024 presidential election. Will the Biden Administration take it lying down?

In return for that Maduro promise, made Oct. 17 with the democratic opposition, the Biden Administration eased sanctions for six months on the export of Venezuelan oil and new investment in the country. The U.S. also lifted bans on dealing with the government-owned mining company and on trading some Venezuelan securities.

At the time Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. had “conveyed our expectation and understanding that” by Nov. 30 Venezuela would “define a specific timeline and process for the expedited reinstatement of all candidates” who had been banned from running. He added that opposition candidates had the right to run on “a level electoral playing field” that includes “freedom of movement” and guarantees of “their physical safety.”

He also said that Venezuela had to “begin the release of all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals and Venezuelan political prisoners.” Mr. Blinken warned that “failure to abide by the terms of this arrangement will lead the United States to reverse steps we have taken.”

The Blinken deadline passed on Thursday. Venezuela released five political prisoners in October but it still holds some 270, including three Americans that the State Department deems wrongfully detained. The regime also hasn’t reinstated banned presidential candidates, including the popular Maria Corina Machado.

Instead, on Thursday the Maduro government issued a statement, along with the official opposition, that instructed banned candidates to solicit the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 for a reversal of the prohibition on their right to run. The regime’s statement reminded applicants that they are censored and must not be disrespectful toward the state.

The weak opposition may feel it has no choice other than to go along with this game-playing by Mr. Maduro. But the U.S. has no such excuse. The State Department statement late Friday called sending banned candidates to beseech a politicized court “an important development,” without elaboration. The statement said it is “deeply concerned” by the regime’s failure to release prisoners, and it promised to say more in the coming days.

But there have to be consequences for the regime’s failure to meet its commitments. Venezuelan democrats deserve better than more statements in the coming days.



Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Venezuela covets Guyana's oil
« Reply #656 on: December 04, 2023, 09:46:16 AM »
third

Venezuela Covets Guyana’s Oil Fields
Would Biden stop the Maduro regime from invading a much weaker neighbor?
Mary Anastasia O’Grady
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady


Sunday’s referendum in Venezuela asked the electorate if it agrees that two-thirds of Guyana actually belongs to Venezuela. The dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro sought a “yes” vote and thought it had a lay-up.

Guyana was a British colony in 1899 when a Paris tribunal ratified its dominion over the Essequibo region. Caracas has long disputed the ruling. From early childhood Venezuelans marinate in the doctrine that the land was stolen from them. So approval on all five referendum questions—including one that proposed the creation of a new Venezuelan state—was the heavy favorite.

Late Sunday morning, the regime claimed robust turnout; by afternoon, the opposition posted photos of empty polling stations and reported high abstention. As we went to press, official results weren’t in. But it almost doesn’t matter. The failing Mr. Maduro seems intent on picking a fight with a neighbor. The only questions are how far he will go and what it will cost him.

The referendum was a call to Venezuelans to rally ’round the flag, which is the oldest trick in the tyrant’s manual for what to do when things are going badly. And they are.

The economy has collapsed since Mr. Maduro took office in 2013. Venezuelan living standards, once the envy of South America, are in the tank. Some 7.5 million people, or a quarter of the population, have emigrated, tearing families apart. Pressure is increasing on the dictatorship to lift the ban on the 2024 presidential candidacy of popular opposition leader Maria Corina Machado.

The other reason Mr. Maduro held the referendum is that the disputed Guyanese land corresponds to what is believed to be enormous oil reserves off its coast. Venezuela’s incompetence and corruption mean it can’t even extract the oil it has within its own borders. But Mr. Maduro sees the nation next door getting rich and reflexively needs to object. Envy, after all, is the mother of communism.

In 2015 Exxon Mobil made the first crude discovery in the Stabroek Block in Guyanese waters. The “gross recoverable resource,” according to the company, “is now estimated to be more than eight billion oil equivalent barrels” from more than a dozen successful wells. In all there are an estimated 11 billion oil equivalent barrels in Guyanese waters, and at least five other international oil companies are working in the area.

In September Guyana received bids for exploration and exploitation of eight new blocks. But unlike the existing wells, where Exxon, its partners, and some competitors are already bringing up crude, the oil resources in the recently auctioned blocks are off the coast of the Essequibo region. Mr. Maduro wants them.

In 1966 Venezuela and Guyana agreed to disagree about the territory in the Geneva Agreement. In March 2018 the United Nations used the authority provided by that accord to assign the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which is expected to rule on the matter early next year.


Sunday’s referendum suggests that Venezuela, which more than once has asserted that the court has no jurisdiction to rule on the dispute, doesn’t like its odds and is prepared to take matters into its own hands. Last week a token number of Venezuelan military were rumored to have moved close to the border. Brazil put its military on high alert in the region. U.S. Army special forces leadership met with its Guyanese counterparts last week, but U.S. Southern Command declined to comment on Friday. The State Department didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The invasion of the Falkland Islands might have bought unpopular Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri some support in 1982—if British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hadn’t been so determined to wave the Union Jack.

Perhaps Mr. Maduro has that Galtieri adventure in mind since there is no Thatcher equivalent these days. Deterrence, particularly from the U.S., seems to be lacking.

Military aggression against a smaller sovereign nation won’t go over well, even among the usual Maduro allies. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacío “Lula” da Silva is a supporter of both the Cuban and Venezuelan military dictatorships. But he’s also an advocate of the peaceful resolution of cross-border disputes using international courts.

Nor can Mr. Maduro count on Havana to back him. Cuba has long leaned on the English-speaking Caribbean for support at the U.N. and in other international forums. Their first allegiance is to Guyana. Even China, which is making oil investments in Guyanese waters, doesn’t want an invasion.

Finally, one of the most important tests of jurisdiction is the self-determination of the local population. It’s unlikely that the Guyanese living in the Essequibo want to become Venezuelans.

Yet despite widespread disapproval of what the world seems to have already judged as a provocation against a peaceful neighbor, it would be unwise to underestimate the desperation building up in Caracas. If Mr. Maduro finds he has painted himself into a corner, desperate measures won’t be out of the question. Cuba, Brazil and China are unlikely to stand on principle.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.

DougMacG

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Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Venezuela-Gyuana-US
« Reply #658 on: December 18, 2023, 06:46:31 AM »
December 18, 2023
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A Border Dispute Pits US Interests Against Each Other
The repercussions from the Guyana-Venezuela standoff will be hemispheric.
By: Allison Fedirka
The leaders of Venezuela and Guyana met on Dec. 14 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for talks meant to ease tensions along their shared border. Though the rhetoric was pleasant enough, the talks did little to improve their respective security postures. The Venezuelan legislature did, however, delay the approval of a law that would annex Esequiba, the resource-rich territory that is the source of the current standoff.

The dispute itself is hardly new. It dates back to the 1897 Treaty of Washington, which initially demarcated Venezuela’s and Guyana’s borders. (The boundaries wouldn’t be finalized until 1899.) In 1962, Venezuela stopped recognizing the border and asserted new territorial claims. The International Court of Justice is hearing those claims, but Caracas has said it would not honor any court decision that sides with Guyana. For Venezuela, this isn’t just a matter of national pride; it’s a geostrategic issue that could make or break the country’s direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and provide much-needed oil revenue to the government.

Guyana's Disputed Resources

(click to enlarge)

Even so, there are other factors that gave Caracas a new sense of urgency. President Nicolas Maduro is in talks with the United States and his own political opposition over democratic concessions that would weaken his hold on power but would, in theory, help the country through a longstanding political deadlock and revive its stagnant economy. The Esequiba issue is a way Maduro can improve his negotiating position by trumping up national interest without vilifying the United States and without violating the terms of the Barbados Accord, which laid the groundwork for elections in 2024. Adhering to the accord will go a long way toward the continued easing of U.S. sanctions. Washington has been easing sanctions against Venezuela for over a year now, and the results are starting to show in the country’s oil industry; the government has seen notable gains in production levels and revenue from export sales. This is why, on Dec. 3, Venezuela held a non-binding referendum that reasserted its sovereignty over Esequiba.



(click to enlarge)



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Venezuela’s claim is also meant to remind the U.S. of its long-term business interests in Venezuela. The complaint emphasizes an agreement between Guyana and Exxon Mobile for oil exploration and production in the Stabroek block, which is believed to be one of the most promising offshore areas but parts of which fall directly off the coast of disputed territories. Guyana has been awarding concessions and accepting bids in waters that have not been established as its own. The government was able to continue so long as Venezuela didn’t challenge it. Guyanese crude production has increased, and exploration investments are expected to rise after the latest licensing round for eight offshore blocks. Put simply, Caracas knows that instability and uncertainty will threaten the bottom lines of Guyana and the U.S. companies it does business with.

Meanwhile, the Maduro government has approached Western energy companies to recommence operations at dormant offshore natural gas projects and exploration for new blocks on the Deltana Platform, near its maritime border with Guyana. These companies include BP, Chevron and Melbana Energy. Other potential candidates include Repsol, Eni and Maurel & Prom. Venezuelan officials have also traveled to Moscow, almost certainly to discuss energy trade and cooperation.

The signal is clear: While Maduro is open to working with the West, he isn’t afraid to pressure U.S. companies, nor is he unwilling to work with Russia. All of this has put the U.S. in a complicated position.

The Venezuela-Guyana border standoff also pits one U.S. interest against another. On the one hand, Washington wants to compel a political transition in Venezuela. Its end goal is to install a new and preferably pro-U.S. government in Caracas, stabilize the country to stem the flow of immigrants and create a safe economy for Western energy investment. Achieving all these goals would directly or indirectly help create a more secure Western Hemisphere for the United States.

On the other hand, the U.S. cannot support Venezuela if it is threatening to annex lands that are not considered Venezuelan territory under international law. And neither can Washington allow Venezuelan threats toward that end to go unchecked. Thus, on Dec. 7, Washington conducted flyovers in Guyana under the pretext of military drills to communicate to Caracas that it would not tolerate any military action. It was mostly a formality; Venezuela knows that an offensive move would force Guyana to seek the support of powerful allies like the U.S. and jeopardize the sanctions relief it has received and the regional political ties it has forged since 2019.

Washington’s response to the dispute may be an indication of how it will manage future Western Hemispheric affairs. The Monroe Doctrine, which essentially asserts Washington’s right to oppose forays into the Americas, is now 200 years old. Though its eponymous president likely never intended one of his Congressional speeches to be the bedrock of American foreign policy, it has remained in force in various iterations over the years and has been the foundation of U.S.-Latin American security ties since the beginning of the 20th century. But it is in dire need of an overhaul. New political paradigms require new political frameworks. Economics has replaced security as the driver of hemispheric relations; China, Russia and Iran don’t pose as big a security threat to the American mainland as do their commercial interests in Latin America.

Washington understands that its policies ought to reflect as much. It needs to decide how (and whether) it will intervene when two Western Hemispheric countries disagree; how to answer economic security threats from rivals like China; and how it will engage other members of the hemisphere.

For now, a Venezuelan military incursion into Guyana seems unlikely. But if things come to a head, the repercussions will be hemispheric, especially as the Global South becomes more important.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Maduro plays Biden for a sucker
« Reply #659 on: January 29, 2024, 06:48:27 PM »
enezuela’s Maduro Tricks Biden—Again
Caracas reneges on its vow to let an opposition leader run for president.
By
The Editorial Board
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Jan. 29, 2024 6:35 pm ET


The world is full of surprises, but not in Venezuela. The country’s declaration Friday that popular opposition leader Maria Corina Machado can’t run for president was predictable to everyone except the Biden Administration.

Nicolás Maduro, a dictator who took office when Hugo Chávez died in 2013, is supposed to face an election this year. Ms. Machado, who won the opposition’s primary in October with some 90% of the vote, would be a heavy favorite in a fair election given the way Mr. Maduro has destroyed the economy. Which is why the government is blocking her run this year and for the next 15 years.


In October the Maduro government and the opposition signed the Barbados Agreement, a pledge to work toward a free presidential election. The dictatorship made no concessions, but the Biden Administration immediately lifted Trump-era oil and gas sanctions for six months. It also warned that Venezuela had a Nov. 30 deadline to show progress toward removing the government’s ban on opposition candidates, including Ms. Machado.

The regime has since done nothing but harass the opposition and especially members of Ms. Machado’s team. Last Wednesday State Department assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere Brian Nichols described Caracas foot-dragging as an “extremely difficult moment” and called the harassment “extremely worrying.”

On Thursday Venezuela’s president of the national assembly said Ms. Machado won’t be allowed to run. The next day Mr. Maduro’s hand-picked Supreme Court echoed that declaration, upholding the ban, with charges that she had engaged in conspiracies against the regime. The only “conspiracy” is that she opposes the regime.

On Saturday the State Department said the ruling is “inconsistent with the commitment” made in Barbados. No kidding. State noted that Ms. Machado “neither received a copy of the allegations against her nor was afforded the opportunity to respond to those allegations.” It said the U.S. is “reviewing our Venezuela sanctions policy, based on this development and the recent political targeting of democratic opposition candidates and civil society.”

There isn’t much to review. Mr. Maduro learned his politics from Fidel Castro and isn’t about to step aside. The U.S. was naive to think he’d allow a free election, and the only realistic response is to restore the sanctions.


Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Sen. Rubio: Biden goes flaccid on Maduro
« Reply #660 on: February 05, 2024, 05:30:29 PM »
Biden Goes Soft on Nicolás Maduro
Venezuela’s dictator promised a free election, then banned his leading opponent.
By Marco Rubio
Feb. 5, 2024 5:54 pm ET


‘They’re not getting a free pass for actions they take that are in contradiction to the commitments that they’ve made to move toward free and fair elections.” So said Secretary of State Antony Blinken of Venezuela’s narco-regime when I questioned him in October about President Biden’s decision to lift sanctions on Caracas. I’ll hold Mr. Blinken to his words: We must restore sanctions on Venezuela immediately.


Dictator Nicolás Maduro told Mr. Biden in October that he would permit a free and fair presidential election this year. Instead, Mr. Maduro has banned his leading opponent, María Corina Machado, from running for the next 15 years, while his thugs have persecuted her team and vandalized her campaign headquarters.

Mr. Biden has responded by restoring sanctions only on Venezuela’s state-owned gold-mining company. He’s waiting until April to restore sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector, allowing Mr. Maduro to spend two months shoring up his tyranny. Even after the April deadline, the dictator would be free to sell some sanction-free natural gas and trade off his regime’s debt.

This is an outrageously weak response from a president. For one, this sanction doesn’t help the people of Venezuela. The meager growth that Venezuela’s economy experienced last year has been more than offset by the empowerment of its oppressive regime. There are more political prisoners in Venezuela’s jail cells than before the Biden administration initiated its negotiations.

Mr. Biden’s decision embarrasses the U.S. The more we fail to enforce red lines, the more our adversaries are likely to attack. Our weakness in the Middle East has cost the lives of three Americans, with many more injured. We must re-establish our international credibility, and fast. If emboldened, Mr. Maduro might invade nearby Guyana, which could jeopardize the security of America’s oil and bauxite supply chains.

We have a lot to lose from strengthening such a dangerous regime. Venezuela is one of the main points for U.S. adversaries, including Iran, Russia and China, to enter our hemisphere. The country provides a stronghold for narco-terrorists who produce drugs and spread violence.

So why the inaction? Mr. Biden is hamstrung by socialist sympathizers in his party who believe the Venezuelan migrant crisis is the result of sanctions, not Mr. Maduro’s repressive regime and America’s open border. Mr. Biden must decide whose interests he will serve. Those of the American people or those of his party’s ideologues?

If we continue to appease Mr. Maduro, our hemisphere will become more dangerous and more anti-American. Restoring sanctions would be no silver bullet, but it would be a step in the right direction. I urge Mr. Blinken to hold fast to the commitments he made last October. If not, I will ask him to come before Congress to explain the reason for Mr. Biden’s unconscionable delay.

Mr. Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida.

Body-by-Guinness

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Ignore Our Lies or We'll Flood Your Borders
« Reply #661 on: February 06, 2024, 04:59:48 PM »
Perhaps this is why Biden is such a squish where Venezuela is concerned:


How Venezuela’s dictatorship is weaponizing the US border crisis
The Hill News by Arturo McFields, Opinion Contributor / Feb 6, 2024 at 10:55 AM//keep unread//hide

The Venezuelan dictatorship, with 25 years in power, continues to bet on increasing forced migration as a useful strategy for blackmailing President Biden's administration against reimposing sanctions against the regime.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez has threatened to immediately revoke migrant repatriation flights and review any existing bilateral cooperation mechanism in the even that sanctions return. The threat comes from a regime that took the most prosperous economy in Latin America and forced more than 7 million of its own citizens to emigrate in abject poverty and desperation.

Over the last year, the U.S. had relaxed many of the sanctions against Venezuelan gold, gas and oil in a bid to ensure free elections and help stabilize the nation's deteriorating economy. It seemed like a reasonable proposal, but the dictatorship is not willing to risk two decades of Chavismo and the resultant ill-gotten gains.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Justice, controlled by the regime of Nicolas Maduro, banned the main opposition leader, María Corina Machado, from running for office for 15 years. The ruling closed the doors to any possibility of democratic change and reignited a desire among its 28 million citizens to emigrate.

The weaponization of migration has been part of the old Marxist toolkit since the days of Fidel Castro and the Mariel boatlift. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter tried to promote dialogue and democracy in Cuba, easing sanctions with good faith. All the while, Fidel Castro increased repression and corruption in the Caribbean nation.

This story seems to be repeating itself.

Last year, the communist regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela carried out massive joint operations to promote irregular emigration to the U.S. Cuba provided the migrants, Venezuela the Conviasa airline and Nicaragua the gateway to begin the northward journey toward the U.S. border.

Although this immigration scheme was scaled back due to a timely U.S. response, the Nicaraguan dictatorship has opened other routes to take migrants to the border. Even last December, a charter flight headed to Nicaragua was caught trafficking 276 Indian nationals at an international airport in France.

Manuel Orozco, a researcher at the Inter-American Dialogue, has said that Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega wanted to open the immigration valve for 100,000 people, obtaining millions each month in income taxes on remittances. This is a risky but profitable business.

All around the world, the communist model has been a resounding failure. But migrants fleeing communist systems have generated resounding success. In Nicaragua, during the first six months of 2023, the Ortega regime collected more than $2 billion in remittances. The worse the tyrant, the better forced emigration is for his economy.

In Venezuela, it is clear that the migratory hemorrhage requires something more than walls to stop. A foreign policy and security strategy is needed to address the weaponization of immigration by dictatorships like those of Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela, but actions are also needed to prevent the emergence of new tyrannies or failed states like Haiti.

We recently saw an extraordinary example of leadership in Ecuador. The country has not yet emerged from the crisis caused by drug trafficking and gangs, but it is receiving timely international cooperation to avoid a total disaster. Even a divided U.S. Congress presented a bipartisan statement .

Another positive example was the immediate response to the governance crisis in Guatemala. Corrupt power groups wanted to prevent the transfer of leadership to the new president, Bernardo Arevalo. Strong international pressure and the leadership of the U.S. prevented a tragedy there. These have been good recent examples of what can be done to prevent new migration crises.

If we limit ourselves to believing that the migration crisis is solved at the border, we are only addressing part of the problem — the symptoms, but not the disease. Dictatorships, narco-states and corruption are issues that require an urgent and comprehensive response. It is critical for the U.S. to take care of its so-called backyard, promoting democracy, security and prosperity. This is not an expense, but an investment.

Arturo McFields Yescas is an exiled journalist, former Nicaraguan Ambassador to the Organization of American States, and a former volunteer in the Peace Corps of Norway.

https://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/4443814-how-venezuelas-dictatorship-is-weaponizing-the-us-border-crisis/

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Venezuela
« Reply #662 on: February 06, 2024, 05:05:05 PM »
I had not thought of that angle.

Good find.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Biden appeases Venezuela too
« Reply #663 on: February 12, 2024, 06:05:44 AM »
Maduro Plays the Migrant Blackmail Card
Venezuela dares the U.S. to reimpose oil and gas sanctions. Will Biden give in?
Mary Anastasia O’Grady
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Mary Anastasia O’Grady
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Feb. 11, 2024 3:52 pm ET


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Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson and Dan Henninger. Images: EPA/AP/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly
Delcy Rodríguez, Venezuela’s vice-dictator, warned Washington on Jan. 30 that her government will refuse to accept deported migrants if the U.S. reimposes oil and gas sanctions: “If they make the mistake of intensifying the economic aggression against Venezuela . . . repatriation flights for Venezuelan migrants will be immediately revoked as of Feb. 13.”

This is an act of desperation on the part of an illegitimate government and it’s been complemented by Venezuelan saber-rattling on the Guyanese border. Caracas is feeling the heat from the international community—including left-of-center democracies—to hold a free and fair election this year. Unfortunately, given President Biden’s record of giving in to criminal regimes, there’s reason to fear that the threats will achieve their intended outcome of more sanctions relief. But there’s also a slim margin of hope that they won’t. It depends on whether Mr. Biden is serious about democracy for Venezuela.

Mr. Biden’s timid foreign policy telegraphs trepidation to despots who want to harm America. The president’s January 2022 suggestion that Russia might get away with a “minor incursion” into Ukraine is one example. More recently, there’s his unwillingness to respond effectively to Iranian-backed attacks on U.S. assets. Isolationist Republicans are part of the problem.

Russia, China and Iran also smell U.S. weakness in the Western Hemisphere. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping hold sway over Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. The government promised a competitive vote in 2024 when it signed an October agreement—brokered by Norway—with the opposition at a meeting in Barbados. No one thought Venezuela was serious, except perhaps the Biden administration. The ink wasn’t dry when the U.S. announced that for six months it would lift sanctions on oil and gas investments and sales from Venezuela. Those sanctions had been in place since the Trump administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave Caracas until the end of November to set a “timeline” to reinstate banned presidential candidates and free political prisoners.

When Venezuela blew through that deadline, the U.S. gave it a pass. Days of delay turned into weeks and months. In January the U.S. got its answer: Mr. Maduro’s hand-picked Supreme Court disqualified popular opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado with absurd allegations of conspiracy against her country. The regime has also arrested members of her team.

Ms. Machado won the opposition’s primary last year with more than 90% of the vote and is the heavy favorite to beat Mr. Maduro in a level contest. If the regime can eliminate her candidacy, it hopes a multicandidate field will emerge, fragmenting the opposition. This is an age-old tyrant’s trick to hold on to power while claiming victory at the ballot box. Meantime, Venezuela hasn’t yet issued a campaign calendar. Until it does, international observer teams are unable to organize their missions or launch exploratory visits ahead of the vote.

The good news is that the State Department said in January it is prepared to reimpose the sanctions in April on Venezuelan oil and gas. The bad news is that it said this will happen “absent progress” by Caracas toward a legitimate election. Those words, coming from a U.S. administration that has a history of making excuses for the regime, don’t boost confidence.

Caracas is so used to bullying Mr. Biden and watching him back down that it is trying again with Ms. Rodríguez’s warning on migrants. But blocking entry of Venezuelans into their own country would be a violation of international law. It might give Mr. Maduro a brief feeling of righteous revenge but that’s unlikely to last if the U.S. responds by ending flights between American and Venezuelan airports. Mr. Maduro’s self-imposed isolation from the largest economy in the world would reaffirm Venezuela’s reputation as a rogue state. The right response is to call his bluff.

If Mr. Biden sees an opportunity to throw some crumbs to Washington oil lobbyists in an election year, he could renew the sanctions relief and blame Ms. Rodríguez. But he’d be going against world opinion. On Thursday the European Parliament passed a resolution (446-21) saying it won’t recognize the election if Ms. Machado isn’t allowed to run. The European Union also wants sanctions on Venezuela’s Supreme Court and its security forces for abuses of power against government opponents.

Last week the website of Brazil’s pro-Cuba President Inácio Luiz “Lula” da Silva announced Brazil’s continuing support for implementing the Barbados agreement. Even Juan González, President Biden’s lefty National Security Council adviser for Latin America, said last week that “all candidates must be eligible to compete.” He added that Ms. Machado is “the opposition candidate.”

Yet if that generated any optimism among the Venezuelan opposition it evaporated when Mr. González suggested from Bogotá that Colombian President Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing terrorist, play the role of mediator between the Venezuelan dictatorship and the opposition. Apparently Raúl Castro isn’t available.

Crafty_Dog

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Venezuela doing a Putin on Guyana
« Reply #664 on: February 15, 2024, 03:54:51 PM »
https://michaelyon.locals.com/upost/5271290/coming-soon

All as Biden gives Wall Street the right to buy Venezuelan bonds, a half million work permits to V'n illegals, V. refuses to take back V. illegals, and breaks promise about elections by blocking opposition candidate.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Venezuela's "transition"
« Reply #665 on: February 19, 2024, 01:39:54 PM »
Could benefit from a goodly dose of cynicism , , ,

February 19, 2024
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Washington Remains Committed to Venezuela’s Transition
But its resolve isn’t absolute.
By: Allison Fedirka

It’s no secret that the United States wants regime change in Venezuela. Since 2019, Washington has intensified its efforts toward that end by boosting support for the political opposition, backing a parallel government and employing sanctions against the state’s most lucrative businesses. But none of these efforts has produced Washington’s desired result – and any future ones will likewise encounter strict limitations.

Washington’s interest in Venezuela lies in its interest in securing the Western Hemisphere. Venezuela’s position in the Caribbean basin, its ties to Cuba, its anti-U.S. alignment and its status as a major drug trafficking country make it uniquely suited to potentially disrupt hemispheric security. For the U.S., a secure Caribbean engenders maritime trade, reduces illicit business flows and keeps adversaries at a comfortable distance. Instability in Venezuela, then, threatens vital U.S. interests. Under the government of President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has grown markedly less stable, and it shows no sign of stabilizing – not with the U.S. sanctions regime against it, and not with its few allies financially unable to assist it. The status quo will continue to spur emigration, social unrest, nationalist sentiment and political radicalization, so Washington wants to make sure whoever replaces Maduro isn’t indifferent or hostile to U.S. considerations.

Sanctions have been Washington’s tool of choice for forcing Caracas’ hand. The U.S. first employed them in 2014 to target high-profile individuals. In 2018, Washington added state-run companies such as oil firm PDVSA and various financial transactions to the list. This latter round proved particularly costly to the Venezuelan economy, so the next year the U.S. began to allow select energy companies to conduct business with Venezuela under specific conditions. It was not until October 2023 that the U.S. government issued a six-month suspension of all sanctions against Venezuelan state-owned companies and financial transactions – a result of a political agreement between the Maduro government and the opposition known as the Barbados accords, which also called for free and fair elections. Yet at the beginning of 2024, Maduro disqualified the candidacy of the winner of the opposition's primary, calling into question his fealty to the Barbados accords. In response, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Minerven, the state-run gold company, and threatened to reimpose sanctions on the oil industry by April 18 if no conclusive progress has been made.

Notably, American businesses are against the sanctions. Heavyweights like Chevron, Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price and Greylock Capital have much to gain in Venezuela and have thus advocated easing sanctions, arguing that it’s in Washington’s best interest that private U.S. firms are free to counter foreign competitors.

Last year, for example, Russian prospecting company RosGeo signed an agreement with PDVSA that develops technical advising, vocational training and geophysical prospecting for oil and gas deposits. This opens the door for Russian ships to conduct studies off the Venezuelan coast in the Caribbean basin. Certain Wall Street financial firms warned that investors from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus – all places known for funneling Russian money – had purchased billions of dollars worth of Venezuelan bonds. In response, the U.S. government allowed bond purchases to continue instead of sanctioning them again with the gold mining licenses.

Also factoring into Washington’s Venezuela policy is the need to preserve other relationships in the region. ExxonMobil, for example, has said it plans to drill in Guyana this year. And though it said it would do so in uncontested waters (Venezuela disputes the ownership of some offshore oil wells) the announcement nonetheless triggered Venezuela to again deploy a small number of troops to Guyana’s border. Washington is all but forced to side with Guyana, but it has no interest in a military intervention, which would alienate Washington from the rest of Latin America. To help share the responsibility of stabilizing Venezuela, Washington turned to Colombia and Brazil. Brasilia led talks at the start of this year to help reduce border tensions between Venezuela and Guyana. And Colombian politics, not to mention its close ties with both the U.S. and Venezuela, makes Bogota a key player in facilitating a political resolution in Venezuela.

This latter point is particularly important because Venezuela’s domestic political landscape is among the biggest constraints to improving bilateral ties with the U.S. The Maduro government came to office as the hand-picked successor of Hugo Chavez. Maduro still holds a grip on power through a series of economic, illicit, political and security networks, and he still controls virtually the entire state apparatus. But the country’s dramatic economic decline created political fissures within the once-united Chavista camp centered on Maduro supporters, traditionalists and reformers. Maduro supporters agree with the government’s more aggressive foreign policy and are generally content to turn a blind eye to the domestic crackdowns that have occurred to keep political support in line. Traditional Chavistas criticize Maduro for corruption and mismanagement. They favor a return to the political and economic structures that are consistent with Chavez’s original intentions. This camp finds its support largely among the military and lower classes. The reformists support a more pragmatic approach. Many of them studied overseas and come from the middle class and business class in Venezuela. Their pro-business stance leads to a more pragmatic and technocratic approach to governance.

Then there is the opposition, led by Maria Corina Machado. She presents as a technocrat in that she studied finance and public policy both domestically and overseas, but her activism took off in 2013 after Chavez’s death. She is a harsh critic of Maduro and traditional Chavismo. Her political platform calls for systematic reform by reducing the role of state companies, lowering welfare payments, promoting the private sector and weakening the executive’s power. In terms of political capital, she has no rival in the opposition. Her hardline stance has endeared her to the public but has made her a target for the regime.

If the U.S. wants to engage Venezuela, it needs to engage all three groups. It can’t afford to completely circumvent those who control state institutions, nor can it ignore the institutional reformists who, along with the pro-democracy open-economy opposition, would be the vanguard of a political transition, which needs to find a way to allow Maduro to save face. Machado’s rhetoric indicates that she understands Maduro’s position and that there is a greater need to move forward than to retaliate.

All these moving pieces will weigh on Washington’s decision on whether it will renew sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector come April 18. As the political drama unfolds, the U.S. will adjust its calculus – for instance, by determining if it will punish Venezuela for imprisoning political activists and expelling U.N. human rights officials. Washington remains committed to a political transition in Venezuela that includes allowing opposition candidates to run for office, announcing electoral calendars and formally inviting election observers from the European Union. But its resolve is not absolute; even the U.S. must operate within its constraints.