The conflict in Ukraine: Repercussions for Latin America and Venezuela.

The conflict in Ukraine: Repercussions for Latin America and Venezuela.

By Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, Caracas, Venezuela *

A look at the pages of international information news reveals daily a world that is struggling with what has been called sanctions. In other words, the planet must struggle constantly with the imperial decision to make the peoples suffer in order to impose its own truth, in this case the truth of 11% of the world population that intends to impose its sacred universal creed.

US imposes its own rules on international order

This has been accompanied by attempts to create an “international rules-based order”. These are, of course, rules that the United States decides upon and that everyone must abide by to replace international law, while an inept United Nations Organization is unable to prevent war, manage the pandemic and prevent illegal unilateral coercive measures (wrongly called sanctions) from becoming part of world trade.

NATO has even suceeded in establishing one of its own as Secretary General of the UN, to the point that, violating all kinds of regulations, the United States has claimed the power to expel Russian diplomats accredited to the highest international body. The complicity of Antonio Guterres with his “alma mater” has led to his total silence regarding the possibility that, once Russia has been expelled from the Human Rights Council, the United States will now try to exclude it from the UN Security Council. The US State Department Undersecretary Wendy Sherman has hinted at that at a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee of Congress.

UNESCO has remained inactive in the face of unilateral measures by organizations and countries against Russian artists, intellectuals and athletes. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), together with FIFA and UEFA corrupt mafia associations that do business with world sport, has joined NATO. This led to questioning whether the IOC is really an institution that promotes peace and reunion through sport.

In financial matters, the exclusion of Russia from the swift system, the theft of its assets through the figure of sanctions, the freezing of its reserves abroad, the closure of the airspace and ports of the European Union for Russian planes and ships, the suspension of technical assistance and supply of parts from US and European aircraft manufacturers to aircraft of Russian airlines, are exposing the way international organizations such as the WTO, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Monetary Fund International and the World Bank among others, show signs of their obsolescence, while they work only for 11% of the planet so that it imposes its rules on the majority.

The German Agrarian Federation (DBV) anticipates that there will be “price increases for food products of an unknown scale”. But Washington cares little that the prices of oil, gas, electricity, wheat, aluminum, steel, nickel, among other basic necessities rise to immeasurable prices, increasing the hardships of the world’s citizens. Nor does it seem to concern him that the stability and standard of living in Europe, achieved after almost five “effortful” centuries of looting and theft from its colonies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, are put at risk.

In what could be considered the highest level of irrationality ever reached, even the Russian cats were sanctioned, making it impossible for them to participate in contests or be subject to adoption.

German warnings

In an outburst of sincerity, on March 1st, the German Economy Minister, Robert Habeck warned that sanctions against Russia could cause enormous damage to the global economy. And he warned: “Sanctions cannot be imposed on Russia that the West itself could not bear.”

Peru’s President may be the first to fall as a result of war in Ukraine

A damage that, according to the German minister, could affect the global economy, is already influencing Latin America and the Caribbean. The violent demonstrations in Peru as a result of the increase in fuel prices are a clear expression of this. Beyond the internal instability, Castillo may be the first president to fall as a result of the war in Ukraine.

On the other hand, higher food and energy prices, coupled with supply shortages, will take an immediate toll on low- and middle-income economies such as those in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to the global effects, countries with direct exposure to trade, tourism, and finance will feel additional pressures. In fact, CEPAL lowered the region’s growth estimate for this year, decreasing from th previous estimate of 2.7% to 2.3%. In the longer term, this conflict could fundamentally alter the global economic and geopolitical order if energy trade changes, supply chains are reconfigured, payment networks fragment, and countries reconsider holdings of the dollar as a reserve. Although on the other side, oil exporting countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Brazil could benefit from higher prices.

As far as Venezuela is concerned, the war in Ukraine had immediate repercussions when a delegation from the United States government was in Caracas last March, being the highest level that has come to the country in more than a decade. It is worth mentioning that, for several months, US lobbyists have been working to “soften” the sanctions, pointing out that to get out of the energy quagmire, Washington had to recover ties with Venezuela.

In addition to the energy issue, the United States delegation raised the situation of citizens of that country detained in Venezuela, including six executives of the compnay Citgo, the subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in the United States, imprisoned since 2017. This visit could also be understood as a clear move of Biden’s electoral content ahead of the November elections in the United States.

President Maduro told the United States delegation that any settlement that was made had to start with the lifting of unilateral coercive measures, especially against PDVSA. If that happens, he told the Americans, Venezuela could once again produce 3 million barrels of oil a day. Likewise, Maduro has been in contact with President Putin, as well as with the heads of state of the OPEC countries in order to make decisions to stabilize the market.

However, it should be considered that the new world scenario has changed the situation in Latin America in general. In this context, Venezuela in particular is being influenced by this new world division imposed by the West. President Maduro understood this situation and discussed it with President Putin in two conference calls held in February and March.

On the other hand, the Venezuelan government is considering that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led Washington to pay more attention to Russia’s allies in Latin America, since the White House believes that they could become threats to its security if deepens the confrontation with Moscow. The reestablishment during the first week of March of the normal functioning of the United States embassy in Cuba and especially its consular functions interrupted for 4 years by the Trump government is also part of this logic.

But the case of Venezuela is special if you appreciate the fact that in addition to being a strategic partner of Russia, it is the country that keeps the world’s largest oil reserves. So when the United States and its allies began considering sanctions on Russian energy exports to punish the country for the military operation in Ukraine, prominent voices from both major US political parties pointed to Venezuela as a possible replacement.

This visit generated a great scandal in the United States. Trish Regan, a Fox TV host, said on Twitter: “We must consider a way to restore relations with Venezuela, home to massive oil supplies.” In the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria proposed unlocking two large sources of oil that currently do not reach the market by proposing to “suspend former President Donald Trump’s sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.”

The trip has also brought angry reactions from Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez who have considered this visit a betrayal and have asked Biden not to relax the sanctions against Venezuela.

Finally, as an attached sequel for the future, it should be considered that this visit could have meant the definitive beginning of the Biden administration’s disregard of Guaidó, which would have profound consequences for the interventionist framework that the United States had built in the whole world against Venezuela, as well as in the negotiations that the government of President Maduro has begun with the opposition and that have been taking place in Caracas since last month.

* Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein is a Venezuelan international relations expert, who was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. Gelfenstein has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant” which has been published in several Latin American countries.You can follow him on Twitter: @sergioro0701

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December 2022