By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now Associate Managing Editor
WASHINGTON, USA – President Nicolas Maduro’s government is of the view that “Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, which is why actions by diplomatic representatives that implicate meddling in matters that are the exclusive realm of the Venezuelan people and state authorities are not and will not be allowed,” and that the international community should “adopt a constructive balanced attitude” toward Venezuela’s political crisis, instead of “encouraging the path of coups and violence (and) facilitate a peaceful and negotiated solution between the Venezuelan camps.”
Maduro’s government also accepts as true that Washington’s support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim leader is aimed to oust his administration and open Venezuela’s vast oil reserves as well as gold deposits to US corporations.
A report from RBC capital markets entitled, Oil Strategy: Venezuela – The Fundamental Manual, dated January 29, 2019, states:
“In light of sanctions on PDVSA, we highlight the market impact of an oil industry in shambles where production and exports have been sliding for years and domestic refiners are operating at abysmal utilizations. Any meaningful interruption in trade could trigger a test of domestic storage capacity and lead to production faltering farther.
“Rearranging oil trade flow by diverting barrels from the US can have wide-ranging implications for global trade. Asia is the natural fit, but China has been tapering purchases from Caracas of late. Also, crude quality matters! Heavy, sour Venezuelan barrels are becoming increasingly difficult to replace given the challenges facing other similar spec producers like Canada, Mexico or Iran. Cue the bid for domestic sour crudes.
“The loss of Venezuelan heavies in the US leaves market share up for grabs. Common thought is that WCS should fare well, but our barrel tracker indicates that Canada has a limited footprint at US refiners of Venezuelan crudes. Mexico and Iraq are beneficiaries.”
Washington recently announced new sanctions on Venezuelan officials and US national security adviser John Bolton said that the US plans to form a coalition to change the Venezuelan government using the “Monroe Doctrine” as the basis for intervention.
Vice president Mike Pence also said more financial sanctions were coming, calling on US regional partners to help choke off Venezuela’s access to financing by freezing or blocking assets belonging to state oil company PDVSA.
Maduro has since ordered a European office of PDVSA to move to Moscow.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was helping Venezuela with supplies of wheat, in addition to 64,100 tonnes of wheat to Venezuela in the 2018/19 season.
In a statement on the escalating tension in Venezuela issued by the heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) addressed concerns about “ensuing increase in hardship and suffering of the population exacerbated by the imposition of sanctions.”
“The people of Venezuela must be allowed to decide their own future in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter — nonintervention, noninterference, prohibition of the threat or use of force, respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy. As CARICOM has ceaselessly advocated, for this objective to be attained, there has to be a meaningful and internal dialogue between the contending parties. This dialogue must determine how best the crisis can be resolved within the confines of the constitution and the rule of law, whether by referendum, elections or any other agreed mechanism. Nothing short of this will lead to the quelling of this crisis or provide the relief that all Venezuelans desire.
“Pending this, there must be a commitment to the delivery of humanitarian aid in a manner that is not politicised, but which uses United Nations mechanisms that have been used over the years for the impartial and effective delivery of humanitarian relief.”
The crisis in Venezuela shows no sign of de-escalation. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is gaining more support from Washington and the international community as the interim president of Venezuela, amid the deteriorating political, humanitarian and economic situation unfolding.