De­spite Venezuela’s grow­ing iso­la­tion, key al­lies hang on

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ni­co­las Maduro’s gov­ern­ment in Venezuela is in­creas­ingly iso­lated but it still counts pow­er­ful sup­port from coun­tries such as Rus­sia and China that can block or de­lay puni­tive ac­tion from the likes of the United Na­tions, an­a­lysts say. As the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rates in the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try, with close to 130 peo­ple killed in an­tiregime protests, in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of the left­ist gov­ern­ment of Cara­cas has in­creased, with the United States slap­ping Maduro him­self with di­rect sanc­tions.

This week, the UN rights of­fice slammed it for us­ing “ex­ces­sive force” against pro­test­ers and a dozen Amer­i­can na­tions in­clud­ing Brazil, Mex­ico, Ar­gentina and Canada is­sued a joint state­ment con­demn­ing “the break in demo­cratic rule” in the coun­try. Nev­er­the­less, Maduro still has vary­ing de­grees of sup­port around the world, from both an ide­o­log­i­cal and fi­nan­cial stand­point.

China, Rus­sia key al­lies

“In al­most all cases, sup­port for Venezuela is strate­gic,” says Michael Shifter of the US-based In­ter-Amer­i­can Di­a­logue re­search centre. “China is look­ing to pro­tect long-term ac­cess to Venezuela’s oil re­serves, small coun­tries in the Caribbean and Cen­tral Amer­ica are hedg­ing their bets and avoid­ing the messi­ness of con­fronta­tion.” Venezuela has the sup­port of both China and Rus­sia, two coun­tries tra­di­tion­ally op­posed to in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions that hold all-pow­er­ful ve­tos in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

They have in­vested heav­ily in the coun­try’s oil sec­tor, and when the United States banned the sale and trans­fer of north Amer­i­can weapons and mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy to Venezuela in 2006, Cara­cas turned to Rus­sia and China in­stead. Moscow, which con­sid­ers Cara­cas a “key strate­gic part­ner”, has crit­i­cised the Venezue­lan op­po­si­tion for “dis­rupt­ing” re­cent elec­tions for a Con­stituent Assem­bly-known in Span­ish as the Con­sti­tuyente-that will re­write the con­sti­tu­tion.

The op­po­si­tion has crit­i­cized the assem­bly, filled with Maduro loy­al­ists, as a power grab and at­tempt to in­stall a “com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship.” But ac­cord­ing to Anna Ayuso, a re­searcher fo­cused on Latin Amer­ica at the Barcelona-based CIDOB think­tank, “the key sup­port is that of China, which has in­vested more than $60 bil­lion and has given loans in ex­change for oil and min­ing con­ces­sion.” “Maduro is the one guar­an­tee­ing its investments.” An­other ally is Iran, which has shown sup­port for the new assem­bly, even if ties are not as strong as they once were un­der for­mer Venezue­lan leader Hugo Chavez.

No EU sanc­tions

In Latin Amer­ica it­self, “Cuba, Bo­livia and Nicaragua close ranks with Maduro” as they share his left­ist ide­ol­ogy as well as fierce anti-im­pe­ri­al­ist feel­ings towards the United States, Anna Ayuso said. Paul Hare, a for­mer Bri­tish am­bas­sador in Cuba and pro­fes­sor at Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity, said other re­gional al­lies also “find it dif­fi­cult to break with the Chavez legacy which gave them” cut-rate crude as part of the Petro­caribe 17-na­tion club.

He adds that the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States, where all 34 mem­ber states have a vote, has been in­ca­pable of adopt­ing mea­sures to try and solve the cri­sis as Venezuela has re­jected them as med­dling. — AFP

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