Venezuela gets $6B life­line from Rus­sia

Centre Daily Times - - Obituaries - BY JIM WYSS


As Wash­ing­ton tries to build an eco­nomic wall around Venezuela, Pres­i­dent Ni­colás Maduro keeps dig­ging tun­nels.

On Thurs­day, Maduro said that Rus­sia had agreed to in­vest more than $5 bil­lion in boost­ing Venezue­lan oil pro­duc­tion and an ad­di­tional $1 bil­lion in min­ing – prin­ci­pally for gold.

Af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin this week, Maduro said the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor would also in­vest in Venezuela’s di­a­mond sec­tor, bring in new satel­lite tech­nol­ogy and pro­vide about 600 tons of wheat in 2019. In ad­di­tion, Rus­sia will con­tinue to sup­ply and main­tain Venezuela’s mil­i­tary arse­nal.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil re­serves and is thought to have one of the world’s largest gold re­serves, but it has been mired in an eco­nomic cri­sis that has led to food and medicine short­ages, and the mi­gra­tion of more than three mil­lion peo­ple in re­cent years.

Wash­ing­ton has been us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of tar­geted and sys­temic sanc­tions to ham­string Venezuela’s econ­omy. Last month, the White House pro­hib­ited U.S. res­i­dents and cit­i­zens from deal­ing in Venezuela’s “cor­rupt” gold in­dus­try – a move that was seen as a way to dis­rupt trade be­tween Venezuela and Turkey.

Speak­ing in Moscow, Maduro called the sanc­tions “il­le­gal from the point of view of in­ter­na­tional law and crim­i­nal from the point of view of hu­man­ity.”

He also sug­gested that Wash­ing­ton’s stance was forc­ing Venezuela and other nations to forge a new path and build a “new world.”

As part of that new world, Maduro said Venezuela would con­tinue to lessen its de­pen­dence on the dol­lar. In par­tic­u­lar, Maduro said that, start­ing next year, Venezuela would grad­u­ally only ac­cept the dig­i­tal cur­rency, Petro, as a means of pay­ment. The Petro is gov­ern­ment backed and its value, in the­ory, is tied to Venezuela’s oil and min­eral re­serves, but it has strug­gled to be­come rel­e­vant.

On Thurs­day, as Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan vis­ited Venezuela, the two nations agreed to un­spec­i­fied agree­ments in gold min­ing and en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

The Rus­sian com­mit­ments, if they come through, are a big boost for Maduro who is due to be­gin a new six year term on Jan. 10.

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