Maduro in Moscow: Russia Can Expand Its Presence in Latin America

04.10.2017

Thanks to cooperation with Venezuela, Russia can seriously strengthen its political and economic presence in Latin America, says Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club.

On October 4, 2017, the Venezuelan president paid a visit to Moscow to “continue the creation of a lasting alliance of the two countries in the energy field.” Nicholas Maduro has already participated in the “Russian Energy Week” International Forum. His meeting with Vladimir Putin is also expected.

Russia Expands Its Presence

Venezuela became one of Russia’s important partners in the previous decade under President Hugo Chavez, and this process continued with Maduro, because thanks to cooperation with Venezuela Russia can seriously strengthen its political and economic presence in Latin America.

Consultations with Venezuela on such issues as hydrocarbons, oil and gas, were also important. Some of major Russian companies were able to enter the Venezuelan market, build their own enterprises there, organize production, and thereby expand the Russian presence.

Moreover, Venezuela should be perceived as part of the “left turn” in Latin America. In the 2000s, several states declared that it was necessary to distance themselves from the United States in order to pursue a more independent foreign and domestic social policy. Among them were Argentina (under the previous leadership), Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia. The recognized leader of this left turn was Venezuela. This dynamics of the Venezuelan and the Latin American policy in general largely meets Russian interests. In particular, it made possible the formation of the BRICS, and this should not be underestimated.

Decline of the Latin American Left in the Time of Global Power Shifts. Expert Discussion Club events
On October 6, at 15-00, the Valdai Discussion Club will host Dr Gonzalo Paz for an expert discussion on the future of the Latin American left and what it holds for Russia as well as the US.

Information War: Trump vs Maduro

Back in the days of Hugo Chavez, we saw that the United States conducted an active policy aimed at regime change in Venezuela. However, under Barack Obama Washington did not set the goal of overthrowing the Venezuelan regime as openly and categorically as Donald Trump did in the recent months.

Under Trump, the political course of the United States vis-à-vis Venezuela has been sharply tightened. This is partly due to Trump's more impulsive foreign policy. And to some extent, it can be assumed that if his loud, belligerent statements against North Korea do not bring results and if the North Korean regime is not overthrown, the toppling of the Venezuelan regime could become a kind of consolation prize for Trump. That is why since summer Trump has been waging an active information war in two directions: both against North Korea and Venezuela.

Trump’s statements, including his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 19, openly demonstrated the United States’ dislike of Venezuela and its readiness to illegally displace the existing regime and interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

So all charges of “usurped power” in “unfair elections” must be fully attributed to the information war of the United States.

Fifth Column in Venezuela. Is Subversion Possible?

Economically, the difficulties associated with the fall in oil prices hit Venezuela very hard, which triggered social instability. Therefore, in Venezuela, one can observe social and class polarization, as it happened in Bolivia. The coming to power of President Evo Morales was also characterized by the fact that he was supported by the ordinary people, workers and peasants, but the middle class, the old elite countered him in every possible way.

Because there are more ordinary people in Venezuela than representatives of the elite, there are no electoral or political chances for Maduro’s opponents in a fair fight. Therefore the elites rely only on the external influence of the United States and form a rather significant “fifth column,” whose actions should not, however,  be underestimated.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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