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Economic opportunities bring diplomacy back to Caracas | International

Nicolás Maduro will take part in a march in memory of Hugo Chávez this Thursday.Marcelo Garcia (AFP)

Ambassadors have returned to the Miraflores Palace, the seat of the Venezuelan government, this 2022 to present their credentials. Four years after the international community distanced itself from the government of Nicolas Maduro, whose legitimacy was questioned in elections that re-elected him, the local panorama has changed, but geopolitics still prevail amid a crisis in the energy market. War in Ukraine. In Forecasting Global Recession, Inflation and Energy Crisis, Economic opportunities are opening up in what was once oil country. Venezuela is no longer a country of food shortages and expropriations, but it is also not a country that floats with full assurance, as the shadow of poverty continues to appear in the photo.

The turning point was the re-establishment of relations with Colombia after the election of Gustavo Pedro. But before this, Argentina had already replaced the custodians of the remote period with a full-fledged ambassador. Less than six months after Argentine Oscar Laborde submitted his credentials in Miraflores, he has already received Maduro, his wife Celia Flores and his son Nicolás Ernesto at his home to share a barbecue, according to photos he shared on his networks. .

There is no consensus on Venezuela’s diplomatic status in Brussels In 2021 he expelled his ambassador Isabel Brillhante. But some countries are starting to take action. Portugal gave Maduro a new ambassador last March. That same month, a high-level US delegation met the Chavista president, a milestone in freezing ties between the two countries, opening the floodgates to the rest of the international community.

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As revealed by EL PAÍS, Spain may soon do the same. When considering submitting the appointment of an ambassador to the Council of Ministers. The move comes after the government returned to the Mexico talks a few days ago. A new situation will act as an argument after the rapprochement was completed when France brought together the representatives of the two sectors in Paris a few weeks ago with the support of Colombia and Argentina.

As of 2020 there is no Spanish ambassador in Caracas. Jesus Silva then stopped his work Opposition member Leopoldo López was sheltered in his home. During the two years, Juan Fernandez Trigo and Ramon Santos acted as business managers.

“After the meetings between the White House and Maduro, Europe believes that a progressive lifting of sanctions is possible, especially in the oil sector. Europe does not want to leave the picture, especially now that Chevron has the license, it will be very difficult for the US to control the business that European energy companies want to do in Venezuela,” says Mariano D’Alba. a specialist in international relations and senior adviser to the Crisis Group think tank. “The situation is changing as economic opportunities open up on a larger scale.”

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The biggest clashes with the Maduro government since the fall of the so-called Bolivarian model of socialism have finally led to the easing of economic restrictions. However, this opening lacked political engagement. There have been no major improvements in democratic guarantees. The proof is there. There are still more than a hundred political prisoners, reports from the United Nations Freedom Committee document the structure of persecution of the opposition and the progress of trials at the International Criminal Court.

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“It can now be said that the limits of sanctions are no longer the main stumbling block. But the government does not want to respect democratic guarantees, but there are still some warnings about foreign investment,” says De Alba. Although the license granted to Chevron still has many restrictions and is limited to six months, PDVSA has created great expectations about the fact that it will be able to increase its production, thanks to the investments that the American oil company needs to reactivate its operations. This would, in theory, generate more revenue for the Maduro government, which is willing to make some concessions that would allow it to reach a more favorable economic position for the 2024 presidential elections.

Eni and Repsol received approval from the Treasury Department last June to trade Venezuelan oil to Europe with the aim of recovering debts from the state-owned company. After signing A social contract on the negotiating table in Mexico, in Caracas the Minister of Petroleum, Tareck el Aissami, signed the first contracts with Chevron. “Venezuela is still standing and open to international investment in this sector,” the official said. Once again, Mexico has become the center from which diplomatic moves toward Venezuela are based. “The only alternative is to move forward with negotiations with Mexico, and major Western countries believe that a return to negotiations is a step in the right direction, but nothing is written in stone as tensions continue,” says de Alba.

The U.S. oil company this week took control of Petropier facilities in Barcelona, ​​in the eastern part of the country, from where it will extract crude oil for shipment to the company’s refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, Bloomberg reported. Venezuela’s oil exports are just over 600,000 barrels a day, well below the 3 million barrels it once produced. But perspective is re-enacting.

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Petro model

Pedro’s stance on Maduro will, for De Alba, begin to take the lead in the region. Reestablish relations to build bridges, reactivate the economy and reject international sanctions, but not unconditionally, but with a request for some gestures regarding the democratic situation, that is, the return of Venezuela to the human rights system within the United States. Colombian President.

“The Maduro government is interested in making some concessions from a political and electoral point of view, which will lead to a series of concessions that will allow him to achieve a beneficial economic situation and good governance. Until 2024,” says de Alba. On January 1, a new bridge that fell during the government of Jair Bolsonaro was built upon the inauguration of Lula da Silva in Brazil. In late October, Maduro and the president-elect spoke by phone and agreed to resume a bilateral cooperation agenda. “There is a lot of pressure on Lula to be careful with Venezuela. It is doubtful that the embrace between Lula and Maduro will be short.” As early as 2023, another ambassador may pass through Miraflores’ door.

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