Does Washington want to distance Caracas from Moscow and Tehran?

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

The United States of America has granted Chevron a limited six-month expanded Licence to resume pumping oil in Venezuela. This is an essential step following the US announcement to release three billion dollars of the more than 20 billion dollars of Venezuelan funds frozen in banks and international institutions in various countries. This decision is seen as a positive but timid step that goes in the direction of the US interests in the first place and the Venezuelan interests in the second. Observers and analysts believe that this US measure falls perhaps in line with US intentions to distance Venezuela from Russia, China and Iran. Are these the US’s plans, and are they possible to achieve?

A senior decision-maker in the Venezuelan government familiar with the content of the ongoing negotiations said, “Venezuela has not changed and will not change its policy towards its allies and friends who have supported it during the years of illegal US sanctions against the country. Venezuela enjoys an excellent relationship with Iran, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Cuba and other countries. These will remain our friends and allies whether all illegal Western sanctions are or aren’t lifted. We have our principles, and we do not forget our friends or the countries that tried to overthrow our democratic system.”

Venezuela negotiated with the Venezuelan US-backed right-wing opposition delegation in Mexico, which resulted in an agreement, including holding Presidential elections in the country in 2024. This decision was followed by the US Treasury Department’s announcement to release three billion dollars to be administered by the United Nations after listing the priorities the Venezuelan government will spend on. According to the source, the focus will be “the development of the education system and schools, health, electricity, support for over 60,000 chronic and cancerous patients, hospital development, covering drug shortages and other infrastructure projects.” 

On Saturday, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a Venezuelan General License 41, which allows Chevron to resume oil extraction operations for six months. The US Treasury Department office opened its doors on Saturday, a holiday, to issue the licence. However, it should be noted that Chevron owns only a tiny portion of the oil extraction rights it manages. The majority of the oil production and control is held by the Venezuelan state oil and natural gas company PDVSA. Therefore, Chevron has the right to sell what is extracted in partnership with PDVSA and sell the oil to the buyer who offers a price commensurate with international prices.

It is all related to oil. The West has considered Venezuela to be ruled by a dictator since 2017. President Trump imposed harsh sanctions on the country. This US classification of Venezuela and Washington’s use of its favourite weapon of human rights have suddenly vanished- due to its need for oil. Suddenly the “President-dissident” Juan Guaido, long touted by the West as an alternative puppet president, is no longer recognised as Venezuela’s interim President since he lost his position as head of its parliament and following the failure of the colour revolution.

There is no doubt that the promotion of Juan Guaido as President has failed to achieve the US objectives to turn the population against their leaders, strangle the Venezuelan economy and confiscate its funds. These funds of over $20n billion derive from oil, iron, aluminium and other revenues that state and private sectors cannot return to and support the Venezuelan economy due to the US sanctions. Moreover, the UK illegally seized Venezuelan gold, estimated at approximately two billion dollars. All the US-EU sanctions were imposed unilaterally without United Nations approval and caused revenue losses of over $20 billion to the Venezuelan state. It shows how western sanctions always hit the population in the first place, similar to the US sanctions on Cuba, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. The West has also disposed of some of Venezuela’s money to the opposition, which lost its case following the US policy of regime change. But Caracas will not negotiate the expenditure of its confiscated sums belonging to the state that the West has illegally disposed of for its political goals.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

President Nicolás Maduro held the last parliamentary elections in 2020 and the regional elections in 2021 to prove to international observers present in Caracas the transparency and fairness of the polls. However, following the results that affirmed at least 18 of the 23 governorships for the governing party, the West has stubbornly failed to recognise its defeat faced with the people’s choice. The (failed) objective is to undermine President Maduro’s rule, subdue him and bring him into the US “house of obedience.”

Washington clashed with Nicolas Maduro, who not only followed the footsteps of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez but adhered to the principles of the “liberator” Simón Bolívar, who fought for the independence of Venezuela and Latin America from Spanish colonialism. And here is the Venezuelan President loyal to his international allies who supported his country to stand its ground and confront the US hegemony over Venezuela’s rich natural resources. Maduro governs his people on the principles and foundations of the Bolivarian revolution on which the Tierra de Gracia” (Land of Grace – Venezuela’s nickname) was built, as Christopher Columbus called it when he landed in 1498.

Undoubtedly that the US’s new position is a crucial positive step back without necessarily leading to the lifting of illegal sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump and maintained by his successor Joe Biden. It is, however, a victory for the Venezuelan President’s policy of yielding to diplomacy, as he did in shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron, which had imposed sanctions on Caracas. These events evidently take place at a time when the West needs Venezuelan oil.

Chevron’s return to Venezuela will cover about 200,000 barrels of America’s daily needs. This figure is considered a small part of Venezuela’s oil capacity, which despite the sanctions, has been able to export about one million barrels per day, according to reliable Venezuelan diplomatic sources. The US is trying to portray the move as a victory for its economy and Chevron, but the reality is different.

Venezuela will not sell its friends in exchange for the return of Chevron to Caracas. This return serves America’s interest in confronting Russian and finding an alternative to the imported Russian oil or part of it. The US imported around 700,000 barrels daily from Moscow and hoped to make up the shortfall through the oil flow from Venezuela and Iraq. What Washington has done reflects its inability to persuade OPEC+ countries to reverse their decision to cut production by two million barrels per day.

President Nicolás Maduro, who relies on Cuba, Russia, Iran and China to keep the country’s economy going, has triumphed. Other countries in Latin America are gradually moving away from the US hegemony. They are following in the footsteps of Venezuela and Cuba (like Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Brazil). The challenge to the US hegemony is contagious and not limited to the countries of the Middle East or Iran, Russia and China. It also reaches into America’s backyard, indicating Washington’s inability once more to win the hearts and minds of the people, even when they share the same continent.

The US foreign policy toward Latin America in the 19th century focused on excluding European economic influence, powers and territorial expansion and be replaced with the US powerful companies. These objectives were expressed in the No Transfer Principle (1811) and the Monroe Doctrine (1823) that President Donald Trump recently evoked and that allowed Washington to intervene in any nation south of its borders to maintain the US influence. Moreover, foreign intervention was acceptable as long as the US intervened in America’s backyard. These times are over and Latin America, along with many other countries worldwide, are aware of the US damaging military and economic intervention (mainly in the Middle East) to submit populations who refuse its hegemony. The circle of anti-US hegemony is undoubtedly growing.