By Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein – Jan 10, 2023
During this past year, the Venezuelan government developed strong international relations with the aim of continuing to break the overwhelming blockade enforced by Washington, as part of the US government’s isolation strategy, part of a broader policy aimed at overthrowing the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
Overcoming the exclusion that Venezuela was subjected to required learning, developing, and practicing an adequate methodology and an intelligent strategy that abandoned some of the traditional forms of diplomacy, This made it possible to successfully face the new factors that began to emerge when, in the middle of last year, the first manifestations of the flaws in the isolation policy targeting Venezuela at the international level could be observed.
The radical measures taken included the decision to limit the role of the Foreign Ministry by appointing two successive low-profile incumbents with little political background: Félix Plasencia (August 2021-May 2022) and Carlos Faría (since then), producing a greater centralization of the foreign policy during the difficult time that the country is experiencing. Centralization placed greater responsibility on President Maduro, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, and the President of the National Assembly Jorge Rodríguez, on whom, since the first months of 2021, the total weight of the design and execution of international relations has rested.
This situation responded to short-term interests and will surely be modified sooner rather than later. 2023 will be very intense in international matters. In addition to the negotiation with the United States, it will be necessary to work hard for integration in different regional alliances such as MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC, and Petro Caribe, among others. In a few days, we begin a new era in Latin America and the Caribbean when the CELAC Summit is held in Argentina, to which—as is appropriate—President Maduro has been invited. All this involves revitalizing the Foreign Ministry, providing it with dynamism and executive capacity so that it emerges from the stagnation in which it finds itself.
It is no secret to anyone that the main aim of Venezuela’s foreign policy at the present time is the full restoration of relations with the United States. The Bolivarian government has established that this will be possible on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs. To advance on this path, Venezuela has demanded the elimination of the 763 direct sanctions and over 900 laws that make up a total of more than 1,600 unilateral coercive measures that Washington has issued against the Venezuelan people.
The talks in Mexico between the terrorist sector of the opposition managed from Washington (which represents 18% of all the opposition in Venezuela), actually cover up a negotiation between the government of US President Joe Biden and that of President Nicolás Maduro. Biden is under pressure from internal forces who prevent him from openly revealing that he is negotiating with Caracas. For this reason, he uses the most retrograde and discredited sector, therefore, the most subordinate and manageable sector of the local right wing, as an unofficial spokesman for United States policy. The fact that the dialogue is taking place in Mexico and not Venezuela is a response to Washington’s desire to exert direct control of the proceedings since, by not having diplomatic relations with Venezuela, they are not able to intervene in the decisions of the local subordinate political class in Venezuela to directly manage operations on the ground.
It seemed that the trip of Juan González, director for the Americas of the US National Security Council, in March 2022, would open a space for direct dialogue between the two countries, but in reality, the visit was due to the need of the United States to explore the energy market after the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Even this meeting had to be hidden from the easily manipulated public opinion of the United States after Biden’s alleged interest in negotiating the release of US citizens detained in Venezuela.
Biden’s intent to move away from disgraced former president Trump’s “failed policy” against Venezuela, to make it more “effective” in pursuit of the objective of his two predecessors, which is to overthrow Maduro, has led him to disguise this objective, especially since he requires alternatives, facing a global energy crisis of unpredictable dimensions if the war in Ukraine continues to drag on.
After the failure of the Lima Group as an operational instrument for the overthrow of Maduro and the political expiry of most of its participants, Biden insisted on attempts to isolate Venezuela. Therefore, Caracas was not invited to the “Summit of the Americas” held in Los Angeles in June of this year.
The response of the Venezuelan government was to organize—simultaneously with the Summit in Los Angeles—a tour of the Eurasian region in which President Maduro visited countries leading the way in the new international system: Türkiye, Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, and Azerbaijan. Venezuela strengthened relations with a view to expanding cooperation, trade, and investment in various areas of the economy and services, emphasizing agriculture, tourism, finance, logistics, industry, mining, and, of course, the energy sector.
Likewise, Venezuela continued adding expertise to the study and practical knowledge of measures and actions that allow it to circumvent the illegal economic, commercial, and energy blockade imposed by the United States and Europe. Similarly, President Maduro has carried out political dialogue in order to exchange ideas that will lead Venezuela to play a relevant role in the world of the future.
Regarding regional policy, Venezuela has continued to advance in its reinsertion process after the distancing of a large part of the countries of the continent that opted to follow the United States, counting on the overthrow of President Maduro. Since 2020, Venezuela has witnessed the return of ambassadors from Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay; Brazil’s will likely join this year, contributing to a situation that is quite different from the one created in 2019 when the United States tried to build a parallel state institution in the country [with the failed Guaidó strategy] that received the support of most of the right-wing governments in the region.
The full re-establishment of bilateral relations with Colombia has had a particularly notable impact, given the high number of citizens of each country residing in the other and the multitude of common interests in terms of economic and commercial exchange, as well as the need to design a policy that allows for the establishment of mutually advantageous operating standards on the extensive 2,219 km border between the two countries.
The possibility that a similar situation will begin to take place this year with Brazil after the assumption of the presidency by Lula Da Silva may lead to a total stabilization of the two largest land borders of Venezuela, generating conditions of stability resulting in a positive situation for the country, especially since the great tensions in terms of national security experienced in the recent past will give way to the search for solutions through dialogue and negotiation in order to coordinate actions in the fight against drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime.
Finally, within the framework of safeguarding national interests, Bolivarian diplomacy has endorsed Venezuela’s position before international organizations, by exercising a firm defense of sovereignty over the Essequibo territory. To this end, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez went to The Hague, Netherlands, to present Venezuela’s position before the International Court of Justice, by which Guyana has violated the 1966 Geneva agreement to serve the interests of the large transnationals of the energy sector struggling to get hold of the rich energy deposits of the territory.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, a Venezuelan international relations expert, Gelfenstein was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. He has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant,” published in several Latin American countries.
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