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The Venezuela Situation 2019

The Venezuela Situation 2019
Image by: CBC News

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's current President since 2013, succeeding Hugo Chavez, has met increasing challenges over his 'methods'. Venezuela has recently been sanctioned by the United States of America last 28th of January 2019 (Monday) to put pressure on the country to cede. Sanctions include freezing the assets of 'Petroleos De Venezuela SA' (PDVSA), Venezuela's state-owned company, in U.S. jurisdiction and at the same time bar any American citizen from doing any business with them.

This move by the US government exposes several layers to both economic and political issues between Venezuela and the United States of America. John Bolton, the US national security adviser stated that, the freezing of assets would prevent Maduro from continuously exploiting the Venezuelan citizens. This move has also allowed the US to introduce opposition leader, Juan Guaido (of the National Assembly Party) as the 'interim President', following the accusations of Maduro's 'dirty re-election'.

The issues of Venezuela, inclusive of the economic collapse and Venezuelans fleeing to neighbouring countries as economic refugees (or migrants) to escape the harsh conditions of their state.

Bolton further states that the US will no longer tolerate the corruption of Maduro and cronies to continue. The sanctions will be a way to prevent the Venezuelan government and dictator to have access to billions of assets and resources at their disposal. In response to the sanctions, Maduro has stated that the sanctions given by America were not rightful and the US has prevented Venezuela from getting access to its property of 'oil riches'.

The US government responds and defends its actions by stating that the oil riches they have sanctioned are owned by the Venezuelan people and the income from it should be used by them. It will not be utilized by Maduro to buy military loyalty and espouse grandeur.

These events have caused several notable consequences and turns of events. Firstly, Maduro's Allies: Russia, China and Cuba, the three countries that has allowed him to maintain his domestic influence might change or remove their support. Years of unrest by the Venezuelan people have been ignored or controlled with the help of these states, if ever they decide to remove their support due to unpredictable circumstances and international pressure, then there will be change. However, if his allies decide to increase their support, then his reign will last longer but this will also open a dangerous consequence, war.

Another consequence is that crude oil tankers holding seven (7) million barrels have been left stranded in the middle of the Caribbean since they are unable to dock on Venezuelan ports. These tankers appear to be circling around, waiting for the sanctions to be removed, which has cost Venezuela 41% of its export income on oil. The US holds 41% of Venezuela's income since its exports to Russia and China are all debt payments.

It is therefore an interesting foreign relations event to follow and be updated on since it involves the majority of the world powers and Russia, China, and Cuba, risk losing another government and oil supplier to the US government. Minor changes can cause different effects, civil war may ensure with international intervention or 'aid', the US may gain another supplier for oil and a government they can control, or they may again introduce another state to war.

Bolton's note on his pad with the words '5000 troops to Cambodia' written on its exhibit that the US government is prepared to intervene with military force if Venezuela's government does not cede to their interim President or the USA. This also begs the question if Maduro's allies will also offer their military assistance to him to keep their political, economic, and military ally and support.

Articles Discussed:

CBC News. U.S. imposes sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA. Retrieved from

Evans, P. (2019). How U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have left a dozen tankers idling with no place to go. Retrieved from

Labrador, R. (2019). Maduro's Allies: Who backs the Venezuelan Regime. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from

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Weekly News Updates for Political Science 188: Comparative Foreign Policy of Major Powers

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