Venezuela being able to sell petroleum to the United States, and America easing sanctions against the Maduro regime has led to a wide variety of opinions from all on Venezuelan politics.
Although Biden's administration said that the Biden administration stated it isn't planning to purchase Venezuelan crude oil “at this time” – due to the outrage of Venezuelan-Americans and other anti-socialist Hispanics in the U.S. – Venezuelans have a lot of reason to remain doubtful of that claim. Through this year's U.S. presidential campaign, Biden was portrayed to Venezuelans as a tough leader who could support and intensify penalties towards Venezuela's Maduro regime. Democrats promised voters that Biden will not compromise with Maduro in any way. The idea of sending a delegation to Venezuela to talk about the possibility of lifting sanctions and getting crude oil through Venezuela's Maduro government paints a completely different image of what was promised.
Oil revenue is a key tool of the Venezuelan socialist regime. The assertion that Venezuelan petroleum “belongs to its people” is among the most important narrative elements used over the past two decades. But, it is a fact that the Venezuelan people have not benefited, and have seen only a tiny portion of the profits of the oil boom that occurred in the last decade, aside from the handouts during the Revolution within Venezuela. Most of the profits disappeared or were utilized for the benefit of socialists to expand their influence over the region and even further.
Maduro, who has sold Venezuelan petroleum to Russia since the onset of U.S. sanctions, has plenty to gain by selling America oil, and has little to lose. There is a good chance that the United States does not officially recognize Maduro as president of Venezuela, which would confer a certain amount of legitimacy. Since Venezuela has amassed a large debt to Russia, any money coming from America will end up in Russian pockets. This arrangement would only add an intermediary in the process.
Maduro said that the meeting with an official delegation from the Biden administration was held, despite not mentioning any oil deal that might be in the works, and described the two-hour session as “respectful, cordial, and diplomatic.”
“It seemed very important to be able to discuss topics of maximum interest to Venezuela face to face,” Maduro declared.
Juan Guaido, Venezuela's legitimate but ineffective president, has criticized the decision, urging oil companies not to “trade one dictator for another.” According to Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's ambassador to the United States, the Biden Administration didn't inform Guaido's government of the meetings with the Maduro regime until the group had already arrived in Venezuela.
In an interview with CNN en Espanol, conservative opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado, also questioned Biden regarding the meeting with Maduro, calling the relationship that was taken between U.S. and Venezuela “incomprehensible.”
“Obviously, Russia is aware of everything Maduro offers and says,” Machado declared. “Far from weakening Putin, this approach to Maduro strengthens him, and also sends a terrible message now that, you talked to me about sanctions, because what it says to the world is that tyrants who have energy can commit any crime and they will not be sanctioned.”
The gathering also provoked some anger among fervent leftists of Venezuela. Self-styled “dissident chavistas,” composed of former allies and members of the socialist regime, protested against the meeting.
The opposition group took the decision as a denial of what they called the “Legacy of Chavez.” In Venezuelan socialist language, Hugo Chavez has been elevated posthumously to the post of “Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution” and his rule has taken on a religious mythology. Extreme chavistas regard any potential selling of petroleum to the United States as undermining Chavez's history of hatred for America and as a sign that Maduro is moving “rightward.”
Despite the constant rage from Hugo Chavez towards America and all of his “anti-imperialist” rhetoric, Venezuela continued to export oil to the United States throughout his administration. Venezuela exported petroleum to the United States under Maduro's rule until 2019 when the sanctions were imposed by Trump administration to the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, which stopped purchases of Venezuelan oil.
Contrary to the criticisms of the meeting, a few members from the self-proclaimed leftist “opposition” took the announcement of the meeting positively. Coexistence with the Maduro regime remains their main goal and the latest developments provided further evidence of this. The failed presidential candidate, also known as “opposition” leader, Henrique Capriles Radonski is among those who want to lift sanctions against the Maduro regime. Guaido has criticized Capriles for his comments that he wanted to end restrictions on the Maduro regime.
“Anything that means that this country can recover economically — that's good. If the economy recovers, the Venezuelans recover, not the Government,” Capriles said in an interview with the radio. “If the United States agrees that Venezuela enters the Western oil market, it benefits them and also us. It means that the country will have more income than it does not have today.”
According to reports, some have begun to make preparations to receive American cash. Chevron has been reported to be looking into the possible scenario of eased sanctions to gain the control over its joint ventures with Venezuela, and has reportedly gone even as far as starting preparations to ensure that its employees could get Venezuelan visas to Aruba.
The production of Venezuela's oil has dropped to record-low levels following many years of gross mismanagement and socialist decline. In February 2022, the production of Venezuela's oil is estimated to be about 680,000 barrels per day. This is far less than the 3 million barrels it generated in 2013. This means that Venezuelans remain in the midst of intermittent and unpredictable gasoline shortages.
At present, Venezuelans have to buy oil via two ways. The first has been heavily subsidized and restricted by the government through the Fatherland System, and is fixed to 0.10 Bolivars per Liter (roughly $0.02) However, it's difficult to locate and requires lengthy lines.
The other, referred to as international price gasoline which is priced at $0.5 per Liter ($1.89 for a gallon); although significantly less than current prices within the United States, one has to be aware of the extremely low incomes of Venezuela where the minimum wage for a month is about 30 dollars.
The possibility of reestablishing diplomatic relations between the United States and the Maduro regime could bring some benefits to those who reside in Venezuela who require visas or Consular assistance, given that there is no U.S. Embassy in Caracas, which has been closed since the beginning of 2019. The majority of U.S. embassies in the region are severely overloaded after the Chinese Coronavirus closures; however, this must be considered against the possibility that, if it were done, it could implicitly acknowledge Maduro as legitimate and hinder the acceptance of Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan president.
Although I am not an American citizen, I have many American friends who are currently struggling with the rising Bidenflation rate and high gasoline costs. My experience of the effects of both inflation and availability of gasoline problems in the last few years causes me to sympathize with Americans who are dealing with these two issues.
The bottom line is that any agreement with both the Biden administration as well as Maduro regarding oil won't benefit the American or Venezuelan people. The biggest beneficiary of this agreement would be Maduro himself.