Thursday, October 19, 2017

Incentives for International Pressure in Venezuels

Jorge Castañeda has an op-ed on the importance of international pressure on Venezuela. It is better than most such analyses, which tend to show considerable optimism for a united front of international actors. He explains the importance of gathering the votes in the European Union for sanctions.

However, there is a major sticking point that he simply glosses over:

En algún momento, dejará de poder pagar el servicio de su deuda externa, sobre todo si los chinos y los rusos dejan de ayudarle.

If. If. If. Even more forcefully, Moises Rendon at the Center for Strategic & International Studies makes the following case:

When looking at resolving the Venezuelan crisis, we must consider China’s economic and geopolitical interests, along with Russia’s commercial and oil relationships and Cuba’s political assistance. China has given more than $62 billion in loans to Venezuela in the last 10 years, more than all the multilateral institutions combined. Though China might have a strategic interest in continuing to support an anti-U.S. government in the region, it would also benefit from a transition in Venezuela if a new government brings economic stability, the rule of law, and a respect for previous treaties and bilateral loans.
 Venezuelan engagement with Russia ranges from arm deals to visa reciprocity agreements and oil-production agreements. Russia will also play a role when restructuring Venezuela’s sovereign debt. Rosneft, the Russian oil company, owns 49 percent of CITGO, the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) oil subsidiary based in the United States. Despite the fact that Russia doesn’t have the financial flexibility to keep the regime afloat, it plays an important role in the international arena, especially as part of the UN Security Council. Cuba, on the other hand, is the political mentor of the regime and Venezuela’s closest ally. Thousands of Cubans reside in Venezuela, either through medical assistance programs or military and intelligence efforts. Eliminating assistance to the Maduro regime from these three countries is key.

Yes, all three countries could figure out a way to deal with a change of government in Venezuela, but do any of the three have an incentive to push it? I just don't see it. Russia and Cuba in particular have a lot to lose politically if the opposition takes power, and Cuba has even more to lose financially. So why would they go along?


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