01 августа

Venezuela update

Excerpt from briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, August 1, 2019

We fully support comprehensive efforts to find mutually acceptable ways to settle the conflict in this country. Russia is interested in solving the Venezuelan problems as soon as possible and once again urges all involved to refrain from commenting on the process and goals of talks in the Norwegian format held between the legitimate Venezuelan government and representatives of the opposition, as well as from attempting to influence them. External pressure on the negotiation process will not speed it up, but rather sow mistrust between the parties and meaningfully slow the process down.

Such conduct by the US and its allies may cause direct contacts to be broken off and a new political escalation with consequences that will be difficult to predict, which also postpones any peaceful settlement of the intra-Venezuelan conflict without the use of force. All the members of international community somehow interested in reaching a settlement are responsible for the outcome of the intra-Venezuelan dialogue.

Unfortunately, the very first steps along the path of talks have raised concerns among the so-called friends of Venezuelan democracy. Recently (July 16) the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy threatened to expand the sanctions if the talks don’t have practical results. An interesting diplomatic move. If the talks break down, and no matter whose fault it is, sanctions will be imposed. These are the convolutions of EU diplomacy. The US Secretary of State also stepped in and said on July 19 that Maduro leaving office can be the only goal of the Barbados talks. So the talks are seen not as a path to look for a compromise and ways to settle the conflict but to move towards a predetermined goal set by a third party (another country). It seems all these statements with implicit ultimatums can be explained by Washington’s feeling that that the participants of the talks could find a compromise that won’t play into the hands of the US Administration but rather benefit the Venezuelan people.

In addition to verbal threats that constantly invoke the military option, the legitimate Venezuelan government also receives more overt signals: US reconnaissance aircrafts perform provocative flights near the Venezuelan border more and more often, forcing the national Air Force to respond. On July 24, the US Department of the Treasury added another 10 Venezuelans and Colombians as well as 13 companies from several countries (Hong Kong, Colombia, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, the US and Turkey) to the sanction list. This is another example of real pressure and blackmail. Do you know why these companies from the countries I mentioned were added to the list? For evading sanctions to purchase and distribute food as part of social assistance programmes for the poor. Here we can see how much concern there really is for Venezuelans. Recall that US involvement here is predicated on concern for Venezuelans.

Moreover, the US continues to practice double standards. Washington has prolonged the exceptions for five oil producing and oilfield service companies from the sanctions introduced by President Donald Trump this January as part of its policy of choking off the Venezuelan economy. This means that, as a means of unfair competition, these sanctions are designed to squeeze other players out of the Venezuelan market and create additional advantages for US businesses. No anti-Maduro considerations stand in the way when the interests of large US businesses are at stake. This is absolutely hypocritical; it is a double standard and violates all the rules and norms of international relations afforded to democratic communities as global rules of the road. Exceptions are made for companies that don’t lack for resources which they use to further enrich themselves; but no exceptions are made even for poor child cancer and leukemia patients.