Venezuelan president’s legacy of human rights abuses forgotten amid oil shortages

In recent weeks, with increased sanctions on Russia and the systematic withdrawal of US oil service companies from the Eurasian nation, officials have turned to the authoritarian regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in hopes of a solution.

Since Russia launched a massive military invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, crude oil has suffered from market instability and inflation, reaching all-time highs of over $130 a barrel.

Some experts say this trend is likely to continue or even worsen.

A high-level US delegation, which included six Citgo oil executivesmet with Maduro on March 5, triggering a backlash from US officials and the public.

Yet a week later, on March 12, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Josep Borrell Fontelles, met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia to discuss an “engagement”. to the UN charter.

Additionally, Plasencia advocated for the lifting of sanctions against the Maduro regime.

As talk of alternative oil resources emerged, some pointed to Venezuela’s vast potential. The South American country has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, at 304 billion barrels.

By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 298 billion barrels and the United States 69 billion barrels, despite being the world’s largest producer of fossil fuels.

An oil refining plant of state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela in Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui state, Venezuela, on Nov. 4, 2021. (Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images)

Global shortages aside, doing business with Maduro undermines the reason the US suspended relations with Venezuela: a spate of human rights accusations, criminal activity and an election presidential stolen.

“There are structural reasons why Venezuelan democracy would not have stabilized under Maduro,” analyst Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat told The Epoch Times. “The first reason is that what exists today in Venezuela is not a democracy. … It is a dictatorship supported by a one-party state, supported by foreign occupation. For Venezuela to be free, this power structure must disappear.

Since coming to power in 2013, Maduro has presided over the worst economic crisis in the history of the country.

Thirty percent of Venezuela’s gross domestic product was lost just three years after the death of controversial President Hugo Chavez. Excessive levels of extreme poverty and hyperinflation followed, along with critical shortages of food and medicine.

This combination of devastating factors has led to an increasingly authoritarian regime under Maduro, who is still struggling to maintain his grip on the nation amid protests and political opposition. He has, on more than one occasion, extinguished both with deadly force.

After a UN fact-finding mission on human rights abuses in Venezuela, investigators found evidence of unlawful executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture that had been rife since 2014.

In December 2019 Official reportformer deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs Carrie Filipetti said Venezuela’s burgeoning illicit mining industry “perpetuates a horrific cycle of human and ecological crime and abuse.”

She noted that while the “Maduro dictatorship” has recognized the threat that illegal mining poses to indigenous peoples, the contested head of state has taken no action to address this concern.

Instead, Maduro has taken advantage of this and is using mining operations as an umbrella to trade arms, money and control over loyalty to the regime, according to Filipetti.

Allegations of unarmed protesters being beaten and murdered by state security agents have continued to tarnish Maduro’s international reputation since 2014.

Venezuelans demonstrate
Venezuelans demonstrate against the regime of Nicolás Maduro on May 4, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

“The murder of hundreds of citizens protesting for democracy and freedom, the incarceration of citizens for their way of thinking, the handing over of Venezuela’s infrastructure and wealth to foreign occupiers, are flagrant and gigantic violations of human rights. man,” Gutiérrez-Boronat said.

In the 2018 presidential election, Maduro won a second six-year term. However, his political rivals, US officials, some aid organizations and many Venezuelans say the election was nothing more than a show, supporting a ruthless dictator.

The disputed election was behind increased US sanctions against the authoritarian regime.

In 2019, President Donald Trump targeted Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, the property owned by that company, and American companies doing business in the country in an effort to further isolate the nation economically.

Partners such as Chevron were allowed to maintain essential operations, but had to phase out production by June 2022.

Additionally, the U.S. Treasury began sanctioning those involved in the export, production, or sale of Venezuelan oil in 2019.

US sanctions against Caracas began in 2005, when President George W. Bush determined that the Chavez administration was not meeting its obligations to global agreements to combat drug trafficking.

The existing miseries among the people have been aggravated by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Maduro’s regime seized the opportunity to punish dissidents for violating Related to COVID-19 restrictions, and he used the state of emergency to extend control over the population.

Many families lacked access to adequate nutrition, clean water and health care facilities, which Human Rights Watch says amounts to crimes against humanity.

A longtime staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Maduro has openly backed his fellow authoritarian leader’s attack on Ukraine, even claiming Western nations provoked the conflict.

“Those who brought about this conflict with decades of non-compliance with agreements, with decades of threats against Russia, with decades of preparation of NATO expansion plans are primarily responsible for the de-escalation of this conflict. “Maduro said. said during a speech on March 7.

autumn spredemann

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Autumn is a South American-based reporter who primarily covers Latin American issues for The Epoch Times.

Kevin E. Boling