EU and Spain in Venezuela

5 March, 2021

spain in venezuela

The visit by Spain’s foreign minister to Venezuelan refugee camps in Cauca has brought Venezuela to the brink of breaking diplomatic relations with Spain. This is not just another scuffle. The strategy of Spain in Venezuela is changing. During the last year, in a way invisible to the front pages of the media, the bases of the imperialist game in South America and the Caribbean have been profoundly altered. This is only one of the first consequences.

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Venezuelan capital has collapsed…

In 2020 Venezuelan GDP plummeted almost 25%… after almost 8 years in free fall. GDP per capita is already $600 a year, the lowest in 70 years. The predictable collapse of Venezuelan capital has long since turned daily life – especially for workers – into a hell of hyperinflation, health care collapse, insecurity and massive misery…. Obtaining basic supplies has become an undertaking in which thousands of people literally put their lives on the line. As of today, 98% of the population cannot even obtain a regular water supply.

Four million people have already fled the country, 1.8 of whom are crowded in Colombia awaiting regularization. Hand in hand with the pandemic and unemployment, the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees fuels a social breakdown that manifests itself as xenophobia towards migrants in countries such as Ecuador or Peru.

The Chavista bourgeoisie is desperately trying to secure new investments for a devastated oil sector. It has embraced dollarization and eliminated the slightest restrictions on foreign capital. To no avail. They can already try to take cover by hoarding Covid vaccines, even their Swiss private bankers have abandoned them. More importantly, China has completely turned off the credit tap.

… therefore, Spain in Venezuela has little to lose

spain in venezuela
Minister González-Laya in a Spanish Cooperation project in Cauca, border between Venezuela and Colombia.

Of the hundred or so Spanish companies in the country, which includes some of the champions of Spanish capital (BBVA, Mapfre, Meliá…), Repsol is the most exposed: 230 million euros, which is nothing for a company of that size. Most of them, such as Telefónica, left their subsidiaries to fend for themselves some time ago, reporting them as if they were losses to be written off. The sum total of the exposure of Spanish companies is already less than the impact on GDP of military agreements and US bases on Spanish territory. Are they going to put both things on the same scale?

To put it another way: Spanish capital has nothing left to lose, Spain in Venezuela has no major direct investments at stake. Moreover, the acceleration of the Green Deal by the European Commission has eliminated the prospect of betting on Venezuelan oil in the future. In fact, if we take into account Repsol’s recently presented Strategic Plan, the goal is to get rid of hydrocarbons and oil exploration as soon as possible.

Today a new Delcy scandal would be impossible even for Ábalos, because neither the Spanish government nor Repsol see any future for oil as they did a few months ago. Spain’s imperialist zeal in Venezuela no longer has an obvious goal. During the past few months, for the first time in a decade, Spain has not bought any oil from the Caribbean country.

The new EU diplomacy has more to gain and lose in Colombia and Washington than in Caracas

Josep Borrell. Mr. PESC.

Although the Guaidó gamble ended in fiasco, Biden’s electoral triumph means a clean slate for the EU game in the Caribbean. Biden’s strategy with respect to Venezuela is not to let go of Trump’s prey and to keep up the pressure. The EU strategy, to hold territory alongside the U.S. vis-à-vis China and Russia.

That’s why the debut of the New EU diplomacy has had two prongs: Navalny, trying at the same time to pressure Moscow and save the Nord Stream2 in jeopardy by the US, and adding 19 more heads of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie to the list of sanctions already in place. First on the list: Delcy Rodríguez and Diosdado Cabello.

A real end-of-era message. Venezuela no longer has anything to offer the EU, the latter can afford to listen to what’s left of the opposition abroad asking it not to negotiate but to put pressure on the government, and to send the Spanish minister to the Cúcuta border to support Colombia, now much more valuable than ever.

The fact that Venezuela declared the EU representative persona non grata the previous week and gave her 72 hours to leave the country amid a flurry of protest letters and statements… doesn’t matter anymore. The European game -like the strategy of Spain in Venezuela- no longer has the counterweight of fear of losing current or future investments. It is pure regional imperialist strategy subordinated to the dance with the US.

The door to war is once again ajar

Comparison of the Brazilian army with the Venezuelan and Colombian armies in 2019.

But let’s not be mistaken. The US has not closed the door on military intervention at all. The hard core of the Lima Group, (the US itself along with Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile) hinted at it the day before Biden’s inauguration.

On the other hand, the Guaidó strategy failed because of the Colombian military’s refusal to go to war alone and above all because of the blocking of the Brazilian military – with Vice President Mourao at its head – from Bolsonaro’s warmongering impulse. With no regional armed forces to support, Trump wasn’t about to get into a war in South America.

But that balance is shifting. On the one hand, Biden has already shown himself to be much more of a warmonger than Trump. On the other, the Colombian army is no longer what it was two years ago, especially in Cauca. More importantly, after many tensions between Bolsonaro and the army and after Bolsonaro has given signs of wanting to do without Mourao in the 2022 election, the internal correlation of forces is shifting.

Just today, the closure of the already militarized Roraima border sets up an increase in tension that possibly, in the immediate term, will only produce a worsening of the health situation, but shows a willingness on Bolsonaro’s part. Couple this with the revival of the ProSur treaty driven by Piñera from Chile via the continental distribution of vaccines.

The same forces that two years ago brought the continent to the brink of war are once again gathering momentum.

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