Someone Is Losing Their Sh%$ Over Gas Prices
In response to a spike in oil prices, the Biden administration is sending officials to woo President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, because with gas prices in the United States passing $4.00/gallon, the upcoming elections are looking like a blood bath for Democrats.
It seems that the US wants Venezuelan oil back on the market as quickly as possible, and is offering some sort of rapprochement with the Maduro regime.
That being said, I am not sure how receptive Caracas will be to proposals from the Washington without immediate and concrete effects, and I am not sure how willing the Washington is to offer measures that deliver immediate and concrete effects:
Senior U.S. officials are traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Biden administration steps up efforts to separate Russia from its remaining international allies amid a widening standoff over Ukraine.
The trip is the highest-level visit by Washington officials to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, in years. The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Mr. Maduro and closed its embassy in Caracas in 2019, after accusing the authoritarian leader of electoral fraud. The Trump administration then tried to topple Mr. Maduro’s government by sanctioning Venezuelan oil exports and the country’s senior officials, and by recognizing the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuela’s lawful president.
Mr. Maduro responded to the sanctions by seeking economic and diplomatic help from Russia, as well as from Iran and China. Russian energy companies and banks have been instrumental in allowing Venezuela to continue exporting oil, the country’s biggest source of foreign currency, despite the sanctions, according to U.S. officials, Venezuelan officials and businessmen.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted the United States to pay closer attention to President Vladimir V. Putin’s allies in Latin America, which Washington believes could become security threats if the standoff with Russia deepens, according to current and former U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive policy matters.
A note on the journalism here: What is described above are not sensitive policy matters, they are VERY public matters, and using anonymous sources here is journalistic malpractice.
When the U.S. and its allies began considering sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports this month to punish the country for devastation wrought in Ukraine, prominent voices affiliated with both major American political parties pointed to Venezuela as a potential substitute.
Well-connected Republicans have been involved in talks about restarting the oil trade, including Scott Taylor, a former Republican congressman from Virginia who is working with Robert Stryk, a Washington lobbyist who briefly registered to represent Mr. Maduro’s regime in 2020 and remains in contact with people around it.
Mr. Taylor said he spoke on Friday night to a Venezuelan businessman who signaled that Mr. Maduro’s team was eager to re-engage with the United States.
As I noted a very public matter.
On a policy note, I’m not convinced that the US is a particularly credible interlocutor in such situations. The duration of its welcome of nations and peoples offered by the US seems to be short lived, just ask Qaddafi , or Assad, or Noriega, or Mossadegh, or the Kurds, or the Kurds, or the Kurds. (Did I remember to mention the Kurds?)
It should be interesting how this all plays out.