28 January 2019   Leave a comment

The US has imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PdVSA. The US and some European states has recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela and the sanctions are clearly designed to put pressure on Nicolas Maduro to leave office. This strategy is dangerous because of the history of US interventions in Latin America. Although I disagree with an op-ed in The Guardian written by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, it is hard to dismiss this analysis as pure paranoia:

“Then, Trump and the others will be ready to go for the more muscular approach. Not by accident, this could also benefit Trump as elections approach or if he is cornered by investigations and impeachment. War distracts and makes money. Only this won’t be a regional plunder: China and Russia, both with key interests in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region, have followed Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay and Cuba to call Guaidó’s stunt by its real name: a coup. Russia has indicated it would come to the defence of its ally. In Venezuela, many who may be critical of Maduro but fear most the return of the rightwing opposition to power are unlikely to cheer the newly converted humanitarians. Unlike the supporters of Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973, they’re armed. Washington awaits developments on the ground while keeping “all options on the table”. That’s doublespeak for hoping the heavy-handed response by Maduro’s government would provide moral justification for an intervention that would surely be approved by the Organization of American States.”

US National Security Adviser Bolton told the press today that a military intervention in Venezuela remained a possibility, saying that “The president has made it clear that all options are on the table”.  Such statements are typically boilerplate in many diplomatic situations, but given Mr. Bolton’s hawkish views, it is hard to dismiss them as I would usually do.

Venezuela’s Export Partners

In a move that will undoubtedly complicate the US-Chinese trade negotiations, the US has filed criminal charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. The charges will also make US-Canada relations more difficult since the US has asked Canada to extradite Ms Meng to the US. Most of the charges have to do with Huawei’s economic transactions with Iran which were supposed to be prevented by sanctions. But many suspect that the actions are designed to prevent Huawei from competing with US and European firms in the development of a 5G infrastructure. CNBC  reports:

“According to The Times report, the U.S. government sees fifth generation, or 5G, network, as part of a new arms race where the winner would gain an economic, intelligence and military edge for much of this century. The 5G standard is meant to allow more devices to be on one internet connection, with faster device communications and data transfers. Competition in the telecommunication space to move to 5G is fierce.

In a related move, China’s envoy to the European Union warned on Sunday that excluding Huawei could hamper 5G development, according to a report in the Financial Times.

China’s lead trade negotiator, Liu He, is scheduled to meet with US officials in Washington, DC to continue the trade negotiations, but this US move will clearly make those meetings very difficult. This action against Huawei shows how seriously the two states take the idea of the technological basis for national power.

Posted January 28, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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