just four years ago Nicolas Maduro lived difficult moments. Almost sixty countries, including Spain and the United States, had given their recognition to Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. Inside the country, the economy was breathing threatened by the hyperinflationhe drop in oil production the protests in the streets and hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans leaving the country in search of a better future. The phrase of the then president Donald Trump in which he put “all options on the table”in reference to a US military intervention, gave wings to all those who thought that the heir to Hugo Chavez his days were numbered.
However, the geopolitical scenario has changed a lot since then and the Chavista leader has managed to stay in power and recover the diplomatic legitimacy that had been withdrawn from him in some of the major international forums. Pragmatism has prevailed and Maduro has consolidated his government within Venezuela. This has contributed to the position introduced by President Joe Biden since his arrival at the White House.
Although the president of the United States still does not formally recognize Maduro as president of Venezuela, the world economic situation after the start of the war in Ukraine has blown in favor of Caracas. The US authorities, in an attempt to diversify the supply of hydrocarbons to compensate for the loss of Russian crude due to the sanctions against Moscow, eased the oil embargo in November 2022, thus allowing the American company Chevron could expand its operations in Venezuela.
Little by little a slow thaw began. President Biden sent high-level delegations to Caracas to negotiate the release of US executives and later released the Venezuelans Franqui Flores and his cousin Efraín Castro Flores, nephews of the Venezuelan first lady, Cilia Flowers, who were serving an 18-year prison sentence in the US. Shortly after, the Colombian president Gustavo Petro visited Maduro in the Venezuelan capital and earlier this year was invited to the inauguration of the new president of Brazil, Lula da Silvaalthough the Venezuelan leader finally did not attend the ceremony.
From Europe there were also movements. french president Emmanuel Macron spoke with Maduro himself in the Egypt Climate Summit and he expressed his desire to “talk a little more and start bilateral work that is useful for the country and the region.” A few days later, the Maduro government sat down to negotiate in Mexico with the Venezuelan opposition for the first time in many years. Finally, Spaina key piece of Latin America, appointed ambassador to Caracas in December after this position will be vacant from 2020.
Venezuela also ended 2022 with one of the best GDP figures in recent years, registering growth of 15%, according to official figures and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the Gross Domestic Product will grow by 6 percent this year. The Venezuelan economy has been opening up to the free market and has strengthened the private sector, freeing up imports, relaxing price controls and allowing the use of the US dollar.
The good news for Maduro continued to come earlier this year, when heThe Venezuelan opposition -divided and confronted again- put an end to the interim government of Juan Guaidówho had proclaimed himself president in January 2019 and had been recognized by many countries as the head of state.
After contemplating the failure of his predecessor’s policy of isolation and maximum pressure, The Biden administration wants the Venezuelan government to advance in the call for presidential elections in which the entire spectrum of opposition parties can participate with guarantees. Meanwhile, Maduro is willing to work to normalize relations with the United States, despite the fact that there are still sanctions that affect his country. Analysts consider that full reintegration into the international community will depend on an agreement with the opposition parties for the presidential elections scheduled for 2024.