Follow us on social

Screen-shot-2022-11-08-at-4.47.32-pm

COP 27: Are global leaders warming to Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro?

John Kerry spoke with him in a ‘impromptu’ meeting while Emmanuel Macron called him ‘president,’ leaving Juan Guaido on the curb.

Reporting | Latin America

After years of trying to isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the United States and its European allies appear ready to change their approach to dealing with the embattled leftist leader.

In a seemingly impromptu meeting at the COP 27 summit in Egypt, French President Emmanuel Macron told Maduro that he “would love it if we could speak at greater length,” signaling his interest in helping to mediate the political crisis in Venezuela. Macron also referred to Maduro as "president," affirming the European Union’s decision to stop recognizing opposition figure Juan Guaido as the country’s leader.

https://twitter.com/telesurenglish/status/1589671706939228161?s=20&t=1OqnIlN6No7FM1azH6v8sQ

Maduro also held a warm conversation with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whom the Venezuelan leader invited to visit Caracas.

Even John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, spoke with Maduro on the sidelines of the conference. The brief interaction was the highest-level U.S.-Venezuela conversation since March, when the top White House advisor on Latin America met with Maduro in Caracas.

The State Department later said Kerry’s conversation was “not planned or substantive in any way,” and a video of their chat seems to back up that claim. But the optics of the exchange, along with Maduro’s more productive meetings with European leaders, appear representative of a broader shift in Western policy toward Caracas.

“I saw Macron as trying to encourage Maduro to be part of a political solution in the region,” said William LeoGrande, a professor at American University. “That probably represents how the Biden administration is thinking about the way forward in Venezuela, even if they don't want to say it out loud.”

The policy of isolating Maduro, which started in 2019 after elections that the West viewed as a sham, has steadily lost support both within and outside of Venezuela. The country’s political and economic situation has deteriorated in the intervening years, in part because of comprehensive U.S. sanctions on the regime and the fact that the UK continues to hold more than $1 billion of Venezuela’s gold reserves.

But the leftist leader has shown himself to be more resilient than Washington originally assumed. As a result, many Latin American leaders have soured on the idea of ousting him, with new leaders in Brazil and Colombia pushing for a diplomatic end to the crisis in Caracas. And, as Russia’s war in Ukraine has driven concerns about global oil prices, Western leaders have begun to soften their stance on the internal politics of the biggest oil producer in the region.

President Joe Biden has been slow to move away from his predecessor’s policy toward Venezuela, likely because of the domestic political complexities associated with U.S. Latin America policy. But Biden has made changes at the margins, including opening up a backchannel that led to a prisoner swap last month.

In the meantime, Macron appears happy to take on a bigger role in Western policy toward Caracas.

“Macron seems to enjoy the role of diplomatic broker,” LeoGrande said. “He's played the same role in the conflict in Ukraine by sort of being the West’s channel to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and this seems potentially similar.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro meets with French President Emmanuel Macron at the COP 27 conference in Egypt. (Screengrab via Telesur)
Reporting | Latin America
Russian warships are in Cuba, try not to overreact

People watch Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov as it enters Havana’s bay, Cuba, June 12, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

Russian warships are in Cuba, try not to overreact

Latin America

The news that four Russian warships are in Havana for naval exercises brings to mind the old mariner’s aphorism, “Any port in a storm.”

Cuba is in desperate need of economic help, and Russia has been providing it. The result is a deepening partnership that has geopolitical echoes of the Cold War, although the Cubans are now drawn to Moscow less by ideological affinity than economic necessity.

keep readingShow less
That stinks: Global opinion of US goes down the toilet

Vilnius, Lithuania. 12th July 2023. Joe Biden, President of United States of America. Nato Summit 2023. (ArChe1993 / shutterstock)

That stinks: Global opinion of US goes down the toilet

Global Crises

Dragged down in important part by disapproval over the U.S. position on the Gaza war, the popular image of the United States abroad has declined over the past year, according to a new poll of public opinion in 34 countries released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

The survey, the latest in an annual series that dates back more than two decades, also found that international confidence in U.S. democracy has fallen. A median of four in ten of the more than 40,000 respondents said U.S. democracy used to be a good model for other countries to follow but no longer is. That view was most pronounced in the ten European countries covered by the poll.

keep readingShow less
US lifts ban on Neo-Nazi linked Azov Brigade in Ukraine

The Idea of the Nation symbol used by the 12th Azov Assault Brigade of Ukraines National Guard is pictured during a rally held in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the units foundation, Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine. Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 05, 2024. Photo by Dmytro Smolienko/Ukrinform/ABACAPRESS.COM

US lifts ban on Neo-Nazi linked Azov Brigade in Ukraine

QiOSK

The State Department announced that it has lifted its ban on the use of American weapons by the notorious Azov Brigade in Ukraine, an ultra-nationalist outfit widely described as “neo-fascist," even "neo-Nazi."

The group was initially formed in 2014 as a volunteer militia to fight against Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists in the eastern Donbas region, and later incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine, under the purview of the Interior Ministry.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest