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This weekend it was revealed that high officials of the Biden administration held a secret meeting with Maduro in the Miraflores palace in Caracas, according to a Reuters report. The Biden White House asked for some electoral guarantees, broad reforms on the Venezuelan oil sector, and a public rebuke of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in exchange for the temporary lift of some of the financial sanctions imposed on the Chavista regime. The secret Maduro meeting ended without an agreement.
The move by the Biden administration would represent a 180-degree change on the U.S. policy on Venezuela, which has sought to isolate the Chavista regime and has not recognized Maduro as the legitimate president of the country since 2019. According to the report, and other media outlets, Biden’s willingness to talk to Maduro seeks to find an alternative supplier of oil and to take an ally away from Putin at the same time.
Although the administration has yet to release any official statement addressing the face-to-face meeting with Maduro, the reports have caused a wave of rejection by conservative politicians and pundits across the country.
Florida Republicans lead the charge against Biden-Maduro détente
With one of the highest Venezuelan-American populations in the country, it is no surprise that all the top Republicans in Florida have expressed their strong opposition to Biden’s negotiations with the Chavista regime.
Governor Ron DeSantis, via Twitter, said on Sunday that “it is wrong for the Biden Administration to beg for oil from Venezuela & legitimize Maduro’s communist regime during an official visit.”
Senator Marco Rubio, who has maintained a ferocious opposition to authoritarian regimes in Latin America throughout his career, has made several criticisms of Biden’s apparent plan to restore economic relations with the Chavista regime. Rubio has posted numerous tweets lambasting the rapprochement, saying that the meeting has been a “huge PR boost for (the) #MaduroRegime” and that the encounter has been a “demoralizing betrayal” to those who have opposed the Chavista regime.
Senator Rick Scott also attacked the Biden administration secret meeting in Caracas, saying that “the only thing the Biden admin should be discussing with Maduro is the time of his resignation. Nicolas Maduro is a genocidal tyrant just like Putin” he also remembered the administration that Maduro has helped “narcoterrorists working to destabilize Colombia & LATAM”
As of the moment this article was published, none of the major Democratic candidates for governor or Senator have released any statement or posted any tweet addressing the secret meeting with Maduro by officials of the Biden administration.
Conservative politicians criticize Biden’s dependence on oil from dictatorships, call for an increase in domestic oil production
Florida Republicans were not the only ones criticizing the secret US-Maduro meeting, as a slew of conservative politicians and pundits from all across the country also lambasted the prospects of reducing sanctions in exchange of Venezuelan oil.
Experts and analysts have also questioned the usefulness of the secret meeting with Maduro
The secret meeting has not only been criticized by conservative politicians and pundits, but political analysts and oil experts have also either directly condemned the move or questioned the positive effects that importing Venezuelan oil will have on the American market.
Ryan Berg, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies called the initiative a “strategic blunder.” Berg said in a Twitter thread that the decision to prioritize foreign oil over domestic is “politically unpalatable,” questioned how would buying Venezuela’s oil actually reduce Russian influence and military assistance to the Chavista regime, and also highlighted the terrible ecological track record of PDVSA.
There have also been questions about how much oil could Venezuela export to the United States. In an interview with Americas Quarterly, energy policy expert Francisco Monaldi said that Venezuela’s oil industry has very little potential to replace the 7 million barrels per day that Russia exports meaning that “Venezuela’s additional production would be irrelevant to compensate for a major disruption of Russian exports.” Monaldi also made clear that there would be “very little” effect on the gas prices that American consumers are currently paying.
Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group political risk firm, also tweeted a scathing criticism of the Biden Administration’s secret talks with the Chavista regime, saying that he would “support expanding U.S. oil & gas production well before recognizing the illegitimate Maduro government in Venezuela. U.S allies across the board in Latin America surely agree here.”
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.