Multiple major corporate media outlets in America reported this weekend that President Joe Biden sent a delegation to Venezuela to meet socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, reportedly to discuss buying Venezuelan oil.
The price of crude oil has skyrocketed internationally in light of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. While the war began in 2014, hostilities escalated last month after Russian strongman Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a full-scale invasion of the country – including the capital, Kyiv – in an alleged effort to “de-Nazify” the country. In his speech announcing the military operation, Putin claimed that Ukraine had “no tradition” of being a sovereign state and its existence was a fabrication and “mistake” by Russian communists.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has loudly refuted Putin’s claims that his country is run by Nazis by noting that he, a democratically elected head of state, is Jewish and the descendent of World War II veterans who fought against Nazis. In response, the Russian government has referred to Zelensky himself as a “neo-Nazi.”
Maduro, who has ruled the country since 2013 but lost his legitimacy in 2018 and simply refused to leave power, has vocally stood alongside Putin during the last two weeks of his military operation. Maduro has echoed accusations of Nazism against Zelensky; used his Twitter account to promote false information, such as sharing a clip from Zelensky’s sitcom Servant of the People and claiming it was a presidential campaign ad; and blamed the United States for the war between Russia and Ukraine.
The far-left newspaper New York Times first reported, citing anonymous individuals, that the Biden administration had chosen to reach out to Maduro with a delegation to Caracas on Saturday.
“Senior U.S. officials are traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with the government of President [sic] Nicolás Maduro, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Times reported, “as the Biden administration steps up efforts to separate Russia from its remaining international allies amid a widening standoff over Ukraine.”
CBS News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post all subsequently published similar reports, again citing anonymous people, claiming that the senior delegation was on its way to Miraflores palace, which Maduro illegally occupies. The Post claimed the intent of the visit was explicitly to discuss America buying Venezuelan oil to bring down domestic gasoline prices and attempt to cut off Russia,
“A group of senior U.S. officials flew to Venezuela on Saturday for a meeting with President Nicolás Maduro’s government to discuss the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports,” the Post claimed, “as the Biden administration weighs a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas, according to two people familiar with the situation.”
“The Biden administration is seeking to ease oil sanctions on Venezuela as part of a broader U.S. strategy to temper oil prices that have skyrocketed because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal similarly alleged. “U.S. officials began rare face-to-face meetings with Venezuelan officials in Caracas over the weekend, with a view to allowing Venezuelan crude oil back on to the open international market, these people said.”
Neither the Biden administration nor the Maduro regime confirmed any of these reports.
Venezuela possesses the world’s second-largest known oil reserves, after the United States. The Biden administration has stridently rejected tapping into American oil to ease skyrocketing gas prices.
Unlike American oil, Venezuelan crude is notoriously heavy and difficult to refine, leading to gasoline shortages in Venezuela itself due to socialist mismanagement stunting the productivity of government refineries.
The Biden administration indicated this weekend that it is considering sanctions on the Russian oil industry in an attempt to weaken its ability to continue waging war in Ukraine.
“When it comes to oil, Russian oil, I was on the phone yesterday with the president and other members of the Cabinet on exactly the subject,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Sunday. “And we are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets. That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”
Buying Venezuelan oil to replace Russian oil may result in the money flowing back to Moscow anyway, however, given Maduro’s close ties to Putin. Russia has loaned Venezuela billions of dollars to keep the Maduro regime afloat, resulting in years of negotiations to pressure Maduro into sending as much money back to the Putin regime as possible. Maduro has effusively expressed his intention of supporting the Russian war on Ukraine in the past two weeks, a stance American purchases of his oil may aid.
“The extremist right that has taken over the governments of Ukraine has never been interested in resolving conflicts via dialogue, has never been interested in peace, has never been interested in respecting Russia,” Maduro claimed during a broadcast in late February immediately after the Russian assault on Kyiv began. “That’s why Venezuela announces its complete backing to President Vladimir Putin in the defense of peace of Russia in the defense of peace in that region, in the valiant peace of his people and his fatherland.”
“All the support for President Putin, all the support for Russia,” Maduro emphasized.
Sostuve una conversación telefónica con el presidente, Vladimir Putin, le ratifiqué la condena de Venezuela a las acciones desestabilizadoras de la #OTAN. Reiteré la firme disposición en favor del entendimiento y el diálogo, como vía para la preservación de la Paz. pic.twitter.com/nTJW5o3jL6
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) March 1, 2022
Maduro also accused Zelensky of being a “fascist” that came to power in a “coup.” Unlike Maduro, who rose to head of government after the death of socialist dictator (and failed coup plotter) Hugo Chávez, Zelensky won the free and fair Ukrainian presidential election of 2019 with over 70 percent of the vote.