Name? Nicolás Maduro Moros
Westphalian identity? Venezuelan
Why is he in the news? Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday that the government would hold free and fair elections (coming in 2024) under the condition that all sanctions on the country are lifted. This comes ahead of a quickly moving willingness from the President to return to negotiate in Mexico City, where negotiations with the opposition were ceased last year.
Why do we care? Our team has been following Maduro since 2020, and has watched closely since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly after OPEC limited the production of oil last month. The global energy crisis puts Maduro in a good position to negotiate with the opposition, as the stability of his government, and the integration of Venezuelan energy markets into the world’s grid can benefit almost everyone.
Why should you care? Maduro’s government, much leftover from former president Hugo Chavez, has presided over one of the worst humanitarian crises, the biggest mass exodus of the region, and a breakdown of diplomatic relations with its closest partners. Putting Venezuela back on the map has already seen quick economic recovery this year. The dollarization of the country has stabilised soaring hyperinflation, and the growing output of hydrocarbons, with their higher global prices, have caused the highest economic growth in the region. You should care 7/10.
Who else cares? US President Joe Biden has been quietly orchestrating the return of Venezuela to the world energy supply since February. Although the lifting of sanctions may seem like a hardline negotiating point against the US, if the negotiations go through, Biden will have secured international oversight of the Venezuelan elections in 2024, and access to Venezuelan oil reserves, whose infrastructure has been recently invested in greatly by Iran.
Any further comments? Maduro stopped oil-for-debt shipments to Europe, and instead wants refined oil from Spain and Italy for crude oil, because Venezuela’s own refineries are non-functional.