Venezuela a microcosm of Latin American conundrum

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/1 23:33:39

Venezuela went to the polls for a constitutional assembly on Sunday, and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela won. The US called the election illegitimate and announced sanctions on the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro showed contempt toward Washington's criticism and its threat of sanctions. "I will not obey imperial orders. I do not obey any foreign government. I'm a free president," he said.

Since former president Hugo Chávez died in 2013, the crisis in Venezuela has been exacerbated by its economy and politics. The opposition took control of parliament in 2015 and defied the administration constantly. The ruling party tried to revise the constitution through an election to bring the country out of its predicament, but it was met with strong resistance from the opposition.

In the Chávez era, high oil prices enriched the country, which helped it exercise its independence. It was also partly the reason why the left-wing government could rule many Latin American countries, as they were able to resist US economic pressure. Yet these countries have been hit hard by plummeting oil prices, and Venezuela is no exception.

Without a fully developed industrialization, Latin American economies depend heavily on resources. Many countries are mired in problems, such as sharp wealth gaps and social rifts, yet the political system they adopted from the West has failed to address these problems. Washington is only concerned about taking control of the continent as its backyard, and is not interested in helping them.

Farmers and poor urban people support the United Socialist Party led by Maduro, while the rich and urban middle class welcome the opposition. Deep-rooted social divisions have led to a political confrontation in Venezuela, which differs greatly from the US political landscape, in which the Republicans and the Democrats take turns to govern.

The left-wing governments in Latin America generally have an uneasy relationship with Washington, and supporting the right wing has become the tone of the US' Latin American policy. Ousting Maduro and dumping the political legacy of Chávez seems to be the US' next objective.

Under these circumstances, regardless of who wins, Venezuela will be hard-pressed to see light at the end of the tunnel. Social divisions cannot be solved, and US intervention will not stop. Venezuela may be dragged into a protracted political battle.

Venezuela is friendly to and an important partner of China in Latin America. Regardless of who governs the country, trade with China will be beneficial to Venezuelans. Thus, maintaining cooperation with China transcends partisan interests in Venezuela.

Political disturbance means risks for Chinese investments and China must learn to deal with it. China cannot give up its economic presence in Latin America just because of its political instability.

The economies of China and Latin America complement each other. China's presence in the region does not involve a geopolitical motive. China will not interfere in the political process of Venezuela or any other Latin American country. It is hoped Latin American countries can overcome the difficulties and enjoy the benefits of cooperating with China.

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