Rodríguez proposes easing of sanctions and use of resources to deal with Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis
Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez, director of Oil For Venezuela and one of the 25 signatories of the open letter to President Joe Biden, reiterated in an interview with Noticiero Digital his proposal to rethink the US’s economic sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector under the scheme of using oil revenues to buy food and medicine, and thus alleviate the serious humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is experiencing.
In the current situation in Venezuela, the ideal would be for Maduro to return to the democratic path, but if not, what is the minimum that you would demand from the ruler in exchange for eliminating oil sanctions?
– This is not what we said in the letter. The proposal, which I have made from Oil for Venezuela during the last two years, is that agreements must be sought to alleviate the serious economic and humanitarian crisis that our nation is going through, and that these agreements must be placed outside the political diatribe. And that, furthermore, there is a direct link between the humanitarian space and the economic space, because the humanitarian crisis is the result of the economic crisis.
In Venezuela, during the last eight years, malnutrition has skyrocketed; poverty has skyrocketed; health indicators have deteriorated, and all of this is directly related to the fall in 2013, due to our nation’s exports, which fell from 94 billion dollars in 2012 to less than 8 billion dollars in 2020. Therefore, our crisis has an economic root and to solve this humanitarian and economic crisis, Venezuela has to reinsert itself into the world economy.
Now, we have made concrete proposals that do not imply giving resources to the Maduro regime, to ensure that the resources that enter with an opening of the US oil market or the international market that would arrive through a relaxation of sanctions are made under a framework in which the use of resources is intended to attend to the humanitarian emergency: the purchase of food, medicines, supplies for hospitals, agricultural supplies to boost food in our country, and that this occurs under international supervision and transparency standards .
What we propose [in the letter] is to separate everything that has to do with dealing with the humanitarian crisis from the political struggle. The political negotiation must continue and the parties can continue in the negotiations, but what we want is that Venezuelans, and much less vulnerable Venezuelans, not be made to pay the cost of the conflict.
In the event that economic sanctions are lifted and oil production increases, what is to be done with that money? Does it go to the chavista regime?
– You have to separate different effects. Resources that are used directly in the production of oil, that are destined to the purchase of machinery, equipment, even payments, that, of course, is going to generate economic growth and that is going to generate increases in tax collection and that will go hand in hand with the government and there is no way to prevent it. [That is to say] The investment money will generate economic activity in private companies, which in turn generate increases in tax collection.
In that sense, yes, a higher collection and a recovery of the economy is something that will generate more money for all Venezuelans and of course for the Government. It would be absurd to oppose that. Are we going to take care of destroying the economy and that there is no economic growth so that the Government does not have tax collection? No. Our most basic point is that the bulk of the money generated from oil exports can be identified and can be subject to international observation. So, if a US company invests through a joint venture of the State, and increases its oil production, this will result in higher sales and the tax revenues from those sales must be used within the scheme that we have proposed [of oil for food and medicines].
We have also proposed this scheme for frozen funds abroad, funds such as those of the Bank of England, such as those of the special funds of the International Monetary Fund, money that could be used to boost our economy and make it grow, and thus carry out an economic recovery and that it be done with specifications that guarantee that the resources obtained from oil exports are directed to attend to the humanitarian crisis that is done under international supervision and with totally depoliticized criteria, and that these resources are not used to finance products of the Clap program or political programs but that the distribution is made through humanitarian agencies so that it reaches all Venezuelans without political distinction.