Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro continues to hold onto power through resources obtained from narco-trafficking and illegal gold mining, according to Lisa Viscidi, director of the Energy, Climate Change and Extractive Industries Program at the Inter-American Dialogue.
Comments from Lisa Viscidi:
In a telephone interview with the Express last week, Viscidi said that when the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela, the idea was to cut off oil revenues in order to hurt Maduro financially and push him out of power.
“The sanctions worked because they made it much harder for Venezuela to produce and export its oil, but the country found other sources of income from drug trafficking and illegal gold mining, allowing Maduro to hold onto power,” she said.
She noted Maduro’s “extremely repressive strategies” aided his ability to remain in power. In addition, the regime’s access to intelligence has helped it prevent a potential coup.
“There have been attempts to overthrow Maduro, but they’ve all failed. These illegal sources of income are how he holds onto power and why I think he will be able to continue doing so for a while,” she said.
When questioned about the economic crisis in Venezuela and gasoline shortages, Viscidi said importing fuel oil cargoes from Iran is not a permanent solution.
“The tankers from Iran will help Maduro, as Venezuela desperately needs fuel. I think the shipments from Iran demonstrate that Venezuela is still able to eschew sanctions by turning to its allies, especially other countries sanctioned by the United States. However, the volumes of oil are small compared to how much the country needs and it’s not clear that Iran can and will fulfill all of Venezuela’s fuel requirements. This is not a permanent solution for Maduro,” she said.