By Gustavo Arias Retana/Diálogo November 01, 2018 In mid-September 2018, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visited one of the few international partners his government has left: China. Maduro sought funding to give his administration some relief. Although he returned without a loan, he signed about 20 agreements leaving Venezuela in an even more dependent position. “Venezuela was the main gate of entry for China into Latin America and the Caribbean, and still is,” José Ricardo Thomas, political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela, who holds a doctorate in International Affairs from Peking University, told Diálogo. “There was a political-military elite gave the country away to China for personal gain, negligence, unsound geopolitical perception, and lack of nationalism.” “Venezuela is at risk of becoming ultra-dependent on China, which seems to have effectively happened. It could become just a bargaining chip for superpowers’ interests,” said Mariano De Alba, a Venezuelan lawyer specialized in international law and international relations. “Venezuela became a country whose partnerships do not conform with Venezuelan interests, but to political and ideological affinities. The current scenario is one where Venezuela lost almost all its independence.” Oil is what matters Although he did not elaborate on the details of the agreement with China, Maduro said one of the goals is to stabilize Venezuelan oil production. According to De Alba, the objective isn’t new, because China’s main interest in Venezuela is to increase its participation in energy production. “They are interested in the energy sector, especially oil, gas, and raw materials such as valuable minerals. Then, to a lesser extent, their interest is in infrastructure and construction,” De Alba said. “Obviously, any world power wants to have access to key raw materials, such as oil, to maintain its pace of economic growth. Therefore, China somehow takes advantage of the void that exists in Venezuela.” According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Venezuela sent China 330,000 barrels of oil to pay part of its debt in 2017. In the first semester of 2018, oil production in Venezuela fell by 20 percent. Cyclic debt The relationship between China and Venezuela is very tight, De Alba said, due to the debts the South American country incurred. China granted credit to Venezuela during the last 10 years for at least $62 billion—Venezuela still owes $23 billion. The South American country pays its debts with oil. However, in the last three years the Chinese government exempted Maduro from repaying the outstanding loans and only collected interest. “Maduro’s problem now is that the financial relationship between Venezuela and China has gone on several years, and the Chinese government realized that the Venezuelan regime is neither capable nor willing to implement proper economic reforms to seek a balance and get back on track toward economic growth,” De Alba said. “Now Maduro turns to China, but the Chinese are aware of the high risks of investing in Venezuela. Consequently, they agreed to give limited funding to their companies operating in Venezuela to maintain oil production going and guarantee the shipment of crude oil to their country.” The loans tie Venezuela to China, Thomas said. There is also uncertainty about what the deals include, as both sides conducted secret negotiations. “The challenge for most Venezuelans should also be in managing the obscure credit operations [late President Hugo] Chávez and Maduro undertook. Currently, the content of oil contracts is unknown: flows, compensations, interest rates, prices assigned to pay off the debt, etc.,” Thomas said. “Something similar is happening with the agreements signed on natural resources and raw materials. It’s unknown how much China is allowed to interfere. Finally, in case of bankruptcy or regime change, which court will the Chinese use to claim the millions of dollars they granted?” Geopolitical game Thomas points out that although China tries to focus its relationship with Venezuela on economic terms, its geopolitical interest in the country, as part of its global expansion strategy, is undeniable. “It’s all a calculated, pre-established move within the support and action plan involving Beijing, Caracas, Istanbul, Havana, Tehran, and Moscow. The former carefully funds and coordinates some actions of the rest in favor of its geostrategy to control the majority of states, territories, markets, and continents to the detriment of the United States,” Thomas said.
Tweet 376 Views no discussions Share Share NewsRegional National building code and guidelines implemented in St Vincent by: – October 6, 2011 Sharing is caring! Share Minister of Housing Clayton Burgin. Image via: caribbeanelections.comKINGSTOWN, St Vincent — On Sunday, St Vincent and the Grenadines became the first of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries to formally implement the national building code and guidelines.The building code is the minimum acceptable standard used to regulate the design, construction and maintenance of buildings for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the building users.The Physical Planning Unit within the Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Lands and Surveys will be charged with the responsibility of administering the building regulations. To signal the formal implementation of the building regulations, the Ministry of Housing held a media briefing.Minister of Housing Clayton Burgin, speaking at the media briefing, called on all citizens, especially those in the construction sector to appreciate the value and necessity of the building regulations in order to derive maximum benefits.Burgin said the building code and guidelines are designed to assist all citizens to own a sound stock of buildings, which can withstand natural and man-made disaster. The minister added that the implementation of the regulations is expected to have a positive impact on the local construction sector.Meanwhile, Physical Planning Officer Shelford Stowe pointed out that the building guidelines might be used for the design and construction of simple buildings, such as, private dwellings and small retail shops, less than 2, 500 sq. ft. in gross area and not more than 2 stories. For structures beyond 2,500 sq. ft., Stowe said that the building code, which is more technical, would be applied.Under these new building regulations, the officials from the Physical Planning Unit will conduct inspection at eight stages before, during and after construction. Additionally, plans will now have to include a plumbing as well as an electrical layout. Upon final inspection a certificate of occupancy will be issued.Burgin encouraged residents to consult the Physical Planning Unit if they are planning to construct and to seek professional advice in order to adhere to the national building regulations. In the end, he said, “you will be happier in the buildings you construct, whether for dwelling or conducting business.”Caribbean News Now