China is the world’s largest oil importer and Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. For these two reasons alone, the economic relationship between the nations will inevitably grow. In fact, we hope for even more.
There are many areas besides oil in which they can mutually benefit from trade and cooperation in the future.
For that relationship to blossom, however, Venezuela has to change and abandon its model of governance that’s ruined it economically.
The country is suffering a devastating humanitarian crisis: At least 87 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty, subject to 90 percent shortage in food and medical supplies. Basic services such as electricity and water have collapsed. The inflation rate has exceeded 2.6 million percent in January and threatens to reach 10 million percent by the end of this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In addition, Venezuela has become one of the most dangerous and corrupt nations in the world. The state no longer controls its territory: Irregular groups, such as the Colombian National Liberation Army, are operating in at least 12 states. Consequently, millions of Venezuelans have fled in what’s become Latin America’s largest mass-migration, surpassing in numbers the Syrian refugee crisis. International bodies such as the Organization of American States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch have corroborated its suffering on multiple occasions.
Even its oil production has drastically shrunk; it is now producing barely one-third what it did in 1999. The refineries have been destroyed, as has much of its basic infrastructure. For the country to recover, it will require many investments.
I trust that China, whose leaders know exactly what’s happening here, will contribute as the great power that it is and help facilitate the political transition that we so urgently need. Nicolas Maduro has lost his popular support and we want to see a peaceful transition as soon as possible. We have already been in contact with Chinese authorities who know our position and disposition to work together in the future.
Our goal is for Venezuela to be a stable nation once again, a source of prosperity that ensures security to investors and that fulfills its commitments. We envision a country where legitimate foreign investments are honored and protected according to our legal framework and also international agreements to which we have committed.
Venezuelans want a peaceful political transition without external military interference. As one of the two great economic powers in the world, China can contribute constructively to that cause.
China is a fundamental global actor and we are convinced that we must maintain and strengthen relationships with all actors. Chinese development projects in Venezuela have shrunk as they’ve been subject to corruption or defaults in recent years. We want to put an end to the looting that Chinese investors have suffered.
To launch the economic reconstruction of Venezuela, it is first essential to reestablish the rule of law. For that purpose, we have proposed a clear roadmap: First, the end of Maduro’s usurpation, followed by a transitional government and free and fair elections.
Europe, Canada, the US and most of our neighboring countries in Latin America have supported us in our effort to reestablish institutions in our country. They fervently wish for the normalization and democratization of Venezuela.
The moment has come for Beijing to add its voice to this chorus. China’s influence in our region has grown tremendously over the past few years. It’s in its own interest to help bring about the climate of peace, stability and well-being to which we all aspire. If it does so, it will find a willing, open and more reliable partner in Caracas.
Juan Guaido is the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly and the interim president of Venezuela as of January 2019. He has been recognized by the United States and some 50 other nations. -- Ed.