Mexico City, Mexico, November 8, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called on the global community to act “radically and decisively” in the face of the impending climate catastrophe during his speech Tuesday at the XXVII Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Maduro’s 18-minute intervention largely focused on the urgency of the climate change crisis and the need to attend to the most vulnerable and those most hurt by its impact.
“We must nail down, without delay or bureaucratic barriers, a fund for climatic losses and damages […] Let us fine-tune the mechanisms so that financial aid is direct, fair, timely and expeditious so that compensation for environmental damage reaches the most affected peoples,” said Maduro.
The Venezuelan president furthermore demanded action to preserve the Amazon and its biodiversity, calling for the world to turn to Indigenous peoples for guidance.
“It is the Indigenous peoples who must teach us how to preserve and how to live with nature,” declared Maduro.
Following a meeting alongside Colombia’s Gustavo Petro and Suriname’s Chan Santokhi, Maduro called for the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization to resume its work in defense of the world’s largest rainforest.
During his speech, Maduro additionally pointed to the capitalist mode of production as the root cause of the climate change crisis.
“The imbalance and environmental crisis created in nature are comparable to the conditions of inequality and injustice that capitalism has created against humanity,” Maduro stated. “A system that normalizes the exploitation of human beings does not have the ethical basis to respect other forms of existence.”
Venezuelan officials have pointed to recent heavy rains and floods as a consequence of climate change. However, the Maduro government has also faced severe criticism from environmental groups for the significant expansion of mining activities in the resource-rich Orinoco Mining Arc in Bolívar state. With US sanctions forcing Caracas to search for alternative income sources, the extraction of gold and other minerals has grown, with consequences for the environment and indigenous communities.
On the sidelines of the COP27 gathering, Maduro had a number of exchanges with world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, and US Climate Change Envoy John Kerry.
In his conversation with Maduro, Macron committed to speaking with the Venezuelan president in the near future to discuss a “bilateral agenda”. The exchange was particularly notable given the strong support the French president once gave to self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaidó.
Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Costa was heard explicitly talking about high oil and gas costs in his country. Maduro invited Costa to visit Venezuela, which has a sizable Portuguese population, but did not offer Venezuelan energy supplies.
During his time in Egypt, Maduro likewise held bilateral encounters with Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, as well as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Maduro’s friendly exchanges with global figures stand in stark contrast to the undiplomatic treatment previously extended to the Venezuelan president. The informal conversations coincided with a looming energy crisis in Europe after the conflict in Ukraine halted critical hydrocarbon supplies from Russia.
In June, on the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Macron confronted US President Joe Biden, calling for Venezuela and its close ally Iran to return to the oil market.
European energy struggles have nonetheless done little to change US foreign policy toward Venezuela. Biden has largely maintained his predecessor’s “maximum pressure” strategy toward Venezuela, despite having sent official delegations to meet with Maduro and other top officials.
The US has moved only slightly on the issue of sanctions, granting oil-for-debt permits to two Europeanoil companies operating in the South American country. US energy giant Chevron is lobbying for an expanded sanctions waiver once its current one expires in December.
The US continues to recognize Guaidó as president, despite the fact that the opposition figure commands no authority inside Venezuela and is being challenged by other anti-government factions.
Washington has made the lifting of its unilateral coercive measures contingent on the resumption of talks between the government and the hardline opposition. The dialogue was suspended when the Maduro administration withdrew from the process in October 2021 after government envoy Alex Saab was forcefully flown from Cape Verde to the United States to face money laundering charges. Talks, being held in Mexico and mediated by Norway, are rumored to resume soon.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.