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Venezuela will join BRICS, then what?

"Venezuela formally applies to BRICS"... "China welcomes Venezuela's intention to join BRICS"... "Brazil's Lula favors bid by Venezuela to join BRICS"... "Nations queue up to join BRICS, to promote 'multipolar world'"... "Maduro meets Dilma and says that “sooner or later Venezuela will be part of the BRICS”"... Venezuela joining BRICS is one of those questions of when rather than if. Having missed the recent admission cohort and given its own peculiarities, it is a certainty that whenever the next group of countries are admitted to BRICS Venezuela will be part of it, and when it does, it will bring U.S. sanctions to its final resting place.

Russia is due to take over BRICS' Chairmanship in 2024. Putin's plan have already been laid out: “Strengthening multilateralism for equitable global development and security”. The world has witnessed Putin's idea of multilateralism in Ukraine. But how about the other partners: India, China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia? Will they bring a measure of restraint to Nicolas Maduro's grip? Just have a browse of where does BRICS stand with regards to rule of law, human rights and democracy.

As it has been repeatedly argued here, when it comes to Venezuela the U.S. is nothing but a barking dog. Short of a war of agression a la Putin -which will never happen- it has no real power to disrupt in-country political dynamics. Its foreign policy blunders vis-a-vis chavismo are over two decades long. Back in the days when the policy was "let's see what Hugo Chavez does rather than what he says", it saw how Venezuelan democracy got dismantled bit by bit while witnessing issuance of a debt pile that kept growing. It saw how Chavez aligned himself with BRICS precursors China & Russia. The State Department employed its characteristic "can only deal with one problem at a time" and did absolutely nothing to sweeten, or to try and improve relations, for it never considered Venezuela as a problem.

Then Chavez died. Then Trump happened and what was already a defunct relationship soured even more with Treasury's paper tiger sanctions and microphone diplomacy, which Maduro used to cement his grip. Now the opposition is in the worst place since chavismo got to power in 1999 and there's not a single bit of leverage than can force Maduro to move in any direction.

Forget about concessions. Negotiations will happen only on his terms. The possibility of free and fair elections are as viable as Putin conceding defeat in Ukraine. It takes a level of insane fundamentalism to believe otherwise.

Europe, in the meanwhile, is seeking accommodation with Maduro. A German state-owned company has already re-established trade with Russia, despite EU-wide sanctions against it. Spain dismantled its intelligence gathering work on Venezuela and is only interested in mending relations, and ensuring that REPSOL gets a piece of the action. Ditto Italy / ENI. Stateside, Chevron and American bond holders are Maduro's best PR.

Maduro is perfectly placed to weather the rest of this brief thunderstorm. Like his Chinese counterpart, he is playing the long game. With the real possibility of a Trump return to the White House he can easily wait. Maduro knows that the U.S.' fifteen minutes are up. Time is on his side. BRICS countries are and will continue helping, even without full membership. When Venezuela is finally admitted, what will the U.S. government possibly do to "restore democracy"?


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