The once floundering Venezuelan economy, the failure of which has put millions of Venezuelans on the breadline and sent millions more fleeing starvation, is regaining traction as US lifts crippling sanctions and Venezuela becomes able to sell its oil to once blocked markets. Already, India, China, and United States have started to import crude from Venezuela bringing the glimmer of hope that the Venezuelan economy will be flooded with Petro dollars once again like it was in the good old days of the 90s.
But while 2024 offers new hope to Venezuela, it simultaneously presents some of the country’s greatest challenges. This year will be pivotal in determining the future of the Venezuelan economy and government. The US has lifted sanctions on the ground that Nicolas Maduro will facilitate free and fair elections for the people of Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro loves when the sanctions are lifted but he hates free and fair elections which he knows he can’t win by a long shot. That puts him between a rock and a hard place – a spot from which he will have to wriggle hard to get out of.
It is this wriggling that Nicolas Maduro will have to do to hold on to power that might bring fresh woes to Venezuela. If Maduro facilitates free and fair elections, it will predictably see Maria Corina Machado taking hold of the reigns of power and Maduro exiting the stage – ending nearly 24 years of rigged communist rule in Venezuela, and ushering in a new era of right wing capitalist prosperity. But will Maduro give up the reigns of power in exchange for the freedom and prosperity of Venezuela?
In neighboring Guyana, about one hundred thousand Venezuelans have sought refuge. Many Venezuelan women were forced into prostitution in Guyana and many more were trapped into a life of drudgery. Many Venezuelans, both men and women, have filled gaps in the Guyanese workforce and provided much needed labor and expertise at a low cost. With the new rise of the Venezuelan economy, many Venezuelans will be returning home to rebuild their cherished homeland. This will force the Guyanese population to step up their game and work harder or import labor from other countries.
Venezuela, the oil capital of the world, boasts the world’s largest proven oil reserves overall. Venezuela currently has over 300 billion barrels of proven oil reserves ready to sell to the world. This dwarfs Guyana’s mere 11 billion barrels and counting. But it doesn’t stop there: Venezuela also has some of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations, enormous reserves of gold, diamond, ore, bauxite, and other minerals. With proper management and a democratic government, Venezuela could quickly regain its status as the richest country in South America, and possibly the world. Guyana and Suriname have also joined this race.