top of page

The Assumption that Venezuela Residents Welcome Chinese Enterprises is Far from Reality

On this issue, we invited Obumneke Bob Muoneke for an interview. Obumneke Bob Muoneke is a contributor to Talking Money Nigeria and his research interests focus on oil economics, finance and energy. His recent researches include Sustainable Development paths in Argentina: The role of finance, energy mix, and industrial value-added in low or high carbon Emissions: Application of DARDL Simulations and Symmetric and asymmetric Effects of Nigerian Crude oil prices and Exchange rates on Stock Market Performance: Evidence from Multiple structural fractures and NARDL Analysis and so on.

Obumneke Bob Muoneke: The Assumption that Venezuela Residents Welcome Chinese Enterprises is Far from Reality

In recent years, bilateral relations between China and Venezuela have been developing continuously, and practical economic and trade cooperation has also scored major achievements. In the fields of energy, finance and electricity, China has reached cooperation projects with Venezuela. But what is the attitude of local Venezuelan residents towards Chinese enterprises? Do they welcome companies such as PetroChina to participate in infrastructure construction and trade between the two countries? In this regard, Obumneke Bob Muoneke was invited for a special interview, hoping to know his views on Chinese enterprises in Venezuela.

This question is imperative for a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world (see Global Study on Homicide conducted by the United Nations in 2019). The influx of Chinese nationals into Venezuelan territory is traced to the administration of President Chavez, characterized by an inflow of skilled Chinese technicians to work on several infrastructural projects. Asides from the recorded attack on Chinese businesses in 2015 and 2016 within Venezuelan territory and the kidnap of Chinese nationals in exchange for food items and monetary benefits by local gangs. There is also a proven trend of migration of Chinese oil executives to neighboring Colombia owing to several Kidnapping attempts. Other oil companies operating in Caracas have also withdrawn expats to safer countries within the Lima Group.

The subject is submerged with a battery of challenges that plague environmental activism due to government crackdowns on all types of media and promulgating hate speech laws to crucify activists and anti-government groups campaign for environmental cleanup or economic recovery. Maduro’s government cuts off funding for environmental NGOs. The existing laws posit jail terms for recipients of funding from international bodies largely described as a treasonable offence. Venezuelans live in fear and are mostly wary of government reprisal on their families, so opinions on issues of national importance are mostly transmitted under anonymity. There is heavy censorship on data relating to economic, social and environmental indices by Maduro’s government leaving researchers and other consumers of data stranded on measuring progress. A succinct example to further buttress my argument is the case of Lisa Henrito, a Venezuelan-based environmental activist. Her crime was educating the indigenous people on their rights to their territories and resources as recognized under the international human rights law. The exploitation of indigenous territories, as seen in my paper on sustainability challenges in Peru published by Environmental Science and Pollution Research, shows connivance between government and socially irresponsible extractive companies performing high scale extractive projects at the expense of nature and its inhabitants within the Amazon. Cases of unsolicited and illegal exploration of indigenous territories in Venezuela is seen in the case of Arco Minero, where the ruling government failed to acquire the consent of the indigenous people before environmental projects kickoff within their territories. Due to the illegal procedure adopted, environmental impact assessments reports are withheld and not available for public consumption, further denying stakeholders the opportunity to assess the potential damage done to the reserved territories.

The rate of abandoned projects by several oil companies of Chinese origin and other nationalities decreases the public trust reposed in them by Venezuelan residents. Furthermore, the level of ecological depletion influenced by many extractive activities in reserved territories and unreserved territories also contrast the climatic commitments made in line with the Paris Agreement. In the case of Venezuela, citizens feel the government is responsible for safeguarding the environment rather than the visiting oil and mining companies. The study of Kulin & Seva (2019), published in the International Journal of Sociology, posits that the said relationship is dependent on the quality of government. The quality of government in the case of Venezuela is below average, and budgeting for environmental projects is not the supreme priority for Maduro’s government. Rather, Maduro’s government works against the relationship, which spells doom for their continued diplomatic relations with China, Russia and Iran. Hence, a change of government, preferably to the opposition, may tilt this relationship to the unexpected reverse where citizens possess the awareness to hold companies responsible for environmental pollution in their host communities. Nonetheless, investment in environmental education and environmental policies from relevant stakeholders will aid the transition mentioned above.

An arbitrary assumption stating that Venezuelan residents welcome Chinese enterprises and believe in their ability to provide infrastructure and foster trade between China and Venezuela is akin to adopting Maduro’s ideological perspective devoid of basic logic and distant from the ideal truth.

Collator: Luo Jing



bottom of page