Chinese Officials In Talks With Venezuela Opposition To Extend Oil Projects Amid Widespread Protests

Venezuela protests
Opposition supporters gather to rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to honor Youth Day in Cucuta, Colombia February 12, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Marco Bello)

Venezuela's political crisis has driven Chinese diplomats to speak with Interim President Juan Guiadó's camp to negotiate debts and oil projects after President Nicolás Maduro surrenders his post.

Beijing has been a close ally to Maduro over the past years but the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese diplomats have raised concerns over how its future projects with Venezuela will turn out now that other countries have shown full support for the interim president.

When Guiadó declared himself as president around three weeks ago, a good number of Western administrations backed his incoming government. On the other hand, Russia and China rallied behind Maduro.

Last week, Venezuelan oil industry workers started exiting their country as the political dispute heightens and uncertainty of jobs propelled them towards searching for greener pastures.

According to The Associated Press, one of the workers, Nieves Ribullen, revealed that he will leave for the Kurdish region in Iraq. He had been working in the Caribbean coastline of Punto Fijo for years, noting that he watched his colleagues depart from the oil refineries due to dangerous working conditions and low wages.

Ribullen is expecting to earn $3,500 and more per month. This figure is significantly higher compared to his $20 monthly wage in his own country. "I only earn enough to buy a kilo (2 pounds) of meat and one chicken each month. We're in chaos," he said.

Over two decades ago, then President Hugo Chavez launched the Bolivarian revolution that helped spur Venezuela's oil sect. At that time, the troubled country was one of the world's top five oil exporters. In Maduro's regime, PDVSA, the state-run oil company, produced much less than what the corporation pumped during Chavez's rule.

Professor at Central University of Venezuela, Tomas Paez said many oil workers have fled the country and settled in over 90 oil-producing nations. Paez explained that most of them have already adapted to new environments and aren't planning to come home anytime soon.

Meanwhile, opposition supporters flooded the streets of Venezuela on Tuesday, calling for Maduro to allow humanitarian aid to go through the border. Photos obtained by CNN saw thousands of protesters shower support for Guiadó.

Placards brought by protesters read "I too am another Venezuelan fighting for a free Venezuela." The flood of protesting citizens came after the country's military pledged to back Maduro.

Guiadó appeared during the protest runs, encouraging his supporters to continue pressuring Maduro into allowing foreign humanitarian assistance to get through the border. Maduro previously denied any help, stating, "We are not beggars."

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