CARACAS — Venezuela is one of three Latin American countries that has expressed support for Russia and its invasion of Ukraine — or more specifically, the socialist regime of Venezuela is the one that has expressed its support of Putin.
The people of Venezuela have a completely different stance than that of its authoritarian regime.
Venezuelans are generally not well-versed in the political affairs of Russia, Ukraine, its government, and NATO. We are miles away, speak a completely different language, and live under different conditions. These differences, however, do not detract from the support Venezuelans have expressed for the citizens of Ukraine during these war times – a support that echoes throughout all corners of the world.
Different as we may be, there is a common denominator between our two countries: Russia and Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 4, 2017. (YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)
The cooperation between Russia and the socialist regime of Venezuela began with the late Hugo Chávez. In addition to the oil business between both countries, this cooperation includes areas such as energy, commercial, trading – and, most importantly, the military.
Russia has been selling weapons to the Venezuelan regime for nearly two decades now, weapons Venezuela has used against its own people. Russia is also a key factor in Nicolás Maduro’s continued evasion of U.S. sanctions. The possibility of installing Russian military bases is a recurring subject. A former chavista intelligence officer reported that two Russian military bases already exist in Venezuela.
The state of Nueva Esparta has become a new tropical tourist attraction for Russian nationals. While Russian tourists get to enjoy the beauty that is Isla Margarita, the local residents suffer the fruits of socialism, such as waiting up to 60 days for running water and 102 power blackouts in January 2022 alone.
In light of Russia’s outsized influence on the regime, Maduro declared his support for Putin’s operation in Ukraine last week in a boisterous and emboldened manner a week after Yury Borisov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Government, visited Venezuela to hold meetings with the socialist regime.
“From Venezuela, we repudiate the perverse plans that seek to surround Russia militarily and strategically. All support for President Putin and his people. We are sure that Russia will come out of this battle united and victorious, with the admiration of the brave peoples of the world.” Maduro posted on Twitter.
“Venezuela is with Putin, is with Russia,” he said on February 24, moments before Russia began its current invasion of Ukraine. Following Maduro’s statements, the regime’s official media apparatus began to echo Russia’s narratives of “denazifying” Ukraine and spreading fake news in favor of Russia, including rumors that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had fled.
— VTV CANAL 8 (@VTVcanal8) February 24, 2022
Maduro himself retweeted a post falsely claiming that a violent scene from Servant of the People, the comedy show that Zelensky starred in as president before becoming president, was a presidential campaign ad in which he vowed to kill politicians.
Es verdad aunque usted no lo crea! Presidente #Ucrania @ZelenskyyUa , hace unos años, usó este spot en campaña presidencial, diciendo que así se iba a deshacer de los políticos corruptos pro rusos. pic.twitter.com/ONAjlXzsU9
— Carlos Montero (@CMonteroOficial) February 26, 2022
The Venezuelan regime, a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, is among the five countries in the group that voted “no” against Ukraine’s request to hold an urgent debate in the Council.
— UN Human Rights Council 📍 #HRC49 (@UN_HRC) February 28, 2022
Maduro, via a phone call with Putin, reiterated his support of the Russian invasion. Venezuela did not cast a vote over the U.N. General Assembly resolution that demands an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine because Venezuela lost its voting rights in January over unpaid dues.
As the invasion of Ukraine became a cruel reality and more countries began to express their support to Ukraine, the socialist regime presented a more “moderate” diplomatic stance via an official press release from its Foreign Affairs Ministry on its “Bolivarian Diplomacy of Peace,” availing themselves of the opportunity to blame NATO and the United States for the “threats” against Russia.
Venezuela rechaza el agravamiento de la crisis en Ucrania producto del quebrantamiento de los acuerdos de Minsk por parte de la OTAN. Llamamos a la búsqueda de soluciones pacíficas para dirimir las diferencias entre las partes. El diálogo y la no injerencia, son garantías de Paz. pic.twitter.com/Y7N1lwZfpi
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) February 24, 2022
Maduro’s outbursts aside, this time around, the socialist regime has not resorted to artificially pushing hashtags or social media campaigns in favor or against either side nor have they yet organized any rally in support of Putin — to do so would be a fool’s errand, as there is nothing they could do to sway the populace into siding with Putin, even more so with the Carnival holidays that just took place in the region.
It’s worth mentioning that when the regime organizes any political rally, attendance is mandatory for government employees and all but mandatory for members of communal councils and for the biggest recipients of Maduro’s handouts. The absence of a planned rally to support Russia at press time indicates the Maduro regime suspects such an event would be unpopular enough to fail even with this coercion.
In contrast to the regime’s stance, the support of the people of Venezuela has mostly been expressed through social media and protest outside the Russian embassy in Caracas. Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s legitimate (but useless) president, also expressed his support to the Ukrainian people and Zelensky while calling for a rally outside the headquarters of the European Union Delegation in Caracas.
Venezuela acompaña la resistencia del pueblo de Ucrania.
Hoy rechazamos la invasión rusa apoyada por Maduro. #Ucrania y #Venezuela son dos batallas diferentes dentro de una misma guerra: la de la Democracia vs el Autoritarismo. #VenezuelaConUcrania#StandWithUkraine️ 🇺 pic.twitter.com/ufmlwInfog
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) March 3, 2022
— EFE Noticias (@EFEnoticias) March 3, 2022
El Pdte. (E) de Venezuela @jguaido, luego de un minuto de silencio, se dirigió a los venezolanos que salieron a expresar su apoyo a Ucrania.
— Asamblea Nacional (@AsambleaVE) March 3, 2022
While Venezuelan life continues as-is, we have not forgotten the support Ukraine’s citizens have given to us in our times of intense protest against the socialist regime of Venezuela.
— ᖴᖇEYᗩ (@IsFreyax) February 24, 2022
Hace 7 años manifestantes ucranianos enviaron mensajes de apoyo y solidaridad a Venezuela. Hoy que ellos están pasando por una dura situación de violación a los derechos humanos, nosotros estamos con ustedes. 🇻❤️🇺#Ukraine #StopWarInUkraine #TerceraGuerraMundial #NoALaGuerra pic.twitter.com/7QHnQkdESR
— Arturo 🇻🇵 (@arturojb18) February 24, 2022
There is not much Venezuelan citizens can do to support Ukraine beyond reciprocating that solidarity, hope that everything goes for the people of Ukraine, and pray that they get to live in peace.
Certainly, there are no saints in politics and governments. At the end of the day, casting aside all politics and power plays between both sides, you have people suffering and dying amidst this invasion, forced to flee their own country. All other foreign analyses or ulterior pragmatisms to judge who is right or not in this conflict do not change that crucial fact.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.