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Mar 1, 2019 0 Comments

VRIC Monitor: March 2019

March 2019
The VRIC Monitor is a one-of-a-kind, monthly report from SFS tracking extra-regional influence in Latin America. VRIC stands for Venezuela, Russia, Iran, China where Venezuela represents the country itself, but also the broader Bolivarian Alliance or ALBA. Likewise, Iran represents the Islamic Republic and a growing presence of Middle Eastern actors in Latin America, namely its chief proxy, Hezbollah. The monitor is comprised of open source information selected by SFS analysts and fellows. This is not a complete list of media reports on VRIC presence in Latin America, but a snapshot of open-source media highlighting the major areas of VRIC influence.

OVERVIEW  

In February, the VRIC alliance has focused primarily on propagandizing the ongoing crisis in Venezuela while the United States has sent medical supplies, foodstuffs, and hygiene kits to the Colombian-Venezuelan and Brazilian-Venezuelan borders. The Maduro regime blocked U.S. humanitarian aid but has welcomed millions in Russian aid, as well as military technology and defense support from Russia and China. The battle over humanitarian aid played out in the UN Security Council session on February 26, where Russia and China vetoed the U.S. resolution to call for free and fair elections and approve U.S. humanitarian aid to Venezuela. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin plans a future trip to Bolivia in the spring to discuss the Venezuela crisis and increase Russia’s role with the ALBA bloc.

The increasing U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have introduced new Middle Eastern actors to the VRIC alliance. Cuba has reportedly turned to Qatar for oil, while Turkey served as a destination for 23 tons of gold from Venezuela last year. An additional eight tons of gold have recently been removed from Venezuela’s central bank as its president, Calixto Ortega, was on a trip to Turkey, Russia, and China. The PRC is leveraging its economic clout in the region to advance its diplomatic overtures in the Caribbean and signed major lithium deals in Bolivia and Chile. Lastly, Latin America is seeing the rise of a new trade partner and a competitor to China: India, who has increased its profile this past month in terms of trade and investment to the region.

 

Read the full report, here.

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