MOSCOW – Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro have been a costly investment for Russia and China as they seek to expand their influence in Latin America. They are determined now not to lose ground.
Moscow and Beijing are warily eyeing the events in Venezuela last week, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president and demanded that Maduro resign. The United States and other nations recognized Guaido as the rightful president.
Maduro, a pariah in many world capitals, has been a frequent guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. With every visit, Maduro walked away with new loans and cash.
In the 10 years ending in 2016, China lent Venezuela about $62 billion, much of which Caracas could repay with oil. Moscow in the last several years gave Venezuela $17 billion in loans and investment, and in December the two governments signed a new deal in which Russia will invest $6 billion in Venezuela’s oil and gold sectors.
China and Russia are Venezuela’s two main creditors, and they have been the principal economic force keeping the Maduro government afloat, making the difference between solvency and bankruptcy, financial experts say.
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