Beyond the military sphere, Russia’s soft power on Venezuela is bearing fruit

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MOSCOW – The possibility of connecting directly by commercial air to the capitals and other cities of Russia and Venezuela is being analyzed, Venezuelan Minister of Tourism and Foreign Trade, Felix Plasencia said in an interview.

“We are working to soon consider the direct air routes between Venezuela and Russia, it is a matter that is being discussed,” said the minister, who this week participated in the 23rd General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in St. Petersburg.

The headline stressed that “there is tourist interest and private interest in establishing commercial air routes between Russia and Venezuela and the commitment to international air connectivity.”

Plasencia explained that for now Russian visitors have to go through other destinations to reach Venezuela, but “soon we must have the possibility of making direct trips between capitals or important cities of Russia and Venezuela.”

He said that “that is something that must wait to take shape with an official announcement to be made.”

The minister said that the air connection does not have to be only between Moscow and Caracas.

“In Venezuela there are several international destinations, in addition to Caracas it may be with other spaces such as Margarita, Barcelona, ​​that is what is being worked on and that will be possible very soon,” he said.

On the other hand, Plasencia expressed confidence that Venezuela may soon have connectivity not only with Moscow but also with St. Petersburg.

The tourist attraction of Venezuela

The head of Venezuelan Tourism reported that, although there is currently a tourist flow to Venezuela from Russia, this “must be greater.”

“We believe that Venezuela is an attractive destination for Russian visitors, and that is happening, there are several tourism companies that are working with Venezuela, there are investors who are visiting the country… We will soon have good news about an increase in flow of tourism from Russia to Venezuela,” he said.

Russia and Venezuela have signed a visa waiver agreement that entered into force in March 2009.

Plasencia found that, in addition to Russia, there is interest from tourism and aviation companies in China, Iran and other countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

“Many companies are interested in approaching Venezuela, accompanying us in extensive tourism projects, development in Margarita Island, in the Los Roques archipelago [both in the Caribbean], in the Orinoco Delta [in the northeast of the country], in our jungle, in our national park Canaima [southeast],” he said.

He stressed that Venezuela is a country with “immense diversity” and “immense reserves of beauty”, because in addition to the aforementioned tourist sites also has mountains with snow in the Andes, tepuyes with waterfalls, extensive savannas, as well as the “cosmopolitan” capital city, Caracas, and a” delicious gastronomic culture.”

The senior official said that Venezuela is aware of the difficult situation, which is the result of “unilateral and illegal coercive measures” in the United States.

“We are responding to that with a sincere commitment,” he said, highlighting Venezuela’s cooperation with Russia and other “friendly countries,” which “is throwing a result,” because “there is an improvement in supply” in the face of the ” blockade ” and the “boycott” imposed by Washington.

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Venezuela plans to become a “big exporter”

In addition, Plasencia declared that Venezuela aims to become an exporting country and has all the necessary resources for it.

“We are going towards that route, the commitment of President Nicolás Maduro and the instruction he has given me is to build that route to be an exporting country, a great exporter,” said the minister.

Recalling that the Venezuelan economy “has been based for more than 100 years on energy oil mono-production,” he stressed that “it is something that we have to diversify, it is something that we must evolve from,” because “Venezuela has everything necessary to be a power. ”

“Venezuela has oil , but in addition to having oil, natural gas and perhaps the second largest gold reserve in the world, it has water for ten times our population … and arable lands of immense wealth,” Plasencia said.

With its approximately 300,000 square kilometers of fertile land, according to the minister, the Caribbean country can “produce anything” because it also has “cheap and immense energy and water resources.”

Among the Venezuelan agricultural products of recognized quality, which have “a lot of capacity to export,” he highlighted fruits, flowers, coffee, rums and cocoa, as well as meat products.

The minister added that Venezuela also has a chemical industry that “is a consequence of oil wealth,” a steel and mineral industry.

“There are some plants installed that we must maximize, which we must strengthen, and one way to strengthen them again is with allies and partners,” said Plasencia.

He referred to Russia, China, India and Turkey as “fundamental, very important destinations” for export to which Venezuela wants to approach.

The Caribbean country also has an interest in the markets of “the more than 50 countries in Africa and the more than 50 countries in Asia”, in addition to having a “natural projection” and “a historical commitment” to the Caribbean, Central America and America South.

Plasencia also highlighted the “unbeatable geostrategic position” of Venezuela, since the air distance from Caracas is the ” shortest of any capital of South America with any European ” and “of any capital of South America with the North American market. “.

“We are talking about 500-600 million [of potential consumers] in Europe and 300 million in North America,” he said.

The ministry led by Plasencia was created by President Maduro last August by merging the Ministries of Foreign Trade and Tourism.

The minister explained that the commitment of the new portfolio is to “make the country brand, the presence of Venezuela abroad through tourism, a constant and a seal of quality.”

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