Discover more from Andrew Korybko's Newsletter
Now Isn’t The Best Time For Venezuela To Join BRICS
The arguments shared in this analysis about why Venezuela won’t join BRICS during this summer’s summit raise the question of why Lula publicly supported Maduro’s membership bid despite the near impossibility of it being approved.
Venezuelan President Maduro just expressed his country’s willingness to join BRICS, which was endorsed by his Brazilian counterpart Lula, who said that he’d support its bid. Now isn’t the best time for Venezuela to join that bloc, however. This socialist state’s economy has been crippled by US sanctions, thus rendering it unable to contribute to the group’s shared goals anywhere near the level that its existing members are capable of.
In the unrealistic scenario that Venezuela ended up joining BRICS while the non-energy sector of its economy remains in crisis, then the organization would be further complicating its already complex work of coordinating policies between five very different economies. That would essentially reduce it to a high-profile talking club that solely serves as a platform for its members to rant against America and capitalism without actually getting anything done, which isn’t in any of its existing members’ interests.
There’d be no chance of BRICS ever unveiling its planned reserve currency either since it wouldn’t risk that project’s viability by tying it to Venezuela’s collapsed economy. It’s already difficult enough as it is to get its existing members to agree on the finer details of this initiative, but the progress that’s been made in this respect thus far would practically be for naught. The inclusion of that country into their group would radically change its economic dynamics and thus likely necessitate starting over for the most part.
Few financial professionals have the patience to do that after already investing years of their lives into this project, especially when this scenario would make their plans all the more challenging to implement. For the sake of argument, even if BRICS were to admit Venezuela and its experts were willing to basically start from scratch in renegotiating their group’s reserve currency, other much more economically stable prospective members might be scared away by that country’s participation and thus decide not to join.
They wouldn’t be at fault either because the thought of shouldering some of BRICS’ possible burden for Venezuela’s economic recovery would be considered an unfair sacrifice since taxpayer-provided resources could be spent on that endeavor without their people ever having a say in it. Even if no bailout from that bloc materializes, the group would still be rendered a talking club by Venezuela’s admission at this time, therefore tremendously reducing its appeal to those who actually want to get things done.
All of this insight raises the question of why Lula publicly supported Maduro’s interest in joining BRICS despite knowing the near impossibility of Venezuela joining it anytime soon. More than likely, the Brazilian leader just wanted to present himself as a reliable partner for that neighboring country. Lula also probably wanted to convince his supporters that he’s truly committed to multipolarity amidst credible suspicions of him being the US’ Trojan Horse, which were touched upon in this analysis here.
With the last-mentioned observation in mind, he could also be setting some of the other members up to take the blame in the court of public opinion – at least among Latin Americans and socialists – for Venezuela not being granted membership during BRICS’ upcoming leaders’ summit in August. Lula’s propagandists might exploit the false narrative prevalent among the Alt-Media Community accusing India of being the US’ Trojan Horse, which was comprehensively discredited here, to blame Delhi for this.
It's “low-hanging fruit” so to speak since so many have already been misled by that claim, plus it could serve to deflect from those earlier mentioned credible suspicions of Lula being the one that’s really playing this role. Whether or not his propagandists run with that information warfare narrative, the point is that the non-Western public’s hopes of Venezuela joining BRICS this summer have spiked as a result of Lula’s support, which is setting many up for deep disappointment if that doesn’t happen as is expected.
Those people might then be more emotionally susceptible to believing conspiracy theories about why that country’s membership bid failed even though it was never realistically being considered in the first place. One or some of the bloc’s existing members will therefore likely be blamed, whether by Lula’s propagandists or other Alt-Media demagogues, which could exacerbate the perception of growing divisions within BRICS. Furthermore, Venezuela might be offended and suspect someone of subterfuge.
It's serious about joining BRICS despite the near-impossibility of this happening anytime soon, and Lula just irresponsibly got Maduro’s hopes up about this by publicly endorsing his bid instead of downplaying it to temper expectations, which could have nipped the abovementioned divisive scenarios in the bud. The bloc’s other members should thus consider some form of partnership with Venezuela in order to protect their collective integrity in the face of predictable speculation that someone sabotaged its bid.
The BRICS+ model devised by Russian geo-economic guru Yaroslav Lissovolik provides a pragmatic solution to this dilemma if the political will is present by all parties. His latest article suggests applying the plurilateralization proposal shared by the World Economic Forum in one of its 2019 reports as a means towards the end of having Mercosur partner with BRICS via Brazil’s membership in both. That would represent a compromise for giving Venezuela indirect ties with BRICS without the liabilities.
Maduro could achieve his aim of establishing a relationship with that bloc, Lula could take credit for leading this initiative, and BRICS could expand the number of stakeholders in its shared goal of accelerating financial multipolarity while neutralizing the risks that Venezuela’s membership poses. There aren’t any costs associated with this solution and only possible benefits to be reaped, which is why Lula should shift his stance and endorse this proposal instead if truly he has BRICS’ best interests in mind.