Contents

Introduction

It came as little surprise that incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won a second six-year term in a May 20 vote marred by an opposition boycott and accusations of vote-rigging.

According to the National Election Council (NCE), the socialist party leader received 5.8 million votes, more than three times that of his nearest rival Henri Falcon.

More surprising was the speed and severity with which the international community responded: not only with words, but concrete actions.

Barely 12 hours after the vote, the US imposed new financial sanctions on the OPEC country, designed to limit its ability to raise much needed foreign currency.

Nicolás Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, celebrate the disputed May 20 election result. Source: AFP

Almost simultaneously, the Lima group of 14 countries from the Americas — including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru — recalled their Caracas-based ambassadors in protest.

The G20 group also issued a joint statement the day after the poll in which it said it would refuse to recognize the result.

Bucking the trend were Russia, El Salvador, Cuba and China, whose governments sent congratulatory messages to Maduro.

Maduro's victory came despite one of the worst recessions in Latin America's recent history. Some 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving the oil-rich nation every day, according to the UN, as they flee from hyperinflation, severe product shortages and rampant crime.

So what does this all mean for the country's crucial oil sector? We go into depth in this report.

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