President Maduro Receives Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi in Caracas

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro received Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi with state honors at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

With the highest military honors and a mounted escort from the Presidential Honor Guard hussars, Raisi arrived on Monday, June 12, at Miraflores Palace. He was welcomed with a handshake from President Maduro, who was waiting for Raisi accompanied by several members of the Venezuelan cabinet.

Earlier, President Raisi laid flowers before Liberator Simón Bolívar’s tomb in the National Pantheon, where he signed the guest book of prominent figures and world dignitaries.

Venezuela is the first stop on Ebrahim Raisi’s tour of various strategic partners of Iran in Latin America. As part of this tour, he will also visit Nicaragua and Cuba in the coming days.

Iran–Venezuela strategic alliance

In their meeting, Presidents Maduro and Raisi will ratify binational strategic cooperation in economic, political, scientific and energy matters amid the illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on both nations.

In reference to Raisi’s visit, President Maduro wrote on social media that Venezuela has found true friends in the world, “with whom we are united in resistance, courage and self-determination to continue being free peoples. We will always welcome you to our Homeland!”

Cooperation between Tehran and Caracas deepened during the presidency of the late Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) and has strengthened since then.

Vice President of governing party PSUV Diosdado Cabello described the relations between Iran and Venezuela as extraordinary. This relationship was expanded when now-President Nicolás Maduro served as Hugo Chávez’s foreign minister.

“As Commander Chávez’s foreign minister for over six years, Nicolás Maduro cultivated those direct relationships with the Iranian governments and people,” Cabello stated.

At present, Iran has become one of Venezuela’s main allies. President Maduro visited Iran in May 2022.

Petrochemical cooperation

The Iranian government’s solidarity and support for Venezuela have been highly valued by Venezuelan. Under the harsh beginning of the illegal US and European sanctions against Venezuela in 2019, the country’s fuel shortages created by the US blockade were helped by oil tankers sent by Iran. Subsequent technical cooperation to improve Venezuela’s petrochemical facilities, also affected by the illegal blockade, further assisted in relieving these shortages.

Millions of Venezuelans are still suffering the hardship of fuel shortages, especially in the last six to eight weeks, due to recurrent failures in the oil refineries lacking US and European parts and light oil, previously provided by the US and necessary for the refining process.

Iranian and Venezuelan oil experts have been working for several months to adapt Venezuelan refining infrastructure to make it less dependent on US parts. This weekend, Reuters reported the resumption of operations at the catalytic cracking unit at the El Palito refinery in Carabobo state.

El Palito refinery was undergoing major repairs and expansions after a deal worth over $100 million was signed with the state-owned National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) almost one year after it initially stopped production. These projects are seen by experts as a key move to alleviate the recent fuel shortages in Venezuela.

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