The Venezuelan and North Korean regimes have agreed to strengthen their political, bilateral, and multilateral ties “for the benefit of both countries,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry told the press.
During the February 23 meeting held in Caracas, Venezuela’s Vice Minister for Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania Tatiana Pugh, and North Korean Ambassador to Venezuela Ri Sung Gil agreed to conduct visits “in the near future,” Mexican newspaper Milenio reported.
Caracas and Pyongyang also exchanged views on the “important” role both nations play “in the definitive construction of a new world order,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry’s statement said.
Although no further information was released, this is not the first time both countries have met. In December 2022, they agreed to promote projects for mutual economic development, Milenio reported.
Venezuela and North Korea also signed a sports cooperation agreement in March 2022 to support the “comprehensive training” of citizens to preserve their “physical and moral” qualities, EFE reported.
“These are symbolic speeches, because in practice it’s very complicated. North Korea is an isolated country that is not part of global trade networks,” Mauricio Jaramillo, a researcher at the School of Political Science and Government and International Relations of the Del Rosario University in Colombia, told Diálogo on March 14. “The same precariousness with which North Korea lives day-by-day, a distant country, could not possibly make for a special relationship with post-[Hugo] Chávez Venezuela, with fewer resources, military forces assuming another role, without human rights guarantees, and clearly authoritarian.”
In its Freedom in the World 2023 report, U.S.-based nonprofit organization Freedom House, which conducts research and advocacy on human rights and democracy, ranked the most and least free states worldwide. Of the 210 countries surveyed, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela show the greatest decline in democracy.
In recent years, Caracas, Pyongyang, and Tehran have sought greater military, intelligence, economic, and cyber collaboration to evade U.S. sanctions, Washington, D.C.-based international news magazine The Diplomat reported. Iran and North Korea have been known to collaborate in the development and sale of weapons.
The Iranian nuclear program depends on the know-how of North Korea, which buys energy from Iran, according to The Diplomat. These two regimes can collaborate on cyberattacks and defense capabilities and share intelligence that could harm the United States and its allies.
“Although North Korea cannot replace China’s monetary role in supporting Venezuela due to its own economic fragility, it can provide Venezuela with advanced military technology and institutional knowledge needed,” The Diplomat reported.
Venezuela facilitates the entry of military and terrorists into its territory in exchange for Iranian fuel, food, and weapons, while the Koreans offer their expertise to exploit U.S. sanctions to their advantage, Mexican news site Imagen Noticias reported.
The Venezuelan regime also has a relationship with Russia in defense and technology transfer. “For Moscow to have Venezuela is a ‘good deal,’” Jaramillo said. “Moscow is interested, without replicating the model of the cold war with Cuba because it was very expensive, to be in some Latin American countries where it can counterbalance the United States from a rhetorical standpoint, because competing against the United States is very difficult for Russia.”
“In the coming years these relations will become closer,” Jaramillo added.
While authoritarian regimes remain extremely dangerous, they are not invincible, Freedom House concluded in its report.
“More than anything else, five decades of Freedom in the World reports demonstrate that the demand for freedom is universal. The years have shown that popular challenges to authoritarian rule are a recurring theme even in the most repressive societies,” Freedom House said.