We recently did a blog about the number of foreign embassies in Pyongyang. We found it an interesting article to write from many angles. Seeing which countries take their relationship with North Korea as important enough to host a mission was quite eye-opening.
One of the most interesting facts was that in 2019 Venezuela bucked international trends by opening rather than closing an embassy in Pyongyang.
Why Did Venezuela Open a Pyongyang Embassy in 2019?
The answer to this, of course, is multi-faceted. As we know it today, Venezuela came about due to the Bolivarian Revolution initiated by Hugo Chavez back in 1999. It is hard to believe that this revolution has now been ongoing for 21 years.
While things have soured somewhat over recent years, it truly cannot be underestimated just how enigmatic and important for its time the Bolivarian Revolution of Hugo Chavez was. To go into everything Chavezismo and Bolivarian is/what would be too much for this article so we will only briefly cover it.
Essentially whilst not exactly Marxist-Leninist, it was heavily focussed on self-reliance and a leading role for the state in the economy. Policies like this would obviously lead to a lot of enemies, but also some close friends.
The friendship between Chavez and Fidel Castro is obviously well documented, but Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong Il also became friends. In 2008 Huge Chavez expressed interest in going to Pyongyang and meeting Kim Jong Il, but the meeting never came to fruition.
Why Did Venezuela North Korean Relations Strengthen?
In some ways, it was the shared struggles of the countries that kind of brought them together. North Korea remains one of the most isolated and heavily sanctioned countries in the world today.
Things in Venezuela have not gone all that much better. Nicholas Maduro, the successor to Chavez, has continued with the Socialist policies of the Bolivarian Republic, but some might argue without the pizzazz, or intelligence of his predecessor. This has meant the slow worsening of relations with Venezuela with the rest of the world, and the USA in particular. In fact, Trump no longer even recognizes Maduro, although, in all fairness, most of the world actually do still recognize him.
In 2018 North Korea launched a charm offensive, and this helped foster better relations with socialist Venezuela.
This culminated in 2019, with Venezuela opening up an embassy in Pyongyang. Sadly this has not meant all that much economic activity and relations seem a bit more symbolic than substantial.
What the future holds though, is anyone’s guess.