With Venezuela in the grips of a desperate economic and humanitarian crisis, Portuguese companies are being called on to help turn things round.
The country believes a surge in foreign investment could be the answer to its woes.
“We are very interested in having Portuguese companies arriving in Venezuela and increasing their presence here in order to help our development,” Venezuelan minister Jesus Faria told Lusa news agency after attending a seminar at the headquarters of AICEP, Portugal’s foreign investment and commerce agency, in Lisbon.
Faria says the two countries already share “great economic, political and cultural” relations and hopes these will strengthen.
He explains that Venezuela’s plan to recover centres on cutting back on imports and promoting exports. “We want to invite Portuguese businesspeople to be a part of this process, which is very important and historic for our economy,” he added.
Whether Faria’s appeal will be enough to attract businessmen to a country with a crumbling economy and huge social upheaval is another story.
American news giant CNN has highlighted in a recent report that many people in Venezuela do not even have access to basic goods. Calls for president Nicolas Madura to resign increase by the day, while crime is going through the roof, and food and medical supplies are scarce.
Carmen Mendoza, 66, had to travel to New York to stock up on “toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, beans, corn flour, tuna fish, mayonnaise and aspirin”, said the report.
She actually fought back tears when she saw fully stocked food shelves and lush vegetables and fruits, “a rare sight in Venezuela today”.
Venezuela is the second South American country with the largest Portuguese population (around 500,000).
Despite the country’s plight, however, Portuguese airline TAP continues to operate its scheduled service.