Washington-The Biden administration will ease economic sanctions on the Venezuelan government slightly on Tuesday, resume stagnant negotiations between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leaders, and ease the country’s political and humanitarian crisis. He said he would support.
U.S. officials said the resumption of negotiations was expected to be announced by Venezuelan officials late Tuesday.
To seduce Mr. Maduro back to the negotiating table, the Biden administration allows discussions between his government and Chevron, the last major American oil company doing significant business in Venezuela. Said. Current sanctions prohibit Chevron from doing business with the Venezuelan government and allow only essential maintenance work in the country.
The US Treasury will also lift sanctions on former Venezuelan state oil official and First Lady nephew Carlos Eric Malpica, according to Biden’s senior executive, who is familiar with the talks.official He wasn’t allowed to speak on record by the White House, so he discussed a policy change on Tuesday, subject to anonymity.
Government officials briefing Washington reporters downplayed the benefits Maduro could benefit from the relaxation of sanctions. Officials said Chevron was licensed to only allow the company to discuss future activities with Venezuelan officials, and such activities would not bring any income to Mr. Maduro’s government.
Officials also said that if Maduro’s government failed to make sincere efforts to negotiate with political opponents led by former parliamentary leader Juan Guaidó, who the United States considers to be the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. He warned that even concessions would be revoked.
The main demand of the opposition is a free and fair presidential election, which is currently scheduled for 2024.
According to senior government officials, the Biden administration has agreed to ease sanctions at the specific request of Venezuelan opponents. The opposition said the request came directly from Mr Maduro, according to Venezuelan opposition officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly.
The Venezuelan Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Maduro has steadily integrated Venezuela’s power after winning a reelection in 2018 in a vote that the United States deems fraudulent. As his power grew, his incentive to negotiate political arrangements with weakened opponents diminished.
The authoritarian president abandoned the final negotiations in October after the United States detained a Venezuelan-based businessman who helped the government evade sanctions.
A small sanctions concession followed a rare trip to Caracas by Biden’s senior executive in March. To release two American prisoners Held by Mr. Maduro’s government. Eight more US citizens remain imprisoned in Venezuela.
It remains unclear whether the administration’s limited allowances are sufficient to seduce Mr. Maduro to offer meaningful political concessions to the opposition. Venezuelan Chevron and other oil companies continue to be banned from selling oil to the United States. Dozens of other Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, are still under sanctions.
Maduro’s top executive and ally, Delcy Rodriguez, In a Twitter post on Tuesday The sanctions were broader than those announced by the White House, which meant allowing foreign oil companies to resume operations in Venezuela.
Biden administration officials called on Venezuelan negotiators to create conditions for free and fair national elections as soon as possible. The Biden administration, which faces a midterm election in the United States in November, could have Republicans dominating Congress and hamper the White House’s policy priorities, including Venezuela.
The White House’s work on Maduro in March was criticized by both prominent Republicans and Democrats in Congress, claiming that the move justified one of the most authoritarian governments in the Western Hemisphere. ..
On Tuesday, Texas House Rep. Michael McCaul, a top Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, attacked the latest concessions, and the Biden administration “decided to surrender” to Mr. Maduro’s corrupt and oppressive government. Said.
The relaxation of sanctions on Venezuela follows this week’s announcement by the Biden administration that it has relaxed some restrictions on travel and remittances to another authoritarian state, Cuba.
With the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela has long been a major power in the international oil market. But in recent years, its oil production has crashed under the weight of debt, corruption, mismanagement, and ultimately US sanctions in 2019.
The country’s oil fields and refineries are devastated and can make heavy use of technical assistance from Western companies like Chevron.
Venezuela, once closely linked to American energy companies, now relies on financial and other support from Russia, China and Iran.
Lara Jakes reported from Washington and Anatoly Kurmanaev from Mexico City. Clifford Krauss contributed to the report from Houston.