Venezuela facing threat of sanctions again
The Biden Administration is prepared to revoke all licences recently awarded to Venezuela if Nicolás Maduro doesn’t present a path towards fairer elections by the end of November, according to a report late yesterday on US financial news channel Bloomberg.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said, “Everything is on the table,” including revoking recently issued licenses allowing the export of Venezuelan oil and gas, Bloomberg reports. The gesture of goodwill came as response to the signing of an electoral road map agreement between the Maduro Government and the Opposition.
“If they don’t take the agreed steps, we will remove the licences we’ve awarded,” Nichols said in an interview Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco.
Among the agreed steps was to define a process to allow all Opposition candidates to run in the 2024 presidential election. The winner of Venezuela’s October 22 primaries, María Corina Machado, remains banned from participating by Maduro’s Government.
Despite his comments on the potential for sanctions to return if the Maduro regime fails to comply, Nichols said that he’s “confident” that the Government will live up to the deal and create a way for Machado to run.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said they also expect the release of wrongfully detained American and Venezuelan political prisoners. Maduro has repeatedly said that he will not give in to what he described as “blackmail” demands from the US.
The development comes as US oil firm Chevron Corp has begun supplying fuel to Venezuela’s State-run oil company PDVSA under Washington’s approval of expanded deals with the South American country, according to a separate report from Reuters, a news agency.
Last month, the US softened sanctions on Venezuelan oil production after four years, a step that should reshape global crude flows.