The Biden administration on Saturday eased some oil sanctions against Venezuela after the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition signed a broad “social agreement” to create a United Nations-run fund to provide humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people.
The accord signé samedi à Mexico par des presentants of president Maduro et de l’opposition – y compris the faction soutenue par les États-Unis dirigée by Juan Guaido – mark the reprise of negociations longtime bloquées visant à trouver une voie commune pour sortir de South america. complex national crisis.
The US Treasury said the deal represented “important steps in the right direction to restore democracy” in Venezuela and responded by granting Chevron a license to resume limited oil extraction operations in Venezuela.
The Treasury Department said the authorization will remain in effect for six months while the Biden administration assesses whether the Maduro government is living up to its commitments in the deal.
Easing restrictions on Chevron’s operations in Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, would put the country on a path back into global oil markets.
International efforts to resolve the Venezuelan crisis have gained momentum since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the strain it placed on global energy supplies.
A joint statement by Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union pledged to be “ready to review sanctions” imposed on Venezuela, but demanded that it release political prisoners, respect freedom of the press, and guarantee the independence of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. eliminate. and electoral colleges.
The powerful Democratic chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Robert Menendez, said the Biden administration must move slowly.
“If Maduro tries again to use these negotiations to buy time to shore up his criminal dictatorship, the United States and our international partners must restore the full force of our sanctions that brought his regime to the negotiating table in the first place.” He said.
– Optimism before the talks
There is optimism that the talks will succeed this time, said Manuel Rapallo, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Mexico City.
It’s been more than a year since the Venezuelan government and opposition sat down at the negotiating table. One reason there is so much optimism heading into this round of talks is that the goals and rewards were set long before the negotiations.
The goal, of course, is to resolve the current economic and political crisis in Venezuela. For the government of Nicolás Maduro, this means that it will have to commit to holding free and fair elections in the country. And his government’s reward is the mitigation of harsh sentences.
Norwegian mediator Dag Nylander hailed the agreement as a “historic step”, although the country’s crisis can only be resolved by the Venezuelans themselves.
“The two sides have identified a group of resources belonging to the Venezuelan state frozen in the international financial system, which can be gradually accessed,” he said.
The money is intended to help stabilize the country’s power grid, improve education infrastructure and deal with the impact of this year’s deadly rains and floods.
A United Nations report released earlier this year estimated humanitarian needs at $795 million to help some 5.2 million people in Venezuela through health, education, water, sanitation, sanitation, food and other projects.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States has tightened economic sanctions against Venezuela and given opposition leader Juan Guaidó power to control bank accounts held by the Maduro government at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or at other US-insured banks.
Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January 2019, arguing that his capacity as speaker of the country’s National Assembly allowed him to form a transitional government because Maduro was re-elected in a mock vote in late 2018.
Dozens of countries, including the United States, Canada and Colombia, have recognized him as Venezuela’s rightful ruler. European banks also hold frozen Venezuelan assets.
Nearly seven million people have left Venezuela amid a complex political and humanitarian crisis. Three-quarters of those who remain in the country live on less than $1.90 a day, an international measure of extreme poverty.