After the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to cut its production on Wednesday, which has the potential to drive up U.S. gas prices, the Biden administration has turned to Venezuela and may be getting ready to pull back sanctions.
Though Venezuela is under the authoritarian regime of Nicolás Maduro and has been sanctioned by the U.S. for several years, the administration is considering pulling back on some sanctions so that the American Chevron Corp. would be allowed to pump oil in Venezuela again, the Wall Street Journal reported.
If Chevron is allowed to pump oil in Venezuela, then oil exportation from Venezuela to the U.S. and Europe could be a possibility again, which would greatly ease the energy crisis that Europe and the U.S. have found themselves in, the Journal reported.
However, in exchange for a drawback on sanctions, Maduro would need to have discussions once again with the opposition about holding legitimate, “free and fair” elections in 2024, the Journal reported.
“Our sanctions policy on Venezuela remains unchanged. We will continue to implement and enforce our Venezuela sanctions,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, Bloomberg reported.
“As we have previously made clear, we will review our sanctions policies in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela and alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”
Chevron also added that is not yet taking any action and will only operate based on the decision about sanctions.
“[W]e continue to conduct our businesses in compliance with the current sanctions framework provided by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control,” Chevron’s statement said, Bloomberg reported.
Though easing sanctions is now on the table, the U.S., and President Joe Biden himself, have long disapproved of Maduro’s regime and the cruelty that has occurred under it.
In February, security forces were reported to have executed and detained citizens who protested against Maduro, Reuters reported.
“The authorities under Nicolas Maduro are trying to use fear and punishment to impose a repulsive strategy of social control against those who demand change,” America’s director at Amnesty International, Erika Guevara-Rosas, said.
“His government is attacking the most impoverished people that it claims to defend, but instead it murders, detains and threatens them,” Guevara-Rosas added.
Amnesty International has also reported on various instances of “enforced disappearances,” torture, extrajudicial executions and politically driven detentions that have occurred throughout the years of Maduro’s regime.
In 2020, Biden himself strongly condemned Maduro in a tweet, calling him a dictator.
“Nicolás Maduro is a dictator. I strongly condemn his regime’s violent takeover of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the country’s sole remaining democratic institution,” Biden tweeted.
Nicolás Maduro is a dictator. I strongly condemn his regime’s violent takeover of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the country’s sole remaining democratic institution. https://t.co/mzrg9e8t5X
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 7, 2020
So if the U.S. is to ease sanctions in order to access Venezuelan oil, Maduro will reportedly have to make some amends.
This deal between the U.S. and Venezuela is by no means certain either. The Journal reported that officials said discussions are still ongoing and the deal could collapse, particularly since it is “contingent on Mr. Maduro’s top aides resuming talks with the opposition in good faith.”
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