U.S. prepared to ease sanctions in Venezuela if it restores democracy with free and fair elections
The U.S. suggested that if a competitive presidential vote is held in 2024 and political prisoners are freed, the U.S. could temporarily lift some or all of the sanctions against Venezuela.
August 24, 2023 8:33am
Updated: August 24, 2023 8:33am
The White House said on Wednesday that it is prepared to ease sanctions against Venezuela if the country makes an effort to restore democracy and holds free elections next year.
"Should Venezuela take concrete actions toward restoring democracy, leading to free and fair elections, we are prepared to provide corresponding sanctions relief," a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council (NSC) said.
The Biden administration has been working for years to get the regime of President Nicolas Maduro and his opposition to hold talks regarding free elections in the South American country.
This week, the two countries held preliminary discussions with senior officials, including the head of Venezuela’s congress, Jorge Rodriguez.
During the meetings, the U.S. counterpart suggested that if a competitive presidential vote is held in 2024 and political prisoners are freed, the U.S. could temporarily lift some or all of the sanctions against Venezuela.
Maduro, who has been in power since 2013, is expected to run for a third term during the 2024 presidential elections. He was re-elected in 2018, during an election that the U.S. and other countries have considered a sham after he imprisoned most of the other presidential candidates ahead of the elections.
Most of the sanctions against Venezuela were put in place by the administration of President Donald Trump to weaken Maduro’s hold on the country, with a particular focus on the South American country’s oil sector.
Last year, the Biden administration began easing sanctions on Venezuela by granting a license to Chevron Corp. to resume oil production in the country. The license, granted by the U.S. Treasury Department, allows the company to produce petroleum and related products for six months in Venezuela.
It is unclear how soon a deal could be reached between the U.S. and Venezuela if one could be reached at all. So far, Venezuela has not yet taken the steps toward democracy for corresponding sanction relief, said an NSC spokesperson.