Washington has recently made decisions that directly affect the economy and the evolution of political events in Venezuela. OFAC ordered a halt to all transactions between US entities and the Minerven company. At the same time, the Department of State announced that, in April, it will withdraw the relaxation of sanctions on the oil and gas sector, unless the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela changes its ruling approving the disqualification of María Corina Machado.
The easing of US sanctions began in November 2022 with a special license to Chevron and was subsequently extended to General License 44 in 2023, providing significant relief to the oil and gas sector.
This change in policies suggests that the White House has begun to abandon the first approach and shows a willingness to carry out a process of normalization of bilateral relations. This evolution even raises the possibility of establishing a new, stronger framework for oil cooperation, based on mutual benefits and respect. However, these prospects seem to be fading due to recent events.
The reimposition of sanctions shows the continuation of the characteristic elements of the policy towards Venezuela during the Trump administration: the attempt of one State to impose its will on another and the use of sanctions as an instrument of force aimed at damaging the country’s economic capabilities and disbanding. part of its productive structure.
According to a new report by the United States Congressional Research Service, the imposition of sanctions on Venezuela has helped cause “an economic crisis in the country that has driven 7.7 million Venezuelans to flee.” If the oil licenses are revoked in April, this crisis will worsen because the income will decrease again.
The objectives of the reimposition of oil sanctions include preventing as much as possible the collection of revenue from crude oil exports, blocking new energy investments and increasing the risks of domestic shortages. gasoline. In addition, in returning to the ‘maximum pressure’ strategy, the goal is to avoid the realization of favorable economic growth scenarios.
In this movement of pieces, it became clear that Washington was not able to free itself from the old place, despite the decisions of the Biden administration to open Venezuela and the pragmatic approach of Jake Sullivan, United States National Security Advisor.
Sullivan presented for the global stage a new, more realistic foreign policy plan for interaction with countries that chose not to align with the United States.
In this perspective, the need to respect the sovereignty and right of each country to make decisions according to its own interests is emphasized. However, implementing this vision has proven difficult, as evidenced by the recent failure in relation to Venezuela.
In statements from the State Department, April 18 is mentioned as the moment to continue the “maximum pressure” policy, so there is still a window of time for Washington to consider its decision.
From the beginning, the authorization given to Minerven caused surprise and was interpreted by many analysts as a strategic chip in the list of licenses, which can be used at the right moment to simulate stability when withdrawn and thus satisfy the most radical sectors. If this is true, we are in a situation where “the blood does not reach the river” and what we observe will only be a game of shadows.
AT THE TIME
The real motivation behind Trump’s sanctions strategy lies in achieving the reintegration of Venezuela into the US orbit. Although Sullivan has reformed foreign policy in a more pragmatic way, that goal has not been completely abandoned. However, it is necessary to take into account the new geopolitical realities, such as the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, which may change the objectives and configure new cooperation scenarios. There is still a chance to avoid a withdrawal of a policy of sanctions that was unsuccessful and caused a lot of damage.