The United States has decided to reactivate oil and gas sanctions on Venezuela if it does not see a “change of course” from the government of Nicolás Maduro, who described it as “blackmail”, days after to continue the political disqualification of the opposition María Corina Machado. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has revoked the license from Minerven, Venezuela’s state-owned gold mining company, and only pending transactions can be processed. until February 13.
March behind Washington
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller reported that “the United States will not renew the license” that provides relief to the oil and gas sector when it expires on April 18, 2024. Joe Biden’s government took this step “without the progress” between Maduro and his representatives, and the Unitary Platform of the opposition, “especially in terms of allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year’s elections,” added Miller.
The announcement comes hours after the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Management gave it until February 13 to “settle any pending transactions” with Minerven. That’s why Washington reinstated sanctions on Venezuelan oil, gas and gold.
The United States has conditioned the extension of the relief of sanctions against Venezuela, which was established in October in response to the agreement signed between the government and the opposition in Barbados. Under the agreement, Maduro must release prisoners, including “unreasonably detained” Americans, and guarantee free elections. The exchange of prisoners was completed.
In December, Venezuela released 20 Venezuelans and 10 Americans in exchange for the release of a businessman close to the Venezuelan government and the extradition of a Malaysian businessman to the United States. However, Washington considers the results to be insufficient.
The judicial decision against Corina Machado and former candidate Henrique Capriles, including the recent arrest of three members of Vente Venezuela – the candidate’s party – led the White House to reinstate the sanctions. In recent days, 36 people have been arrested, including civilians and soldiers, accused by the Venezuelan authorities of being involved in five “conspiracies” to kill Maduro.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice has sealed a 15-year political disqualification against Machado, who won the primary election in the main opposition alliance.
For Washington, the Barbados agreement “remains the most practical mechanism to resolve the long-term political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and facilitate competitive and inclusive elections in Venezuela.” But it is necessary that “Maduro and his representatives respect the principles of the roadmap and guarantee that the political actors of the opposition have the right to freely choose their candidates for the 2024 presidential elections,” which should be held in the second half the year.
Aggression “at the behest of extremist henchmen”
Maduro’s Executive took up the gauntlet and rejected the “rude and improper blackmail and ultimatum expressed by the US government.” In his account on the social network “immediate return flights for Venezuelan migrants”.
Washington and Caracas agreed last October to repatriate Venezuelans and then 15 flights left from US territory to Venezuela as part of the “Return to the Homeland” plan. “Venezuela, inspired by its glory and historical dignity, will continue its efforts to recover the Venezuelan economy with its own efforts of national unity,” said the vice president.
The Venezuelan Parliament called a consultation on Tuesday to propose a date for this year’s presidential election. “They say we have until April 18,” said the president of the National Assembly, Chavista leader Jorge Rodríguez in the plenary session. “Save yourselves the lapse, shitty Yankees,” added Rodríguez, who emphasized: “With what morality does a spokesman come to give what ultimatum? Put your ultimatum wherever it fits.”
Vice President Delcy Rodríguez indicated that the consultation process will begin next Monday and that the proposal that emerges will be delivered to the National Electoral Council, which has the power to call elections. According to an agreement jointly approved by the deputies, it involves the immediate formation of a “large national dialogue table” that includes representatives of the political, economic, social, cultural, academic and indigenous sectors. with the “purpose of developing, together, a schedule proposal”.