The United States reinstates oil sanctions against Venezuela

The threat brandished by Washington has become reality. The United States announced on Wednesday April 17 that it would reimpose sanctions against the Venezuelan oil and gas sectors. The administration of President Joe Biden thus returns to the reduction of sanctions announced in the wake of an agreement concluded in October 2023 in Barbados between the representatives of President Maduro and those of the opposition on the holding, during the 1er semester, of a free and fair presidential election.

While welcoming the electoral calendar providing for the vote on July 28 with the presence of international observers, Washington condemned the ineligibility of the opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado, favorite in the polls, and the non-registration of her replacement designated, Corina Yoris. The opposition registered a candidate ” provisional “Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, former ambassador, with the intention of changing before the vote.

“We are concerned that Mr. Maduro and his representatives have prevented the democratic opposition from registering the candidate of their choice, harassed and intimidated political opponents and unjustly detained numerous political actors and members of civil society”said US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement. “We once again call on Maduro to allow all candidates and parties to participate in the electoral process and to release all political prisoners”also said Mr. Miller.

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Until May 31 to comply with sanctions

The general license known as “GL44”, which authorized transactions related to the Venezuelan oil and gas sector for six months, expires on Thursday and will not be renewed, American authorities have confirmed. Companies will have until May 31 to comply with these sanctions, they said.

“This is the consequence of the Maduro regime’s inability to fulfill its part of the agreement. The regime has violated all elements of the Barbados agreement and has even developed a wave of brutal repression”reacted to Agence France-Presse, Mme Machado, whose seven campaign team members have been arrested in recent weeks and six others have taken refuge in the Argentine embassy.

To date, there are 269 “political prisoners” in Venezuela, according to the NGO Foro Penal.

“This is certainly not a free and fair election, which is what we are calling for. I hope (…) that the regime will understand that it is better for all parties, including Nicolas Maduro, to accept the terms of the Barbados agreement”added Mme Machado.

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“We continue to grow”

American sanctions or not, the country’s oil industry is not going to stop, Pedro Tellechea, Venezuelan oil minister and president of the public giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) assured journalists on Wednesday, even before the announcement of Washington. “We continue to move forward, we continue to develop”declared Mr. Tellechea, affirming that the sanctions “have no effect on the economy, there is maximum stability. »

The United States announced at the end of January that it intended to reactivate these sanctions against Venezuela, which reacted at the time by speaking of “gross and unjustified blackmail”. Washington has already reimposed sanctions on the state-owned company Minerven, which operates gold mines.

President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a third six-year term as oil and gas sanctions imposed since 2019 sought to oust him from power following his contested 2018 re-election.

A delegation from the European Union arrived in Caracas on Sunday to begin observation work for the July 28 presidential election. A mission from the US-based Carter Center is planned for next week, and a panel of UN experts is expected to make the trip before the end of April.

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The World with AFP

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