May 17, 2022 - World

U.S. to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela

Picture of Nicolas Maduro

Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is moving to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela to encourage peaceful negotiations between the opposition and Nicolás Maduro's regime, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

Driving the news: Officials told reporters that they are taking these measures "at the request" of the Venezuelan interim government led by Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. still recognizes as the country's legitimate president.

Details: The Treasury Department has issued a "narrow license" authorizing Chevron to negotiate on "potential future activity" in Venezuela, the officials said. However, the company is not allowed to enter into any agreements with Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

  • Senior administration officials said that "none of these alleviations … would lead to an increase in revenue for the regime."
  • Other actions are expected to "become public" throughout the day, senior officials said.

Between the lines: AP reported that sanctions will be lifted for Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, nephew of Venezuela's first lady and former Venezuelan national treasurer.

  • The Venezuelan opposition released a statement saying that they did not ask the U.S. to lift any sort of personal sanctions from specific officials, adding that they are calling for the announcement of the date in which negotiations can continue with Maduro's regime, along with a "concrete agenda."

What they're saying: "The policy framework for us is that we are focused on promoting a viable dialogue that leads to concrete and ambitious outcomes," senior administration officials said.

  • "We will alleviate pressure on the basis of those outcomes and in coordination, very closely, with ... the [Venezuela] interim government. We will re-apply sanctions on the basis of any steps backward or regresses in any sort of negotiations."
  • Senior administration officials said that this move is a "very honed approach ... where the only path that the regime has toward the alleviation of sanctions" is to participate in peaceful negotiations.

Catch up fast: Biden officials in March made a rare trip to Venezuela to meet with the Maduro regime to discuss the release of U.S. detainees and urge them to continue negotiations, which have been suspended for months.

Go deeper: White House denies it’s discussing oil and sanctions with Maduro

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

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