The Joe Biden administration and the government of Venezuelan President Maduro have reached an agreement to ease US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. In return, official Caracas will allow competitive presidential elections to be held in 2024. In addition, international observers will be allowed to attend. This was reported by The Washington Post on October 16, citing two sources familiar with the negotiations. It is expected that PDVSA (Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company) will be among the recipients of the American license to expand operations in the United States and other countries.
According to the publication, a partial easing of the sanctions regime will follow the conclusion of an agreement between representatives of the Venezuelan government and the opposition to hold free elections. The signing is expected to take place on Tuesday in Barbados.
The US-Venezuelan deal does not provide for the unfreezing of Caracas assets held in US banks. In addition, the easing of restrictions will be urgent so that the sanctions regime can be quickly restored.
Negotiations between Venezuela and the United States became known in March 2022. In May, Washington gave the green light to the resumption of American Chevron’s activities in Venezuela, and Maduro agreed to return to negotiations with the opposition. Later, in October 2022, the United States offered Caracas sanctions relief in exchange for increasing the supply of Venezuelan oil to the world market.
The application of American sanctions against Venezuela began in 2005-2006. Tensions within bilateral relations reached a peak in January 2019, when the Donald Trump administration (2017-2021) declared the 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections illegitimate and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó, then president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, as acting head of the country. In August 2019, Trump ordered the seizure of all Venezuelan assets in the United States. According to statements by some former administration officials, the ex-president repeatedly considered the possibility of using military force against Venezuela in order to overthrow Maduro. In January 2023, the State Department confirmed that the United States no longer recognizes Guaidó as acting. president.