The US suspends sanctions against Venezuela for COVID-19 related purchases

The OFAC published a license authorizing transactions of Venezuelan state banks where related to combating the pandemic

June 18, 2021 by Michele de Mello
The US Department of Treasury lifted sanctions on financial transactions related to combating COVID-19. Photo: Twitter

The United States suspended part of the sanctions against Venezuela on Thursday June 17. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a license that lifts the penalties to companies that carry out transactions with the Venezuelan state related to combatting COVID-19.

The document provides for the Central Bank of Venezuela and three other state banking entities to carry out operations with US companies. However, it does not allow transactions with Petróleos da Venezuela S.A (PDVSA) or the Economic and Social Development Bank (BANDES).

The license also does not authorize the exportation or re-exportation of goods, technology or services for members of the military, intelligence bodies or government agents. It also highlights that it will not lift the blockade on any property that is under embargo from the White House.

The measure was announced after the global outcry resulting from the blocking of around $10 million dollars from Venezuela for the purchase of vaccines from the COVAX initiative. The value was blocked by the Swiss bank UBS, which was “investigating” the origin of the money.

In addition to this, since 2020, the general secretary of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, asked for the suspension of all economic sanctions during the pandemic. In March of this year, the Human Rights Council of the UN approved a resolution against unilateral coercive measures. The Council of the European Union sanctions a list of 33 countries, while the United States penalizes 34.

Since 2015, Venezuela has suffered under 150 coercive measures and an economic blockade applied by the United States and the European Union that has already cost the country around USD $130 billion.

Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez highlighted that Venezuela is the fifth country that most suffers under unilateral sanctions from the United States.

Despite the blockade, according to official data, the country maintains a rate of recovery of 92% of patients, with a total of 255,000 infected and 2,886 dead from the novel coronavirus.

According to the Ministry of Health, 11% of the Venezuelan population was vaccinated from doses bought from Russia and donations from China.

Original version published in Brasil de Fato.