After Cuba, US moves to ease energy sanctions on Venezuela

A day after easing restrictions on family remittances and travel to Cuba, the Biden administration announced the reversal of some energy sanctions on Venezuela. This comes amid widespread rejection of the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela from the Summit of the Americas

May 18, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Venezuela sanctions
(Photo: Nicolás Maduro/Twitter)

On Tuesday, May 17, US President Joe Biden’s administration announced the rollback of some energy sanctions on Venezuela to encourage resumption of the dialogue and negotiation process between President Nicolás Maduro’s administration and the far-right opposition parties. Senior officials of the US government told CNN that the reversal of sanctions would allow Chevron, the US energy company still operating in Venezuela, to negotiate the terms of its license with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA to continue operations in the country.

Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez confirmed that “the United States government had authorized US and European oil companies to negotiate and restart operations in Venezuela.”  In another tweet, Rodríguez expressed the country’s aspiration that “these decisions would pave the way for the absolute lifting of the illegal sanctions that affect all our people.” She also stressed that “the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, attached to its deep democratic values, will tirelessly continue promoting fruitful dialogue in national and international formats.”

The vice-president took the opportunity to stress that the country had been moving toward achieving economic development as a result of the resistance and perseverance of the Venezuelan people in the midst of the US blockade. “The world knows that Venezuela has taken its first steps on the road to economic recovery with its own effort, denouncing and overcoming the illegitimate sanctions and the inhumane blockade. Our people are proud of the work and achievements of recent times,” tweeted Rodríguez.

The dialogue between Maduro’s socialist government and the opposition led by US-backed Juan Guaidó, which began in Mexico in August 2021, had been suspended since October 2021 following the illegal detention and extradition of Venezuela’s special diplomatic envoy Alex Saab to the US from Cape Verde. The Venezuelan government had suspended its participation in the dialogues “as a profound expression of our protest against the brutal aggression.”

Tuesday’s announcement came over two months after a delegation of high-ranking US officials traveled to Venezuela in early March to discuss “energy security” and “finding out about the well-being of detained United States citizens.” Following that meeting, President Maduro announced the reactivation of the dialogue process with the opposition, and released two American prisoners.

According to a Reuters report, in addition to easing oil sanctions, the US government has also planned to remove Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, a former PDVSA official and the nephew of Venezuela’s first lady, Cilia Flores, from a list of sanctioned individuals.

The announcements came a day after the Biden administration eased some sanctions on Cuba and marked the second reversal of Trump-era policies this week. On Monday, the US government announced the relaxation of restrictions on family remittances and travel to the Caribbean country.

The moves also followed widespread condemnation of the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela from the Summit of the Americas scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, US, in early June. In recent days, presidents and prime ministers of over a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have refused to attend the summit.