The US government is preparing to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela, a move is seen as an attempt to encourage the resumption of negotiations between the US-backed opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The changes, which will be limited, will allow Chevron to negotiate its license with the state-owned oil company PDVSA, but will not authorize the prospecting or export of any oil of Venezuelan origin, two senior US administration officials revealed today to the Associated Press (AP).
The same sources added that Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, former manager of PDVSA and nephew of the first lady of Venezuela, will be removed from the list of individuals targeted by sanctions.
These measures follow a demonstration of openness by Maduro, after a meeting in March with representatives of the government of President Joe Biden.
They also follow on from a recent meeting between US officials and the main opposition coalition, the Unitary Platform (UP), to discuss the way forward.
“These are issues that the PU negotiated and came to us to ask us to do so, so that they can return to the negotiating table”, highlighted one of the sources.
Dozens of Venezuelans, including the country’s attorney general and the person responsible for prison services, and more than 140 entities, including the Central Bank of Venezuela, will remain on the sanctions list.
The US Treasury Department will continue to prohibit transactions with the Venezuelan government and PDVSA in US financial markets.
The Venezuelan President himself is under indictment in the United States, accused of conspiring to “flood the country with cocaine” and using drug trafficking as a “weapon against America”.
Venezuela’s government suspended negotiations with the opposition in October following the extradition to the US of a key Maduro ally on money laundering charges.
The Venezuelan head of state made his return to the negotiating table conditional on the release of businessman Alex Saab, who was extradited from Cape Verde.
The opposition and the Venezuelan government should soon announce the resumption of negotiations.
California-based Chevron is the last major US oil company to do business in Venezuela, where it first invested in the 1920s.
In 2019, together with PDVSA, it produced about 200,000 barrels a day, but the US government ordered it to reduce production in 2020 and, since then, it has only been authorized to carry out essential work on oil wells to preserve its assets. and jobs in Venezuela.
The move allows “Chevron to negotiate the terms of possible future activities in Venezuela”, stressed one of the top US officials in statements to journalists.
Venezuela has some of the world’s largest oil reserves, but its political turmoil and economic decline have driven more than six million people to migrate in recent years.
The US and other countries withdrew their recognition of Maduro after accusing him of electoral fraud in his 2018 re-election as president.
In place of Maduro, they recognized Juan Guaidó, who was at the time the leader of the opposition-dominated Congress and who remains the leader of the Unitary Platform.
Source: With Agencies