Venezuela, USA to Renew Oil Sanctions

The USA is increasing pressure on Venezuela and has announced it will reimpose sanctions on oil and gas. This comes as the South American country’s Supreme Court upheld the ban on Maria Corina Machado, the main opposition candidate, from running in the election.

“Given the failure to meet the commitment to allow all candidates to run in this year’s presidential election, the U.S. will not renew the license when it expires on April 18, 2024,” a State Department representative explained.

A court close to President Nicolas Maduro, who has been at the helm of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2013, the year of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, on January 26 confirmed the exclusion of opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado, who was declared ineligible on charges of “treason” and administrative fraud last July.

Venezuela is the country with the world’s largest estimated oil reserves and has been under U.S. sanctions since 2019, when then-President Donald Trump decided to impose an embargo on Caracas.

However, in October 2023, a relaxation of sanctions was granted after President Maduro made certain attempts, when he seemed intent on allowing opposition parties to participate in political elections to be held in the second half of 2024.

Machado clearly won the primary elections held in October, and during this period the government and the opposition reached an essential agreement on elections to be held in the second half of 2024. Washington responded to the agreement by slowing sanctions for a period of 6 months: they expire in April, at which point the benefits will not be extended.