The United States is easing some of its tough sanctions on Venezuela in order to encourage political dialogue between President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and its opponents, a senior official said Tuesday.
“The United States is undertaking a number of measures at the request of the Venezuelan interim government and the Unity platform of opposition parties negotiating with the Venezuelan regime, to support their decision to return to the negotiating table in Mexico City,” the US official said.
One action permits US oil firm Chevron to negotiate with the state oil company PDVSA on the terms of any future activities in Venezuela, the official said.
The official said another action to ease sanctions would be announced imminently.
After a political stalemate of three years that has seen economic and social conditions in Venezuela drastically deteriorate, Washington wants to encourage Maduro’s regime to negotiate with his opponents.
They include opposition parties and the “interim government” led by Juan Guaido, which is recognized by nearly 60 countries, including the United States, as the legitimate government since 2019.
Despite international support, Guaido’s side has not been able to oust Maduro from power.
The official said the easing of sanctions is being done at the request of the Guaido-led interim government and is directly tied to an agreement of both sides to return the talks, “which they should be announcing very shortly.”
“The United States supports a peaceful and negotiated outcome to the Venezuelan political and economic and humanitarian crisis,” the official said.
The US official stressed that the easing would not permit Chevron to actually reach an agreement with PDVSA or undertake work inside or on behalf of Venezuela, where the oil sector has been hampered by international sanctions.
“Very clearly, none of these alleviations of pressure would lead to an increase in revenue for the regime,” the official said.
“We are going to calibrate our sanctions policy accordingly to increase pressure or alleviate pressure on the basis of ambitious concrete and irreversible outcomes that empower the Venezuelan people to determine the future of their country through democratic elections,” the official added.