Sat | Sep 24, 2022

US to ease a few economic sanctions against Venezuela

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2022 | 9:43 AM
In this March 12, 2020 file photo, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gives a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, File)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The United States government is moving to ease a few economic sanctions on Venezuela in a gesture meant to encourage resumed negotiations between the US-backed opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

The limited changes will allow Chevron Corp. to negotiate its license with the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, but not to drill or export any petroleum of Venezuelan origin, two senior US government officials told The Associated Press late Monday.

The officials spoke under the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.

Additionally, Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores — a former high-ranking PDVSA official and nephew of Venezuela's first lady — will be removed from a list of sanctioned individuals, they said.

Hours after the announcement Tuesday, the opposition and Venezuela's government acknowledged they had begun conversations on possibly restarting negotiations.

The moves follow goodwill gestures by Maduro after meeting in March with representatives of the administration of President Joe Biden and a recent gathering in Central America between US officials and the main Unitary Platform opposition coalition to discuss a path forward.

“These are things that ... the Unitary Platform negotiated and came to us to request that we do in order for them to be able to return to the negotiating table,” one of the officials said.

Scores of Venezuelans, including the country's attorney general and the head of the penitentiary system, and more than 140 entities, among them Venezuela's Central Bank, will remain sanctioned.

The Treasury Department will continue to prohibit transactions with the Venezuelan government and PDVSA within US financial markets.

Maduro himself is under indictment in the United States, accused of conspiring “to flood the United States with cocaine” and use the drug trade as a “weapon against America.”

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