Sanctions are back. The United States will begin to revoke on February 13 the licenses to operate Venezuelan gold and in April the permits of oil multinationals if the Nicolás Maduro regime does not comply with the agreements with the opposition, as the release of political prisoners and the authorization of María Corina Machado.
Immediately, the Chavista president warned that he could reinforce his offensive against the opponents, who threaten to remove him from power in the presidential elections scheduled for the second half of this year.
As he had announced on Friday, after the ruling of the Supreme Court of Venezuela that disqualified the candidacies of opposition leaders, such as María Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles, The United States reimposed sanctions against Caracas this Tuesdaywhich especially hit its battered economy.
“The actions of Nicolás Maduro and his representatives in Venezuela, including the arrest of members of the democratic opposition and the banning of candidates from competing in this year's presidential elections, are inconsistent with the agreements signed in Barbados last October by representatives of Nicolás Maduro and the Unitary Platform (the opposition coalition), said a statement from the State Department, from Washington.
Last year, in support of the Barbados Agreement, signed between the Maduro regime and the opposition, under the auspices of Norway, the United States lifted part of the sanctions and provided relief to Venezuela's oil and gas sector.
Maria Corina Machado, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, disqualified by the Chavista regime. Photo: AFP
“In the absence of progress between Maduro and his representatives and the opposition Unitary Platform, particularly regarding allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year's elections, the United States will not renew the license when it expires on April 18, 2024“, detailed the statement from the US Foreign Ministry.
In addition, it announced that it will revoke the license that authorized transactions related to Minerven, the Venezuelan state gold mining company.
In response to the reimposition of sanctions, the Maduro regime threatens to retaliate and severely toughen punishments against opponents, as announced by the president of the Chavista National Assembly, Jorge Rodríguez.
The first measure that the United States launched this Monday in response to the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela (TSJ) to confirm the disqualification against the opposition presidential candidate María Corina Machado was to reverse the permit for Venezuelan gold.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) of the Treasury Department of the United States government modified the gold license that it had issued to the Venezuelan company Minerven, setting a deadline of February 13 for it to liquidate its operations in the US financial system.
The return of the sanction means that The Maduro regime will no longer be able to market gold through regular channels but clandestine as it has been doing since 2019 in the state of Bolívar, in the south of the country that is in the hands of the narco guerrilla and military mafias. The uncontrolled exploitation of gold has devastated the Amazon, denounces the NGO SOS Orinoco.
The license was only authorized last October, when the Maduro government agreed with the opposition in Barbados on the conditions for free and competitive elections this year and the authorization of opposition politicians.
“To begin with, that license should never have been granted, like other concessions such as the release of Alex Saab, Maduro's front man, which the US has given in exchange for almost nothing,” said the environmental analysts.
President Nicolás Maduro hugs Alex Saab, after his return to the country. The US had detained him on corruption charges. Photo: REUTERS
In second place energy and oil sanctions return. “We have options at our disposal. I'm not going to advance any of them at this time, but we certainly have options regarding sanctions and those types of things that we can take. They have until April,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference.
Kirby stated that, in the agreements, the Maduro government “made some commitments about opposition political parties, about free and fair elections and what all that meant, and they have not taken those actions.”
The American official gave an ultimatum Venezuelan leaders “to make the right decisions” before April.
This means that the US will allow sanctions that expire in April on oil companies like Chevron to be revoked in six months if opposition candidate María Corina Machado is prevented from running, and is also considering additional measures to punish Venezuela, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.
Two US government officials told Bloomberg, on condition of anonymity, that the United States will decide not to renew the oil licenses granted to Venezuela in October if Machado remains disqualified.
They are U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
European Union concerns
The European Union issued an official statement expressing its concern about recent events in Venezuela and the ratification by the Supreme Court of the 15-year disqualification of opposition politicians María Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles for the next presidential elections.
Decisions aimed at preventing members of the opposition from exercising their fundamental political rights can only undermine democracy and the rule of law, sources in Brussels said.
For his part, Maduro affirmed that the ratification of the disqualifications against María Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles are res judicata and a definitive sentence. Of 9 cases, 7 were enabled. “Here no surname is above the laws,” he said.
While the president of the Chavista National Assembly and chief official negotiator of the Barbados pact, Jorge Rodríguez, said that will take more “severe” measures and they don't let themselves be pressured by anything or anyone.CB
The liberal leader Machado, 56, who describes her ban as a “criminal judicial” act, affirms that she will continue with her candidacy until the end for the mandate that millions of Venezuelans gave her in the primary on October 22 to defeat Maduro. who challenges being measured in the elections.