US and Maduro regime meet before deadline to reimpose sanctions

WASHINGTON – The United States expressed Venezuela his concern about the “electoral process” during a secret meeting between both parties, just days before an exemption to the sanctions to Venezuelan oil and gas, a White House official informed AFP this Friday.

“We can confirm that there was a meeting,” said a National Security Council spokesman who requested anonymity. “The purpose was to express our concerns about Venezuela's electoral process.”

The Venezuelan delegation confirmed that the meeting was held on April 9 in Mexico City to “review what was agreed upon in the Doha dialogues” that were held directly between the governments of Joe Biden and Nicolás Ripe, last May and without the participation of the opposition.

“We point out the failure of the North American administration to comply with the agreed schedule for lifting sanctions,” said the statement published by Jorge Rodriguez, who is president of Parliament and led the delegation.

Washington lifted sanctions on the energy sector and Venezuelan gold in October 2023, following an agreement reached between the Venezuelan regime and the opposition in a parallel process in which Norway mediates.

Biden's “warnings” to Maduro

This agreement hinted at the possibility of the opposition participating in the presidential elections scheduled for July 28, in which Maduro aspires to a third consecutive term. But since then Maduro's main rival, María Corina Machado, remains disqualified and Corina Yoris, nominated by her to replace her in the elections, has also been vetoed.

Very dissatisfied with the situation, Washington has warned several times that if Caracas does not change course it will reimpose the sanctions, subject to a six-month exemption that expires on April 18. He already reactivated the sanctions on the state gold mining company in January after the Supreme Court of Justice ratified Machado's political disqualification.

In Mexico, “we were emphatic in the rejection of any form of interference in the affairs of Venezuela,” said Rodriguez's statement, which criticized the “inexplicable and interested leaks in US media and agencies of meetings classified as “private.”

Although it has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela produces about 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day, a quarter of the 3 million barrels per day more than a decade ago.

The United States and Venezuela have not had formal relations since 2019, after ignoring Maduro's re-election a year earlier. However, since Biden came to power, some channels like this one were opened in Doha, which in December led to the exchange of political prisoners for Alex Saab, accused of being a front man for the socialist dictator and who was facing trial for money laundering. in Florida.