US begins reimposing sanctions on Venezuela, oil may come next

US begins reimposing sanctions on Venezuela, oil may come next
# 30 January 2024 02:34 (UTC +04:00)

The U.S. on Monday began reinstating sanctions on Venezuela and a Biden administration source said a roll-back of restrictions on the oil industry could be allowed to expire, after the South American country's top court upheld a ban blocking the candidacy of the leading opposition hopeful in presidential elections, APA reports.

The United States had granted sanctions relief for OPEC member Venezuela in October in recognition of a deal for elections this year.

But that relief was conditioned on President Nicolas Maduro's government freeing certain opposition-linked and American prisoners and making progress toward removing bans on a number of opposition figures.

Though Venezuela in December carried out a prisoner swap, the Maduro-allied Supreme Court on Friday kept in place a ban on opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado, upholding prior findings that she had supported the sanctions, was involved in corruption and lost money associated with Venezuela's foreign assets.

Several opposition members were arrested the same day.

In a first reinstatement of sanctions, the Treasury Department said on Monday evening any U.S. entities conducting transactions with Venezuelan state-owned gold mining firm Minerven will have until Feb. 13 to wind them down.

The move came hours after a Biden administration official had said the Treasury license that broadly restored dealings with Venezuela's oil industry would be allowed to expire on April 18 if Machado and other opposition figures were not allowed to run.

"Unless Maduro and his representatives in Venezuela are able to get back on track, specifically with regard to allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year's election, we will not be in a position to renew General License 44, which provides relief to Venezuela's oil and gas sector when it comes up for renewal in April," the White House official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said the U.S. was also considering additional unspecified measures to punish the Venezuelan government.

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