US temporarily lifts sanctions on Venezuelan oil and gas

Washington, Oct. 18 (EFE) – The United States announced on Wednesday the temporary lifting of several sanctions that have weighed on Venezuela, including those in the oil and gas sector.

The US made the decision in response to the signing of an agreement on an electoral roadmap between the Unified Platform of Venezuela (UPV) and representatives of the Maduro government.

The two agreements signed in Barbados on Tuesday stipulate guarantees for the 2024 presidential elections, including international observation missions for the upcoming presidential elections.

However, the Joe Biden administration warned that the suspension of oil and gas sanctions will be in place for six months.

The US could reconsider its decision if there is no progress toward democratic elections and if Americans detained in Venezuela are not released.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said it “has issued general licenses authorizing transactions in Venezuela’s oil and gas and gold sectors and lifting the ban on secondary trading.”

“Treasury stands ready to modify or revoke the licenses at any time should Maduro’s representatives fail to meet their commitments,” the text reads.

“All other restrictions imposed by the United States on Venezuela remain in place, and we will continue to hold bad actors accountable,” it adds.

In the agreement on electoral guarantees, the parties commit to continue the dialogues and negotiation on other measures, “understanding the need to lift the sanctions against the Venezuelan state,” the Maduro government said after the signing.

In response to this agreement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued on Wednesday the 4 general licenses suspending sanctions.

“The license will be renewed only if Venezuela meets its obligations under the electoral roadmap and other commitments regarding unjustly detained persons,” the Treasury said.

It also issued a second general license authorizing transactions with Minerven (Venezuela’s state-owned gold mining company), which the Treasury says will have the effect of reducing black-market gold trading.

Finally, two licenses were amended to remove the prohibition on secondary trading of certain Venezuelan government bonds and the debt and capital of PdVSA, the state oil company.

The ban on trading in the primary market for Venezuelan bonds remains in place, the Treasury said.

“Treasury assesses that this, too, would have the positive effect of driving nefarious players out of this market, with negligible financial benefit to the Venezuelan regime,” it said.

According to the Venezuelan government, countries such as the United States, Canada, Panama and European Union (EU) have imposed more than 900 sanctions on Venezuela since 2015, most of them in a personal capacity against officials accused of harming democracy. EFE


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