WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Wednesday broadly eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector in response to a 2024 election deal reached between the Venezuelan government and the country’s opposition.
“In response to these democratic developments, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued General Licenses authorizing transactions involving Venezuela’s oil and gas sector and gold sector, as well as removing the ban on secondary trading,” the Treasury Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Treasury is prepared to amend or revoke the authorizations at any time if representatives of President Nicolas Maduro fail to follow through on their commitments in the deal with the opposition, it added.
The changes include the issuance of a six-month general license for the oil and gas sector in Venezuela and another general license authorizing dealings with Minerven – the Venezuelan state-owned gold mining company.
Treasury also removed the secondary trading ban on certain Venezuelan sovereign bonds and state-run oil company PDVSA debt and equity, though a ban on trading in the primary Venezuelan bond market remains in place, it said.
The statement confirmed what a senior U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had told Reuters earlier on Wednesday – that the U.S. was going ahead with broad sanctions relief but would reverse these steps if Maduro’s government did not agree to lift bans on opposition presidential candidates and release political prisoners.
The frontrunner in an opposition primary scheduled for Sunday, Maria Corina Machado, is barred from office for 15 years as of June.
The U.S. moves follow months of negotiations in which Washington had pressed Caracas for concrete actions toward democratic elections in return for lifting some – but not all – of the tough sanctions imposed under former U.S. President Donald Trump.
It marks a significant step in the Biden administration’s increased engagement with Maduro on issues ranging from energy to migration, shifting way from Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the socialist-governed country.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Mayela Armas, Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Josie Kao and Lisa Shumaker
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