The Biden White House said on Tuesday that it will relax its sanctions on Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro so long as a commitment is made to have diologue in Mexico City with Venezuela's opposition movement.
According to sources close to the matter, this marks a turning point in Washington's pressure campaign on Caracas.
The Miami Herald reports that the new US sanctions relief will allow energy giant Chevron to begin talks regarding future investments in the oil-rich country. Sanctions will also be lifted from Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, a former high-ranking energy official in Venezuela who is also the nephew of Maduro's wife.
Efforts were made last fall to speak with Maduro, though those ended with the president walking away from the talks with the opposition.
A senior administration official told The Miami Herald that the sanction relief was coordinated with Venezuela's opposition.
“It is very important to stress that this was done in coordination with the interim president, Juan Guaidó, to move the talks forward,” the official said. “This is something that they thought would be helpful for the talks to move forward.”
The US, along with 60 other countries, recognize Guaido as the country's interim president, and say that Maduro has been a key player in the destruction of Venezuela's economy over the past decade.
The Herald reports that "The sanctions relief grants Chevron a license to begin negotiating future activity in Venezuela. Chevron would need additional authorization to begin new production."
"It’s a narrow license authorizing Chevron to negotiate the terms of their potential future activities in Venezuela — but this is all contingent on steps being taken that are positive by the Maduro regime," the official said. "Further authorization would be needed for Chevron to get into any sort of agreement."