The Biden administration is preparing to ease sanctions on Venezuela to allow Chevron to pump oil in the country under a potential deal with the Venezuelan government, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Trump administration began imposing crippling economic sanctions on Venezuela in 2017. In 2019, the US recognized opposition figure Juan Guaido as the “interim president” and backed a failed coup attempt against President Nicolas Maduro.
Under the potential deal, the US would give Venezuela significant sanctions relief and Maduro’s government would resume talks with the opposition on the 2024 presidential election. Guaido has virtually no support left in Venezuela after his failed coup attempt and repeated calls for foreign intervention, but there are other opposition figures.
The deal could also unlock hundreds of millions in frozen Venezuelan government funds held by US banks that would be used to pay for imports of food, medicine, and equipment needed to repair the country’s power and water infrastructure. The report said that the terms of the deal are expected to be shored up later this month.
Responding to the report, the National Security Council said that there were no plans to change sanctions policy without “constructive steps” from the Maduro government. “Our sanctions policy on Venezuela remains unchanged. We will continue to implement and enforce our Venezuela sanctions,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.
The report said that Wall Street firms and investors have been pressing the Biden administration to lift sanctions on Venezuela to open up business opportunities in the country. The country sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, and getting more Venezuelan crude on the market could significantly ease global prices.