A major US oil corporation was permitted to restart operations in Venezuela after the Nicolas Maduro administration and the Venezuelan opposition broke the political impasse on Saturday with a broad social agreement.
The agreement signaled a potential easing of Venezuela’s crippling economic and political crises.
It opens the door for the UN to manage a trust fund made up of frozen assets belonging to the Maduro administration, which will be put to use in Venezuela for various social initiatives.
Dag Nylander, a representative from Norway, which sponsored the discussions, stated that “We have identified a set of resources belonging to the Venezuelan state, frozen in the global financial system, to which it is possible to access.”
The accord, which put an end to a 15-month deadlock between the two parties, may help to reduce the large influx of Venezuelan migrants into the area and maybe have an influence on global oil markets.
According to Marcelo Ebrard, a supporter of the discussions and the foreign minister of Mexico, the agreement offers “hope for all of Latin America.”
The humanitarian accord asks for funding for projects in the areas of education, health, food security, flood relief, and energy to come from a UN trust that has not yet been formed.
The agreement reached on Saturday, however, failed to advance a crucial issue: how to proceed with the 2024 presidential elections.
Since Maduro declared himself the winner of the hotly contested 2018 elections, which were largely seen as illegitimate and resulted in massive public protests, Venezuela’s political situation has gotten worse.
The US Treasury Department responded by granting Chevron Corp. a license to begin limited oil extraction activities in Venezuela after saying the agreement on Saturday represents “important steps in the right direction to restore democracy” in Venezuela.
According to Treasury, the license will be valid for another six months while the Biden administration determines if the Maduro government is upholding its end of the bargain.
The easing of restrictions on Chevron’s activities in Venezuela, the country with the greatest oil reserves in the world, would enable it to take steps toward re-entering the international oil markets.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine and put pressure on the world’s energy sources, attempts to end the Venezuelan issue have been stronger internationally.
The release of political prisoners, respect for press freedom, and assurance of the independence of the judiciary and electoral bodies were all demanded in a joint statement from Canada, the United States, Britain, and the EU, which also pledged their “willingness to review sanctions” against Venezuela.
The influential Democratic US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Robert Menendez, advised the Biden administration to proceed cautiously.
According to Menendez in a statement, “If Maduro again tries to use these negotiations to buy time to further consolidate his criminal dictatorship, the United States… must snap back the full force of our sanctions that brought his regime to the negotiating table in the first place.”
Despite having vast oil reserves, Venezuela is mired in political unrest and abject poverty, which, according to the UN, has caused an estimated seven million Venezuelans to leave their nation in recent years. As with food and medication, soap and toilet paper are frequently in limited supply.
Maduro’s opponents demand free and fair elections for the presidency in 2024, while Caracas wants the international community to accept Maduro as the country’s legitimate leader and eliminate sanctions, such as the US oil embargo and restrictions on the nation’s foreign assets.
Following the contentious 2018 elections, over 60 nations, including the US, recognized Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition, as acting president.
How the 2024 elections could play out in order to guarantee the opposition’s participation still has to be worked out at the bargaining table.
According to a source close to the discussions, the Unitary Platform opposition party has not come to an agreement on the requirements it has to meet in order to participate in the vote.
Guaido has lost significant friends both at home and in the region, where numerous nations have recently chosen leftist presidents, as his power has faded in recent years.