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U.S. meets Venezuelan officials to express concerns over electoral process

By 37ci3 Apr12,2024

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials met with representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Mexico this week to express concerns about Venezuela’s election process, a White House official said Friday.

The secret meeting comes as the United States approaches an April 18 deadline to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in response to what Washington sees as Maduro’s failure to meet his commitments to free and fair elections later this year.

The Biden administration has vowed to reinstate oil sanctions it suspended in October if Maduro doesn’t make progress on his promises. July 28 presidential elections.

His government has placed major barriers to opposition participation, including barring its leading candidate, Maria Corina Machado, from running against Maduro.

“The purpose was to express our concern about the electoral process in Venezuela,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council (NSC) said of the meeting.

The US delegation was led by Daniel Erickson, the White House’s director general for Western Hemisphere Affairs, at the talks held in Mexico City on Tuesday. The first information about the meeting was published by Bloomberg News.

An NSC spokesman declined to provide details of the discussions, including whether the participants discussed sanctions against OPEC member Venezuela or whether there was any progress or narrowing of differences.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aides to U.S. President Joe Biden are still discussing options before a temporary U.S. license that allows Venezuela to sell its crude oil freely expires Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sources said that there is no final decision yet.

The United States secured partial sanctions relief in October in response to an election deal reached in Barbados between Maduro’s government and the opposition. The agreement included the right of the opposition to choose its own presidential candidate.

The Biden administration’s diplomatic relationship with Maduro and the easing of US sanctions signaled a departure from former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.

Current U.S. discussions are concerned that reimposing sanctions on Venezuela’s energy sector could raise global oil prices and increase the number of Venezuelan migrants heading to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The US reimposed some of its non-energy sanctions in January after Venezuela’s Supreme Court upheld an election ban on Machado because he upheld sanctions and denied corruption charges. Washington also condemned the detention of opposition activists by Venezuelan authorities.

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By 37ci3

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